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  • Moving out of halls

    For many university students, moving out of halls is an exciting time. After all, there is nothing quite like getting the keys to your first house and making it your own. But taking the leap from university accommodation into private renting is a big thing and comes with its own stresses.

     

    When to look

    Give yourself time to decide who you are going to share with. You will feel pressure to get this arranged as early as October but please wait until January/February when Marjon Student Union will have advice and guidance for you.

     

    Don’t rush into things

    Choosing who to live with isn’t as easy as it may first seem. Before you make the decision you need to think hard. Private accommodation isn’t flexible like student halls, and if problems arise your landlord cannot settle personal disputes. You cannot up and leave if your living situation no longer suits you or if you have a falling out with someone. Furthermore, whilst a student house gives you the privacy of your own home and an independence that halls do not allow, privacy amongst those living there is almost non-existent. Try to move in with people who are similar to you, with similar routines and similar tolerance levels.

     

    Choose your place wisely

    Choosing where to live is important because the location of your new home will have an effect on your whole routine. Depending on who you’re moving in with, what your requirements are, and how flexible you are, there might not be much choice available. Most student houses are simple, often with some small rooms and basic furnishings – so compromise is important and you need to keep an open mind when viewing. That being said, shop around and don’t be tempted to sign a contract for the first house you see.

     

    Top Tips

    • Think hard about who you are going to live with

    • View a perspective property as a group and never go alone.

    • Be united as a group when making final decisions.

    • Insist on seeing all areas of the property.

    • Do not allow yourself to be rushed into anything.

    • Do not accept a house if you have ANY DOUBTS.

     

    A-Z of finding a property

     

    Bathroom/Shower/Toilet Facilities

    For up to 4 occupiers there should be a bathroom with a fixed bath/shower and a toilet. For 5 occupiers there should be a bathroom with a fixed bath/shower with a separate toilet and wash hand basin.5 occupiers of more should have a bathroom with a fixed bath/shower with a separate toilet and wash hand basin and a wash hand basin in each housing unit.

    No bath, shower room or toilet should be more than one floor away from any user. Neither a bath nor shower can be provided in a kitchen area, neither can a kitchen door open directly into a bathroom/toilet area.

    External toilets are not acceptable and cannot be included in the above ratio.

     

    Common Room

    If at all possible rent a house with a lounge or communal area

     

    Curtains & Carpets

    All rooms should be suitably supplied.

     

    Fire

    A fire extinguisher and fire blanket must be provided as appropriate to the type and size of property.

     

    Food Storage

    Each occupant should be provided food storage space, preferably wall mounted. The space below the sink is not accepted as food storage space.

     

    Furniture

    Upholstered furniture must comply with the Regulations covering flammability and should have a label stating this.

     

    Heating

    All habitable rooms shall be adequately heated by a fixed space heating appliance of either gas or electricity.

     

    Kitchen & Cooking facilities

    Approved standard size gas or electric appliances must be provided.

    Refrigerator/freezer, pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, kettle, iron and waste bin are standard items. Check this is so prior to accepting a property.

     

    Smoke Detectors

    It is essential that smoke detectors/alarms are fitted in your accommodation and should be linked to each other via the mains electricity.

     

    Study Bedroom

    Your room should be suitably heated and adequately furnished to provide a study/bedroom, including a worktable/desk and desk chair, wardrobe, drawer space/chest of drawers, bed, bedside table, shelving for books, waste bin and mirror. The room must be carpeted and curtained and have an acceptable form of heating.

     

    What you need to know – tenancy

     

    Living in shared accommodation

    A student house share may be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), Plymouth City Council require the following properties to be licensed:

    Three or more storeys, which are occupied by five or more people, who live in two or more separate households.

     A license will normally last for 5 years and will ensure that the HMO is suitable for:

    • Occupation by the number of people proposed to live in it

    • The proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person

    • The proposed licence holder is the appropriate person to hold the licence

    • The proposed manager, if there is one, if a fit and proper person

    • The management arrangements are satisfactory, competent and the financial and management structures are suitable

    • The landlords electrical application and furniture are safe

    • That there is a current gas safety certificate if applicable

    • There are operational smoke alarms on each floor of the building

    • All tenants have a written “statement of terms of tenancy”

     

    Statement of terms of tenancy (agreement/contract)

    Your Agreement is an essential and very important document. Do not sign your Agreement until you have read it individually and collectively as a group and you all understand every part of the Agreement. If in doubt seek assistance.

