As we launch our Don't Sign in Term One campaign, we give you advice on what you can do if you're feeling pressured into renewing your housing contract for next year.
Every year, as early as October, some landlords and agents start to ask their current tenants (who’ve just moved in) to decide whether or not they want to renew their contract for the following year. As students are not experienced renters, they often don’t challenge this request; however, students are getting savvier and the Advice Centre is hearing more and more from students who are being pressured into making a decision.
Students are told that if they don’t reply soon (often just given a few days to decide) that the agent/landlord will start marketing the property to be rented out to a different group next year. This then creates a sense of urgency as students are scared that they could lose the home they’ve just moved into, with no guarantee they can find one of the same price, size, etc. This is a huge financial decision and should never be rushed. High-pressure sales are illegal; if you feel that you are being unfairly pressured, you should report it to the Advice Centre who can inform Trading Standards and support you.
We advise you not to make a decision about renewing so early and to refuse any viewings to take place in Term One.
We would still recommend that you don’t make a decision just yet, because:
Our campaign follows legal advice, designed to give students the motivation to fight back against the unethical pressure-sales practices of some landlords and agents. First-year students are generally inexperienced and vulnerable to pressure sales; our Advice Centre sees that they routinely get taken advantage of, so action is needed. Together, we can empower students to challenge bad and outlawed practices and force some change in how agents and landlords approach students in future.
Now, more than ever, the Advice Centre is seeing cases of students stuck in contracts they cannot pay for because they signed up far too early. Estate agents and landlords are telling students that there will be no housing left if they wait for Term Two, when in fact there is a big surplus of student rentals locally. With the risks Covid brings, now, more than ever, we recommend that students wait until Term Two or Three before considering housing for next year.
So, our simple message to you is…Keep Calm: Don’t Sign in Term One.
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