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Housing: A Guide for International Students

Housing for International Students

The Legal Stuff

Right to Rent

The law now makes landlords check all tenants’ right to rent in the UK.  This involves taking copies of your passports and visa documents to be sent for checks, which can take a few weeks.  These checks can usually be done on the same day for British/EU residents as it usually just involves seeing their passport.  Keep in mind this difference in processing time, if you are in a group with British or European students.

British Bank Account

You will need to have opened a British bank account in order to set up a standing order for your rent to be automatically paid out of your account each month.

Deposit Protection Schemes (DPS)

The landlord, or an agency, must protect security deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme unless they’re a resident landlord. This helps ensure that you get back what you're entitled to at the end of the tenancy. More information here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-privately/during-your-tenancy/check-your-landlord-has-protected-your-deposit/

Guarantors

Guarantors must be UK residents and able to complete a reference check.  They are expected pay money you owe if you cannot.  As most international students cannot obtain guarantors, agencies often ask them to pay 3-6 months’ rent in advance.  If you are being asked to pay big sums of money in advance, book an appointment with the housing advisor to get guidance or check out.

BE SAFE

  • Remember, you are not supposed to pay any money until you are ready to sign. 
  • Make any payments by transfer and not in cash. 
  • Do not sign before viewing.
  • Do not attend viewings alone.
  • Get your contract check at the advice centre.

Fees

Admin fees: Estate agents’ charge for their services, approx. £150-250 per person, paid on signing.

Holding fee/deposit: a portion of the first month’s rent to stop advertising the property- refundable if you don’t change your mind. Paid on the day you wish to reserve property.

Security deposit: Paid before the beginning of the tenancy and refundable at the end if there’s no damage or money owed to the landlord.

JARGON BUSTER

Central heating- one point for controlling heating in all the rooms (electric heating about twice as expensive as gas)

Double glazing – windows with two glass panels to help insulation and keeping sound out

Standing order – a payment you can set up with your bank to make fixed, regular payments into someone else’s account.  You will need a British bank account.

Council tax – a local tax charged by the council- students are exempt until the last day of their student status.  A bill in your name will be generated the day after. BOOK AN APPOINTMENT if you need help with a council tax bill.

 

The day-to-day stuff

Bins and Recycling

Your bins will be collected on a certain day, and the recycling needs sorting.  Your rubbish won’t be collected if you sort it incorrectly.  See here to find out when your bin collection day is: https://www.runnymede.gov.uk/article/12341/Check-your-bin-day You can also ask your neighbours- it’s a great opportunity to introduce yourselves.

Being good neighbours

You are required to let your neighbours have peace and quiet during weekday evenings, so don’t forget that not everybody is a student!  If you don’t respect your neighbours, they can call the police and report you to the university and council, which can lead to eviction…so think of the consequences of your actions!

Utilities (Gas, Electricity, Water and Internet)

We recommend that you put all housemates’ names on all utilities accounts.  You can use https://glide.co.uk/ to make all this simpler.  You can also book an appointment if you would like some guidance about how to set up and manage your utilities.

Heating and Ventilation

Lack of ventilation, condensation and leaks can cause damp and mould, which is harmful to your health.  Wipe away condensation and open the widows to regularly let outside air in.

If you are gone for a few days or more, the cold weather can freeze the water in the pipes, so you need to leave the heating on on a low setting in autumn and winter.

Gardening

Find out who is responsible for the gardening according to your tenancy agreement.  If it’s you, then the landlord needs to provide you with gardening tools.  If the landlord is paying for professional gardeners, you need to find out when to let them into the garden.

Gutters, Drains, Sewers

You need to keep any reachable areas unblocked of leaves and rubbish to avoid flooding.  You could be liable for flood damages if you are found to be neglectful.

Insurance

Your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your belongings.  Look at comparison sights for deals on contents insurance in case of loss, theft or accidents.  Make sure you read the terms of such deals carefully, and book an appointment with an advisor if you would like an explanation of how such insurance policies work.

Safety

Remember to always lock the doors when you are out, otherwise both you and your landlord’s insurance could refuse to pay for your losses.  Always report any theft or vandalism immediately to the police and landlord within 48 hours for insurance purposes.

If you are away from the property for more than a couple of days, let your landlord know so that he can check in on the house while you are away.