Whether you are moving into rented accommodation for the first time, moving away from halls to be in a better area, or have decided it will be more fun to share with your friends – going into a house share is always an exciting, yet daunting prospect.
When you are sourcing your perfect residence, it is always worth bearing in mind that different properties or landlords may offer slightly different terms so it is worth having some questions ready when you are viewing properties.
However, while some rules may differ, your landlord holds certain responsibilities to keep the property, and you, safe. In return, as a student tenant, you have specific obligations within your tenancy agreement too, so let’s explore what they are.
Bills as a Student Tenant
When you are looking for a house share – make sure that you ask about whether bills are included. In many student house shares – the landlord may include utilities such as electric, gas and water within your rent but this is not always the case.
If bills are not included in your rent – do have a think about who you are sharing with. Are they likely to be home more than you (so using up lots of the gas and electric)! Do you trust that they are organised enough to pay the bills? Are you happy to split, or would you prefer to calculate usage?
There are some apps available that help make splitting utility bills much more simple, such as https://www.splitthebills.co.uk or https://glide.co.uk/ both of which have specific plans for student sharers.
Even if utility bills are included – do check exactly what is within the rent. In some instances, broadband may be included. Or other times, although electric is included – items such as washing machines or tumble driers are on a paid operating system, so always ask when viewing a property.
In the first instance – always check your tenancy agreement. There are some areas which your landlord will always be responsible for. Such as maintaining the heating system and making sure that all the gas and electric appliances are safe.
However, it will generally be up to you to make sure that your room is kept in good condition, and most tenancy agreements will state that it should be returned as found.
Things like replacing lightbulbs, cleaning windows and replacing tap washers are, in most cases, your responsibility.
Communal areas will vary. For example – if you have a garden, the landlord may give you tools with which to maintain it – and this should be stated within the agreement. In some instances, the landlord may instead engage the services of a gardener and charge this back through the rent, or by prior agreement – so always double check.
How Much Access Do I Need To Give my Landlord?
Your landlord has a responsibility to keep both you, and the property safe. For example, an annual gas and electric safety inspection must take place each year, and as a tenant, it is your responsibility to allow access to the landlord and his contractors to do so.
Additionally, your landlord has a right to access common areas, for example, your kitchen, shared lounge, or hallways, in order to manage and maintain them. In practice, many landlords will use the services of a managing agent or contractors such as cleaners to do so in order to carry out duties such as fire alarm testing, cleaning, or other duties in order to keep the property safe and well maintained.
Rent in Student Accommodation
It may seem obvious, but it’s your responsibility to pay the full amount of rent, on time!
It is very important to understand that when you enter into a house share under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement – you are jointly and severally liable for the rent. This means that anyone and everyone on the tenancy agreement are liable for ALL of the rent. So if say you share with another flatmate, and they don’t pay – the landlord can still come to you (or your guarantor) for all of the rent.
As you might expect, if you break something, you are responsible for it, so broken furniture, windows, etc are very much your responsibility. However, when you move into a property, a property check-in should take place, which will note any prior damage and the condition of the property, so if something is on its last legs – make sure that this is picked up in the check/inventory to save issues later.