Caring For Your Rented Home

By now, you'll most likely be settled into your new room and getting it nicely decorated with some pretty instagrammable plants, or a cool Pulp Fiction or Pink Floyd poster. While we know this part of uni is incredibly fun, it's important that you're aware of your responsibilities when it comes to looking after your home.

By now, you'll most likely be settled into your new room and getting it nicely decorated with some pretty instagrammable plants, or a cool Pulp Fiction or Pink Floyd poster.

While we know this part of uni is incredibly fun, it's important that you're aware of your responsibilities when it comes to looking after your home. So our advisors have put together some useful guidance to help you settle in! 

If you haven’t already seen our Private Housing Moving In Guide or our 'Living' advice page then we recommend you do this as soon as possible, even if you’ve already moved in. There may be things that you haven’t thought of addressing, like council tax or energy safety. It also has information about starting to care for your home.

Why do I need to look after my home? 

  • You have a legal obligation.
  • You can prevent damage that can impact badly on your living standards and wellbeing.
  • You could have big deductions from your security deposit and/or be taken to court.

Landlords and agents in the area typically try to make deductions that are worth over half of students’ security deposits! And the worst part is that they usually succeed. This is usually because students aren't aware of their rights and obligations and because most students aren’t accessing the Advice Centre.

So far, the Advice Centre is maintaining a near-perfect winning streak in challenging unfair deposit deductions. However, we are also meeting many students too late, after they have already agreed to unfair charges.

This year, we want to make sure we give you as much information as possible to make it difficult for landlords and agents to propose unfair deductions. Below we’ve listed important advice to get you started. Some of these are in your contract and some are our suggestions to avoid charges out of your deposit when you leave. We definitely recommend you consult us before accepting any charges, even if you think that you’re liable, so we can check that it’s a fair charge.

Get in touch with us by email to ask for more guidance, or we hold drop-ins on Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon 13:30-15:30, and in-person every Wednesday afternoon 13:30-15:30. You can find more information on our Events Calendar.

Tenancy Dos

  • Read our Fire Safety article.
  • If the smoke/carbon monoxide alarms are battery-operated, set a reminder to test them weekly and change batteries as needed. Batteries must be working when you leave.
  • Tell the landlord promptly if you need repairs in writing (text/email).
  • Be a good neighbour - see our article and the University's guidance to avoid a misconduct investigation against you. Students who are a nuisance in the community can get evicted and have their university place terminated!
  • Buy a mattress protector to avoid staining your mattress.
  • To avoid damp/mould, ensure good ventilation:
    • Open all windows for at least 15 mins a day.
    • Heat the house at 17-20 degrees celsius. 
    • Keep the place clean (also helps avoid infestations, which you’d have to deal with yourselves).
    • Wipe away condensation.
  • Keep all food in cupboards with no holes - mice can chew through the packaging!
  • Make sure there is no blockage of reachable gutters, sewers, drains etc.
  • Report broken window glass immediately (to the police within 48 hours if it was an outsider - get a crime reference number for the landlord and you won’t have to pay). If you or your guests caused the breakage, you are liable to pay.
  • Replace dead bulbs and fuses yourself - this is the tenant's responsibility.
  • Lock all doors and windows when the property is empty. In case of a break-in or burglary, you have to report it to the police and give the landlord a crime reference number within 48 hours, which they can use to claim with their insurance - if the incident was enabled by your neglect, you’ll be liable!
  • If the house is empty in cold weather (e.g. Chrismas holidays) keep heating on constantly on the frost setting or lowest setting to avoid the water in pipes freezing. Otherwise, this will cause flooding when thawing.
  • Turn off the mains tap if the house is empty over the holidays to avoid flooding.
  • Tell your landlord if you’re leaving the house empty for longer than a couple of weeks for security and insurance purposes.
  • To avoid being charged for damages, you have to report any incident of loss or damage by fire, theft or other to your landlord within 48 hours for insurance purposes.
  • Keep track of your keys! If you lose them, you will usually have to pay for new locks and keys, which could cost hundreds of pounds.

Tenancy Don'ts 

  • Don’t pour food waste down the sink or block the bath and shower pipes with hair - use a plug hole cover/ strainer to catch hair. If it does get blocked, buy a chemical drain unblocker. If this doesn’t work, you’ll be charged for the plumber’s cost.
  • Don’t allow rubbish to build up inside or outside the house - you’ll be charged for its removal if it gets bad and it could attract mice or bugs!
  • Don’t use plug-in heaters without written permission - most contracts prohibit these due to fire risk.
  • Most landlords don’t allow smoking or candles in the property because it invalidates their insurance - this means that if you cause a fire, you will have to pay for damages.
  • No decorating, no blue-tac or sticky tape on walls to avoid damaging paintwork, which is a top reason for deposit deductions.
  • Don’t dry clothes in the house with the windows closed as it causes damp and can build up mould.

FURTHER HELP

The Advice Centre is a free, independent and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Email us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk with any questions or to ask for an appointment.