Signing a housing contract is a big decision and a huge financial commitment. And it’s one you really want to get right. Here, you will find guidance to help you find people to live with and a suitable home. You can also learn about your rights and obligations as a prospective and new tenant, knowledge guaranteed to help your budget.
We advise that you not to rush into a contract as there is a surplus of accommodation locally. If you take your time and choose your housemates carefully, you’ll be more likely to have fewer problems in the long run, and get a better deal.
Every year we hear rumours that students are told that all the best houses will be gone by Christmas. This is not the case. If you start to look in late November/December this will help you to get a good idea of what’s around, but we urge you not to sign in Term 1. It's nearly impossible to get out of contracts once they are signed and we want you to make the best decision for the coming year.
We also host a Housing Fair each year in the SU main hall, where you’ll get the opportunity to chat to a number of different estate agents and landlords as well as the Advice Centre staff. Use this event to give you get a feel for the local market, look at the websites of agencies and landlords there and discuss it with your friends and family over Christmas. Remember that many properties will not be advertised until after February.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
HouseSearch is your free portal to hundreds of local properties, run by the Students’ Union. You can use it to search for accommodation, post ads for rooms, and find housemates.
Online: You can find lots of accommodation advertised online. If you’re not part of a group yet, we’ve created a Facebook group called RHSUHouseMating. to help you find housemates or spare rooms.
Letting Agents: You can find local letting agencies’ websites and their ratings on Google. If you call each agency and tell them what area you’re looking in and your budget, they’ll tell you what they have available.
Whether you're looking for a group to join, on the hunt for a housemate to complete your group, or seeking a replacement housemate, it can be hard to find the right person. We've compiled some key pointers, which should make things a little easier for you.
Here are some platforms connected to the university and SU that you could post on:
As a student you may have access to different sources of income, but it's always best to monitor how you are using it. You can come and see us to help budget for the year ahead, especially when you consider signing for a new house. Often students use their last loan payment to help fund deposits and fees when signing; this is useful, but remember that you may have other costs at this time.
FUNDING YOUR DEPOSIT
Some of the sources you can use are:
To sign a private housing contract you will need:
Most landlords and estate agents will require students to have a UK-based guarantor that can pass their credit checks. A guarantor is someone who signs to say they will pay the rent and bills if you can’t. They can be a family friend or relative, as long as they live in the UK. Students who don’t have a suitable guarantor are usually expected to pay 3-6 months’ rent in advance.
International students should have enough funds to cover a bigger deposit as part of their visa requirements. Home and EU students who do not have a guarantor should see the information below about the university’s Rent Guarantor Scheme
We strongly advise that you do not pay for or sign anything until you secure a guarantor.
It can be hard work getting your landlord to fix things after you’ve signed. Landlords and agents often make promises they never fulfil during viewings, so if they promise to fix things, ask them to put it in writing.
If the current tenants are present during the viewing, don’t be afraid to ask for their contact details so you can ask them about what the bills are like, etc. They will also be much more honest about the landlord without agents around.
Ask the landlord or agent if you can see the inventory which will state exactly what pieces of furniture will be staying at the property. If they do not have one, request that they create one.
YOUR LANDLORD/AGENT SHOULD GIVE YOU:
Make sure you are happy with the tenancy agreement. Don’t be afraid to question the meaning of certain clauses. You should not sign anything you are not 100% clear on!
Finally, make use of our FREE CONTRACT CHECKING SERVICE, which will save you lots of money, even if you’ve already signed!
Renting in the private sector is full of potential pitfalls from the moment you become a prospective tenant. Our contract checking service not only helps you to make sure there’s nothing dodgy in your tenancy agreement, but will also provide you with information about your rights, how to set up your utilities and what to do when things go wrong.
If you email us with a copy of your contract using the subject ‘contract check request’ or come along to one of our drop-ins, we can do all the hard work for you. We can explain the key areas of the contract in plain English so that you can make an informed decision and stay safe.
Remember: NEVER sign a contract in a rush. You are supposed to have sufficient time to look over the terms and consult someone. Pressure sales is illegal.
Finally, we want you to know that you should get your contract checked, even if you’ve already signed it. In contract law, legally unfair clauses are unenforceable, and we can point them out to you.
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