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Questions to ask when viewing student accommodation

Looking for a place to live at uni can be exciting, but before you rush into signing a tenancy agreement there’s a few things you should check.

If you want to make an informed decision when choosing a student house to rent, make sure you go to property viewings prepared with a list of questions to ask.

In this article, we’ve come up with a list of 10 to think about when viewing student accommodation to ensure you don’t end up with any nasty surprises.

10 most important questions to ask when viewing student accommodation

  1. Is the tenancy agreement a sole or joint agreement?

Student tenancy agreements are either joint agreements or sole agreements. A joint tenancy agreement makes all tenants jointly liable for the property and rent payments. That means that if one tenant stops paying, the others are responsible for ensuring their payments are covered. With a sole tenancy agreement, each tenant has their own contract and is liable for their own payments and actions only.

  • How much is the deposit and which deposit scheme is used?

Before moving into a student property, you are usually required to pay a deposit. The deposit provides the landlord with some financial security if you stop paying rent or damage the property. Deposits are usually equal to about one month’s rent and landlords are required by law to pay your deposit into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.

  • Are bills included?

Always check what bills (if any) are included in the price of your rent. If bills are not included then you will need to arrange and pay for all your utilities, television licence, and internet separately.

When you rent from Student Haus, you have peace of mind that the price of all our student accommodation is inclusive of all bills and internet, making it easier for you to budget and saving you the hassle of having to communicate with lots of different service providers.

  • What are the tenants’ responsibilities?

Some landlords ask more of their student tenants than others. Asking this question may reveal any additional responsibilities contained within the tenancy agreement. Some common additional responsibilities include things like requesting that tenants maintain the garden and mow the lawn, asking student tenants to pay for the property to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy agreement, or allowing the landlord to inspect the property regularly.

  • Are tenants required to pay rent over the summer months?

Most student tenancy agreements run for a fixed term of 12 months, which means you will end up paying for your student property throughout the university holidays. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your circumstances and where you plan to spend your holidays. Some landlords may be prepared to be flexible with your contract length, so it’s always worth asking the question.

  • What furniture and appliances are included?

Don’t automatically assume that the items you see in the house when you view it are there to stay. Sometimes when viewing a property, some of the furniture you see may belong to existing or previous student tenants.

  • Is there car parking or bike storage?

Not everyone will require a car parking space or bike storage, but if you do plan to drive or cycle whilst at university then this could be a real deal breaker. Even if you don’t drive, having a car parking space available can be very useful for visitors. Some city centre areas may even require you to pay extra for a parking space, so asking the question during a viewing can save you from incurring an unexpected cost later down the line.

  • What Energy Performance Rating does the property have?

Finding out how the house is heated and what its Energy Performance Rating is, is more important than ever with energy prices and the cost of living being as high as they are, particularly if bills are not included in the price of rent. Ask if you can see the property’s Energy Performance Certificate to check its rating. A rating between A – C is reasonable, anything much lower and the property may have insulation problems and could be a little cold or difficult to heat in the winter.

  • How are phone signal and wi-fi strength?

A good wi-fi connection and phone signal are both essential for most students. Asking the question can reveal any known problems in the area.

  • What security does the house have?

Crime rates can be higher than average in some student areas, so security systems like burglar alarms and security lights can be a real bonus, but unfortunately aren’t that common in student accommodation. Check if the doors are secure, the type of locks they have, and whether individual bedrooms can also be locked.

For further help or advice on finding a student property to rent in North West England, including Liverpool, Manchester, Bolton and Salford, get in touch with our team of student letting agents here at Student Haus by calling us on 0161 694 6427.

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Landlord obligations when letting to students

As a student landlord, you are obliged by law to adhere to rules and regulations that ensure your student accommodation is safe and the service you provide to tenants is fair.

In this article, we look at some of the key rules and regulations surrounding student accommodation and student letting.

What is a student house?

Most students spend their first year at university living in halls of residence, which are often found on the university campus.

Afterwards, many students move on to cheaper off-campus student accommodation.

While there are several different types of private student accommodation to choose from, the most common type is student houses owned by private landlords.

Most landlords letting a house to students are required to apply for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence.

This is required if the student house is going to be shared by three or more tenants from different households.

What responsibilities are imposed by law on a student landlord?

Listed below are what we believe to be some of the most important responsibilities of student landlords.

Ensure the property is fire safe

It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their student accommodation is safe and free from hazards. This includes ensuring the property meets all relevant fire safety regulations. Student houses should be fitted with smoke alarms on every floor and all furniture and furnishings should be fire safe. Larger HMOs should also be equipped with a fire extinguisher.

