Are you worried about paying your summer rent?
The letting out of student houses is a lucrative and expanding business, but the summer holidays are a period of instability for both students and landlords. For students, there are anxieties over paying for the summer period as student finance funds are paid at the start of term three in April. Equally for landlords, their property will most likely be empty for at least two months, raising issues over security and upkeep.
Across the country, landlords vary on their approach to the summer period, and this lack of uniformity can be troubling for students. In Leeds, Newcastle and Bristol, for instance, 12 month contracts are the standard procedure for housing. In Liverpool, by contrast, many students pay 11 months from July to the next August, while in Leamington Spa, students are pleased to receive 10 month contracts. Manchester is an anomaly as many students are offered half rent over summer if they leave the property absent, and full rent if continuing to live there.
This discrepancy shows that landlords fall in line with the norm of the city, meaning students in certain cities can pay as much as £800 more a year.
Students at Leeds University explain that it is not the cost of the summer period that bothers them, it is the fact that students have to survive covering rent over five months from April to September on one student loan instalment.
If the students’ parents are not in a comfortable financial situation, they can find themselves unable to pay the rent or, worse, having to take out extra loans to cover the period. Equally, students frequently find that their rents do not overlap, and so they have to transport their belongs back and forth across the country, sometimes even having to pay for storage.
First year students in halls of residence usually have 42 week contracts which are favourable for that year, but this means that students are unable to judge their payments for second year rent. Some landlords alter the rent arrangements to meet the needs of students. For instance, some divide the amount by 9 months (like halls of residences) which can be helpful.
UNITE, as well, offers customers a cost-effective summer solution by providing 43-week tenancies.
From a landlord’s point of view, it is understandable to ask for summer rent, as they often have to pay a mortgage and insurance on the property and cannot afford to leave it empty for three months in the summer. Equally, in many cities they would struggle to rent out a property for only three months.
Summer for landlords is also an unstable period as they are concerned about leaving the property empty for so long and the potential inconvenience of dealing with break-ins in this time.
The July and August period are often spent doing repairs and decorating for the next tenants. Nevertheless, this can cause problems, as landlords simply presume that students will not be living in their house during summer and if they do chose to stay, they may be disrupted by things like landlords cutting off the water supplies or changing boilers.
Whilst there is no easy solution for this issue, the various problems are evident. Students already pay high prices for low quality houses and landlords regularly take advantage of the fact that students are sometimes ignorant to household and rental practices. As a result of the situation, student areas such as Hyde Park in Leeds and Fallowfield in Manchester are ghost towns over the summer period, causing instability for local businesses.
In order to cope with paying for rent over summer, it is useful to work out how many weeks there are between your student loan instalments and try and factor in any sources of income such as student finance, wages and any money from family.
By Nina Harris