    Before you sign anything ask if there is a charge and, if so, what the charge will be to you and what it is for.

    Check:

    • On your obligations

    • On the obligations of your landlord/agent

    • The duration stated on your Agreement is to your satisfaction

    • Details of rent payment. Most tenancies are fixed so you are unable to terminate the agreement.  If you choose to vacate the premises you will still be liable for the rent

    • What the rent does and does not include e.g., gas, electricity, other services

    • On what you are asked to pay in advance, is it for rent, deposit, or bits of both

    • There are no hidden extras

     

    Get any Agreement in writing.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions. Voice your concerns regarding your tenancy to your landlord/agent before accepting a property. Ask all your questions before you sign an Agreement.

    NEVER sign an Agreement to take on accommodation you have not viewed or that is in the process of "being purchased" or is in the process of "being done up".

     

    Deposit

    You will be asked to pay a deposit when you sign your Agreement. The amount can vary considerably from one week to two months’ rent in advance. Always obtain a receipt for your deposit and make sure you know precisely what the deposit covers.

    Your landlord/agent has to protect your deposit by placing it in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, within fourteen days of taking it from you. You should then be given the following details:

    • The contact of the tenancy deposit scheme

    • The contact details of the landlord/agent

    • How to apply for the release of the deposit

    • Information explaining the purpose of the deposit

    • What to do is there is a dispute about the deposit

    You have a responsibility to return the property in the same condition that is was let to you, allowing for fair wear and tear.

     

    Right to rent checks

    Your landlord will have to check that you are eligible to rent a property in the UK. 

    You will need to show them one of the following documents and allow the landlord to take copies, prior to the tenancy starting:

    • UK passport

    • EEA/Swiss national passport/identity card

    • Registration Certificate or document certifying permanent residence of EEA/Swiss national

    • EEA/Swiss family member Permanent Residence card

    • Biometric Residence Permit with unlimited leave

    • Passport or travel document with unlimited leave

    • UK immigration status document endorsed with unlimited leave

    • A certificate of naturalisation or registration as a British Citizen

    • A valid passport endorsed with a time-limited period

    • Biometric immigration document with permission to stay for time-limited period

    • Non-EEA national residence card

    • UK immigration status document with a time-limited endorsement from the Home Office 

    OR two of the following documents in combination:

    • UK birth or adoption certificate

    • Full or provisional UK driving licence

    • A letter from HM Prison Service

    • A letter from a UK Government Department or Local Authority

    • A letter from National Offender Management Service

    • Evidence of current or previous service in UK armed forces

    • A letter from a police force confirming that certain document have been reported stolen

    • A letter from a private rented sector access scheme

    • A letter of attestation from an employer

    • A letter from a UK further or higher education institution

    • A letter of attestation from a UK passport holder working in an acceptable profession

    • Benefits paperwork

     

    A-Z of when you move in …

    In the excitement of moving into your new home it’s easy to forget the basics.  Remember there’s no cleaner to keep the floors mopped and you have to remember to put your bins out on collection day. Following are a few more important things not to forget…

     

    Arrival at your accommodation

    Know your address and the telephone contact of your landlord/agent. Find out exactly when and where you get the keys. Your landlord/agent should be at the property to check the Inventory with you, read the meters, and deal with any property advice/instructions on your arrival.

     

    Bills

    Unless you have a deal where bills are included with your rent, these are up to you to pay. Sometimes this is done via a meter system, where you top up at local newsagents or supermarket and pay by usage. If you are not on a meter, you will pay your gas and electric by bills – monthly or quarterly. In this case, you will have to divide the bills up amongst yourselves and pay it in an appropriate time. It is up to you to do this, not your landlords or your parents! Don’t forget that you may also have a water bill. Ensure that you get all the relevant information off your landlord before moving in.

     

    Burglary

    The Police ask that you mark your belongings with an ultra violet marker with your postcode and student number. Take home with you all items of value and items valuable to you during a period of absence; particularly holiday times.  Place all other items remaining in your accommodation out of sight, where possible, in cupboards, etc.

    Houses with alarms are far less likely to be the target for burglars.

    Make sure you have adequate contents insurance.

     

    Catering

    Students can purchase meals on campus and also buy into the Dining-In-Scheme. Contact the Catering Department 01752 636862 for further information.

     

    Council tax

    A house that is solely for the occupation of students attending a full time course in Higher Education is normally exempt from Council Tax charges. 