Arrange regular safety checks for gas appliances and electrical equipment

It is the landlord’s responsibility to arrange for gas appliances and boilers to be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The property’s electrical system should also be checked for safety by a professional once every five years. Landlords should provide their tenants with a copy of the valid Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and Gas Safety certificate when they first move into the property.

Use a government-approved deposit scheme

Most landlords take a deposit at the start of a tenancy to give them some financial protection if the tenant causes damage to the property or misses rent payments. The Housing Act 2004 states that landlords must place tenant deposits into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) within 30 days of receiving it. The landlord is also obliged to provide the tenant with the details of the scheme that their deposit is in.

Register with the ICO

Landlords are required to obtain their tenant’s personal details and keep them on file. This requirement classes them as a ‘data controller’ which means they must ensure that they are following the principles of GDPR (general data protection regulation) and register with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Perform right-to-rent checks

All landlords, regardless of whether they let to students or not, must carry out a right-to-rent check on all new tenancies. This involves asking to see the relevant identity documents that prove the tenant’s right to rent. Student landlords should also ask to see a letter from the tenant’s university confirming their registration with the university and place on a course. Landlords should make a copy of the documentation that they see to keep on file.

Carry out property repairs and maintenance

It is the landlord’s responsibility to carry out any repairs to the property’s structure, pipes, wiring, heating, hot water, and bathroom fixtures. Repairs and maintenance should be carried out as soon as possible, particularly if they pose a threat to the tenant’s health, security, or well-being.

Provide tenants with notice before visiting

Landlords are obliged to always provide student tenants with at least 24 hours’ notice if they plan to visit the property for any reason and should not show up unannounced.

How can Student Haus help with student tenancies?

Student lets can be lucrative, but they are also subject to more complex rules and regulations than regular buy-to-lets.

If you require any help or advice getting set up as a student landlord or running your student let, particularly if you have never been a landlord before, you could benefit from the student landlord services that we offer here at Student Haus.

We offer a let-only or a fully managed service, allowing landlords to choose a level of support that suits their requirements and budget.

We have already helped numerous student landlords throughout North West towns and cities including Liverpool, Salford, and Bolton to get the best returns from their investments.

For further information about any of our services or advice about landlord regulations, give our team a call on 0161 694 6427.

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Do landlords pay council tax for students?

Landlords should make sure they’re aware of the rules surrounding who pays council tax for rented student accommodation before they draw up a tenancy agreement.

Whether or not council tax needs to be paid on a property that is being let to students, and who is responsible for paying the bill if there is one, depends on several factors.

In this article, we will explore the council tax exemption rules and whether the responsibility to pay the bill falls with the tenant or student landlord.

Are students exempt from council tax?

In most cases, full-time students are exempt from paying council tax while part-time students are still required to pay it.

If a student house is only occupied by full-time students, then the property is exempt from council tax.

If there is a mixture of students and non-students living in a property, then the students are still exempt and the bill goes to the non-student/s.

The following people are exempt from paying council tax:

  • Full-time students
  • People aged under 25 who are enrolled on a government training scheme
  • People aged under 20 who are studying a course up to A-levels
  • Student nurses
  • Those employed in an apprenticeship and earning less than £195 per week

To be classified as a full-time student you must be on a course that is at least a year long and requires at least 21 hours of study each week.

If you are a part-time student rather than a full-time one, then it is likely that you will need to pay council tax. However, you may be able to get a discount; check the government website to see if you are eligible for one.

The exemption is only applicable while all tenants qualify. As soon as a student’s studies end, they will be liable for council tax.

Who should pay council tax?

Whether the responsibility to pay the council tax bill falls with the student or landlord depends on whether the property is an HMO (house of multiple occupancies).

Any students who are liable to pay council tax and have a sole tenancy, or a joint tenancy, will need to arrange to pay the bill themselves.

However, it is the landlord who should arrange to pay any amounts owed for council tax if the property in question is an HMO and students each have an individual tenancy agreement.

Usually, if this is the case, the landlord factors the cost of the council tax into the rental price.

Landlord responsibilities for council tax

As well as being responsible for paying the council tax bill for student HMOs, landlords must also pay council tax for the property during any period where the property is empty with no one living in it.

For further help or advice for student landlords, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team of specialist student letting agents at Student Haus by calling us on 0161 694 6427.

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Top tips for student landlords

student lets salford

While student lets are subject to more rules and regulations than regular buy-to-lets, landlords who have done their research often find student lets to be a profitable investment.

