Moving out of your home and into a new city, or even country, for university is a rite of passage for many.
While the prospect of living by your rules can fill you with excitement, there’s also the trepidation of navigating uncharted waters, such as how to handle the paperwork of getting a new home, especially if it’s your first time handling such matters.
A lack of experience or knowledge in this area will not work to your advantage, putting you at the mercy of your landlord who may not always have your best interest at heart.
If you’ve already found a place you’d like to rent, here are some things to look out for in your tenancy agreement (i.e. contract) before signing the dotted line…
What type of contract is your agreement?
If you’re renting a place with several other people, you’ll need to take note of whether you’re expected to sign an individual contract or a joint tenancy agreement.
The former, as the name suggests, is an individual agreement between solely you and your landlord – meaning you’ll only be responsible for the maintenance of your room and rent.
Meanwhile, a joint tenancy agreement means you and your other housemates are renting the property as a group. Thus, it’s a shared responsibility to ensure rent is paid on time and the unit is well-maintained.
A joint tenancy agreement may be unfavourable, especially if you have a housemate who fails to make timely payments. You and your other housemates may find yourself covering the cost of that housemate who has failed to make a payment if no guarantor is needed.
Cross-check the content in your contract
Once you’ve understood the type of tenancy agreement you’re expected to sign, you’ll want to go through your contract very carefully, scouring what’s expected of you and your landlord in depth.
This includes checking your responsibilities (e.g. fixing minor repairs like light bulbs and notifying the landlord if major repairs are needed) and restrictions (e.g. no pets in the property, or no making changes to the property without written permission) and ensuring you comply with them to avoid legal action being taken against you.
You’ll want to pour over the details of your landlord’s rights (e.g. eviction rights) and responsibilities (e.g. repairs they’re responsible for, pest control, etc.) too.
Other things to look out for in your tenancy agreement include:
- The start and end date of your agreement
- Ensure every tenant, as well as the landlord, is named in the agreement
- Check how much is required for the deposit and what can your landlord can deduct from it at the end of your agreement
- Understand the rent amount, it’s due date and how payment must be made
- Know which bills you (and your housemates, if applicable) are required to pay
- Check it includes the agreed repairs that must be done by your landlord before tenants move into the property
- Understand the notice of period for terminating the tenancy agreement
You may need a guarantor when renting a property as a student. This aims to protect the landlord in the event you are unable to fulfil the agreement terms (e.g. rent arrears, damage to the property, etc.).
For students, parents typically act as guarantors, but you can also get a friend or family member over the age of 18 to be your guarantor.
It’s important to note that different landlords and agents may have different requirements when it comes to picking a guarantor. For example, some require guarantors to be based in the country where you’re renting the property, so be sure to check your tenancy agreement.
Once you’ve gone over your tenancy agreement and are satisfied, sign it and do your happy jig. Via Giphy
Don’t sign the agreement if you’re uncertain about the content of your contract, or if the tenancy agreement is missing some crucial information. Instead, speak with your landlord or agent to ensure everything is in place first. Good luck!