     

    Damage

    It is always advisable to inform your landlord/agent immediately of any damage to the property, fixture, fittings, during the period of your tenancy. Any concerns should be dealt with to avoid any misunderstanding at the termination of a tenancy. Inventories should also be amended accordingly.

     

    Decoration

    Do not attempt any redecoration or structural alterations to the property. Always consult your landlord/agent in the first instance.

     

    Electricity

    Unless otherwise stated you will be responsible for all electricity consumed plus quarterly charges during the period of your tenancy. Always take a meter reading on arrival, keep a safe record and inform the supplier of the reading, date and tenants names immediately you take up a tenancy. Make sure your landlord/agent has a current safety certificate for all the electrical appliances.

     

    Fire

    Make sure you are aware of emergency escape routes, discuss this with your landlord/agent and know how to call the Fire Brigade.

    Some precautions:

    • Never leave a chip pan unattended with the heat on

    • Never leave clothes on top of any gas fire or electrical appliance

    • Never leave an electric iron on unattended

    • Never empty an ashtray into a waste bin last thing at night

    • Never cook late at night

     

    Gas

    It is required by Law for a landlord/agent to have gas appliances checked for safety at least once a year by a Corgi registered gas installer. You must ask your landlord/agent for proof of inspection and safety.

    Unless otherwise stated you will be responsible for all gas consumed plus the quarterly charge during the period of your tenancy. Always take a meter reading on arrival, keep a safe record and inform the supplier of the reading, date and tenants names immediately you take up a tenancy.

     

    Holidays

    It is standard practice that full weekly rental is payable during both the Christmas and Easter vacation periods. You are, of course, entitled to use your accommodation while you are paying full rent.

     

    Insurance (Contents)

    Each student is strongly advised to take out their own adequate contents insurance cover.

     

    Insurance (Buildings)

    Property insurance is not the responsibility of a student. This should be undertaken by your landlord/agent - make sure it is.

     

    Internet

    Unless your landlord includes this in the price of your rent, you will have to seek out an internet service provider. Ring around the big providers and see who can offer you the best deal. Remember that this will also be a contract. Don’t sign anything without reading it.

     

    Inventory

    This should be provided to each tenant detailing the contents of each individual room and all communal areas. Check this document with care at the commencement of a tenancy and write any queries, amendments, discrepancies, breakages, damage, you come across and point all these out, in writing, to your landlord/agent immediately. Time spent doing this at the commencement of a tenancy will avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of a tenancy when you check the items again, and need to negotiate your deposit refund.

     

    Keys

    Each tenant should receive a set of keys. While you are in possession of keys to the property you are liable for rent.

     

    Maintenance

    Find out what to do if you require maintenance (blocked toilet, broken tap, lights out). Most landlords/agents have cover in place. At all times contact your landlord/agent for advice before taking any action.

     

    Neighbours

    Your neighbours may be families with young children, professional couples working long days, or even OAP’s who have lived there since before you were born. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your new home, but be respectful of those who live around you. You don’t want to be responsible for complaints on the street. Clean up after yourselves and keep music and noise to a respectable volume during the evening.

     

    Posters

    Normal procedure is to have permission from your landlord/agent to place posters on internal walls of the accommodation. Placing posters without permission could affect your deposit.

     

    Quiet enjoyment

    In order to safeguard your privacy it is normal to ask your landlord/agent to give 24 hours’ notice of entry and the personal permission of a tenant to enter his/her own room, except in cases of emergency.

     

    Security

    At all times make security a priority and habit in your home. Keep doors into the property locked at all times. You will be held responsible for your accommodation and the behaviour of other people entering that accommodation.

     

    Telephone

    In most cases the telephone is entirely the responsibility of tenants.

     

    Television

    If you are watching live TV on any device (that means live streaming on your computer too), or recorded TV, you have to hold a TV license. You can pay all at once, or spread it over quarterly installments. If you move out of your accommodation in the summer, you can apply for a refund for the time you didn’t use it, which is an added bonus. Do not risk watching without one – if caught you could end up with a hefty fine of £1000. www.tvlicensing.co.uk.

     

    Ventilation

    All habitable rooms shall be ventilated directly to the external air by a window. Kitchen, bathroom, water closet, that have no external window should be provided with mechanical ventilation.

     

    Water charges

    Some tenants are liable for the water rate for the duration of a tenancy. This charge can be costly. You must find out whether you are liable and how much the quarterly charge is before signing your Agreement. Ask to see the cost of charges incurred previously. You are strongly encouraged to arrange for this payment to be made by your landlord/agent.

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