If you’re new to renting to students or acting as a landlord, you’ll need to get your head around what your responsibilities are as a student landlord to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

For this article, the team of expert student letting agents at Student Haus have shared their top seven tips for student landlords.

What are the seven top tips for student landlords?

If you’re a new student landlord, the advice below will help to ensure your student let is run professionally and according to relevant regulations, helping you to provide students with a better service, avoid making costly mistakes, and reduce the risk of problems arising later down the line.

·       Comply with appropriate legislation

The most important thing you can do when letting to students is to ensure that your student let complies with all relevant rules and regulations.

Failure to do so could put the health and safety of your tenants at risk and land you with a penalty, fine, or even a prison sentence!

Most student buy-to-let properties will require an HMO (houses in multiple occupancy) license.

You can find out more about the criteria for a student HMO and how to get a license on the government website here.

You must also check that any rooms you plan to use as bedrooms meet the minimum floor area dimensions.

When renting to students, landlords are also required to carry out a Right to Rent check on students before they move in.

·       Furnishing your student property

Most students require fully furnished student accommodation, so it’s important to ensure your student buy-to-let features all the basics required to live comfortably.

This includes beds and mattresses, cooker, fridge/freezer, seating, desks, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, and television.

It is cost-effective to invest in durable and long-lasting furniture that will withstand a fair amount of wear and tear.

Opt for furniture, carpets, rugs, and curtains in darker colours and shades to keep them looking good for longer. Buying second-hand is advisable as long as the items are still in good condition.

·       Invest in a letting agent

Investing in the services of a letting agent that specialises in student accommodation can help you to maximise your return on investment and outsource a lot of the admin and daily running of your student buy-to-let property.

If you want to enjoy the advantages of owning a student let without the stress and hassle of running it, then investing in a letting agent could be the right option for you.

Some of the services that our team of letting agents here at Student Haus provide include:

  • Advertising your student let
  • Showing students around the property
  • Arranging tenancy deposits
  • Administrative tasks
  • Carrying out property maintenance and repairs
  • Organising gas and electricity safety checks
  • Collecting rent and chasing rent arrears

Using a specialist letting agent also offers you peace of mind that you are complying with all student accommodation regulations for landlords, which is particularly helpful if you are a new student landlord.

·       Tenancy agreement

All landlords are required to draw up a tenancy agreement for their tenants to sign.

It is a legal agreement between landlord and tenants detailing important information about the tenancy and the responsibilities and obligations of each party. Most student accommodation tenancy agreements are either joint or sole fixed-term, shorthold tenancies.

Your tenancy agreement should include the following important information:

  • Personal details of landlord and tenant
  • Start and end date of the agreement
  • Details of the deposit and the scheme it will be kept in
  • The terms of the tenancy
  • How much rent is and how it should be paid
  • What will happen if rent is paid late
  • How bills are to be paid (are they included or not)
  • Details of guarantor if required

·       Health and safety checks

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure that your student rental accommodation is safe and free from hazards. Failure to do so endangers the safety of your tenants and puts you at risk of penalties, fines, or even prosecution.

Before tenants move in, and regularly thereafter, you are responsible for arranging safety checks for:

Gas safety – this must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Electrical safety – this includes electrical appliances as well as sockets and light fixtures.

Fire safety – you mustensure that all fire safety regulations are being adhered to.

The government website provides more information about landlord safety responsibilities.

·       Student landlord insurance

Student accommodation can be subject to more wear and tear than your average buy-to-let and sometimes unexpected damages do occur.

Taking out landlord insurance can help you to cover the costs of any unexpected repairs or damage to the property that cannot be covered by your tenant’s deposits.

Many student landlord insurance providers also offer cover for malicious damage to the property, loss of rent due to an unoccupied property, and loss of rent due to a tenant defaulting on their payments. Landlord insurance can provide you with some peace of mind and financial protection if you do end up running into problems with your tenants.

·       Periodic inspections

Carrying out periodic inspections to both the interior and exterior of your student property can help you to identify any problems or damage early on and reduce the risk of receiving a nasty surprise and hefty repair bill at the end of the tenancy.

Just be sure to provide your tenants with plenty of notice of the inspection, 24 hours’ notice is required at minimum.

Student Haus is here to help

For more student landlord tips and advice on renting to students in Salford, Liverpool, Bolton etc, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team of specialist student letting agents at Student Haus by calling us on 0161 694 6427.

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How to become a student landlord

salford letting agents

How to become a student landlord

Student buy-to-lets are notoriously profitable investments, often generating high rental yields.

Letting property to students can help landlords to maximise their returns by charging per room rather than per property. In addition, student property prices are often lower than average, while demand is usually consistently high.

