Student houses are both great fun and the bane of your life. Finding a house that has enough bathrooms, working hobs and sizeable rooms is difficult enough, so add a tricky landlord into the mix and the problems can seem never ending.
Unfortunately, student landlords have a pretty infamous reputation for trying to con students out of their money and rights as tenants. So, here is a list of handy tips to help you make it through the year without too many hiccups:
- Print off your contract
If you found your house through a student homes agent then chances are you’ll have signed an electronic contract. This can then get easily lost amongst emails, so make sure you print a copy of the contract after you’ve signed it (and read it thoroughly!). Then, if you have any problems or areas of confusion about your landlord’s responsibilities in the house you can refer back to this as evidence of what you’re entitled to.
- Take pictures of any damage and email them to your landlord
This should be done as soon as you move in. Damage can include, scuffs on the walls, holes in the floor, cracks in windows, broken door handles etc. If you email these pictures on the day you move in then you have evidence that they existed prior to your tenancy. This is so important as your landlord may well try and charge you for these damages after you leave the property- making the return of your full deposit unlikely.
- Speak to previous tenants
Old mail will likely end up at your house, so if you’re having trouble with your landlord there’s no harm in searching the names of those tenants on Facebook and sending a quick message. This might seem a bit CSI, but if you’re really struggling then they could offer valuable advice on how they survived the year.
- Pay your rent on time
This might seem obvious, but if your landlord has already given the impression that they could cause you trouble the last thing you want to do is add fuel to their fire. Paying bills and rent on time, as well as keeping track of your keys to avoid any call out fees, will help prevent unnecessary hassle and (the dreaded) late fees. The same goes for respecting the house. If you actively make an effort to keep everything clean your landlord will notice this and have even less reason to charge you for refurbishments at the end of the year.
- Consult your parents
It might have been long ago but they were students once too! Plus, they’ll have useful tips and guidance on how to negotiate with landlords, as it’s very likely they’ll have done it themselves somewhere along the way.
- Contact your university housing advice service
Every university or Students’ Union will have some form of advice service for students moving into private housing for the first time. They have dealt with hundreds of cases over several years so the likelihood is they’ll know how best to solve your issues.