If you’ve decided to invest in a student buy-to-let, then there’s plenty to consider before you can begin profiting from your investment.

In this article, we learn more about student lets, how to become a landlord, and student house rental.

Buying a property to rent out to students

To be successful as a student landlord, you’ll need an appropriate property in the right location.

Students usually look for accommodation that is close to campus, amenities, and nightlife. Most university cities have certain postcode areas that are hotspots for students.

Many students live in shared accommodation in groups of four or five people. If you buy a three or four-bedroom property, you may be able to convert one of the downstairs living spaces into an additional bedroom.

Once you have found a suitable property, you need to obtain a buy-to-let mortgage.

Most lenders are happy to finance student buy-to-lets providing you meet their criteria. To get the best deal, you’ll need to shop around.

Understand the student accommodation regulations for landlords

Before you advertise your property to students, you need to ensure it is safe and meets relevant student accommodation regulations for landlords.

Failure to meet your obligations and responsibilities as a student landlord is a criminal offence and could result in a fine or prosecution, so it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the regulations at the outset.

If your student buy-to-let is going to be shared by three or more tenants from different households then you will need to obtain an HMO (houses in multiple occupancy) license.

According to HMO regulations, rooms can only be used as a bedroom for sleeping if they meet the minimum floor area dimensions.

It is also a landlord’s responsibility to ensure their student buy-to-let is ‘safe and free from health hazards.’

This includes ensuring your student accommodation complies with relevant regulations for gas, electrical, and fire safety.

Prepare the student property

Once you’ve found a property and secured a mortgage, it’s time to get the house ready for tenants.

First, you should check the condition of the house and have any necessary repairs or improvements carried out to ensure it is safe and comfortable to live in.

This could include fixing any damp problems, upgrading windows and doors, and having all gas and electric appliances serviced.

Once you’ve got the basics covered, you’ll need to think about the property’s aesthetics, carrying out any decorating required and furnishing the house. Bear in mind that student houses are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. For that reason, many landlords prefer to use darker colours throughout student properties to keep them looking better for longer.

Most students look for housing that is fully furnished, so you’ll need to provide all the essentials as standard including a fridge, freezer, sofa, beds, wardrobes, washing machine, cooker, desks, curtains, and vacuum cleaner. Many student landlords also provide a television, cookware, cutlery, plates, and bowls.

Including free or cheap Wi-Fi in the price of the rent can also make your property more appealing to prospective tenants!

Let the property through a student letting agent

Rental for students can be more complicated than regular letting because student lets are subject to more rules and regulations.

Many student landlords choose to let their property through a student letting agent like the team at Student Haus.

Using a letting agent makes letting to students simple and hassle-free, helping landlords to maximise their ROI.

Student letting agents can provide a range of useful services to student landlords including:

  • Marketing and advertising the property
  • Carrying out property viewings
  • Organising deposits
  • Administration of contracts and agreements
  • Dealing with property maintenance and repairs
  • Organising safety checks
  • Rent collection and arrears administration

Here at Student Haus, we specialise in student lets throughout the North West, offering student lettings in Bolton, student lettings in Liverpool, and student lettings in Salford.

We provide student landlords with the option of a let-only service or a fully managed service, allowing them to choose a service that best suits their budget and requirements.

For more information about our landlord services in Salford, Liverpool & Bolton, get in touch by calling our team on 0161 694 6427.

Draw up a student tenancy agreement

Next, you’ll need to draw up a student tenancy agreement.

The tenancy agreement is a legal agreement between you and the students you let the property to. Important information that should be included in a student tenancy agreement includes:

  • Landlord and tenant personal details
  • Agreement start and end dates
  • Tenancy deposit details
  • The terms of the tenancy
  • Details of rent payments and interest for late payments
  • Bill payments and responsibilities
  • Details of guarantor if applicable

Most student tenancy agreements are fixed-term, assured, shorthold tenancies.

You will need to decide whether the agreement is to be a joint or sole tenancy agreement.

A joint agreement gives all tenants joint liability, and all the tenants’ contracts start and end at the same time.

A sole agreement means each tenant is responsible for their own payments and actions and each person’s contract can be started and terminated separately.

Inventory check and handing over the keys

Before your tenants move in, you should carry out an inventory check where you list the contents of the property and take photographs of the condition that items are in.

This can then be used as evidence if any disputes over damages occur later down the line.

On the day that the tenants move in, you can then meet them at the property to hand over the keys and go through the inventory together.

For more information about student lets and how to become a student landlord in Greater Manchester, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team of specialist student letting agents at Student Haus by calling us on 0161 694 6427.