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Useful tips for students planning to rent

Student property is one of the most lucrative investments available to landlords, with sky-high double-digit yields currently on offer in many parts of the country.

With students heading back to university over the next few weeks, demand for student housing is currently high, which explains why some investors are looking to add student housing to their property portfolio. 

The study also found that most renters want to establish a good relationship with their landlord – which is also considered to have a positive impact on their commitment to longer term tenancies.

Being a landlord is not easy and there are many issues faced, but a strong relationship with tenants can help make the process a lot smoother.

For many renters, it is the first time they will be living away from home and some will have no experience of organising temporary accommodation and understanding their rental obligations and rights.

Around two out of five students rent a house, flat or room from a private landlord or agency, but new research shows that worryingly, a third of them confess to not checking their housing contract and just over a quarter - 27% - said they did not understand the document.   

For those of you who have invested in the student property market,  it may be worth sharing the following useful tips from TDS with your new prospective tenants. 

1. Study the tenancy agreement

You’ve done the hard work and found a place to stay and some people that you can bear to live with. Your landlord or letting agent will give you a tenancy agreement which is a legally binding contract between you and the owner of the property.

The importance of being aware of what you are signing up to is vital.

Read the tenancy agreement carefully and make sure you’re happy with what is expected of you as the tenant, as well as what your rights are. It’s there to protect you as much as the landlord and in the event of any dispute, will be central to negotiations.

If there’s anything you’re unsure of you can ask someone who has rented before and advice is also freely available from Citizens Advice, as well as tenant organisations. For further guidance, a variety of useful guides and blogs for tenants are available on the TDS website.

2.  Your deposit – who’s got it?

Landlords normally ask for a tenancy deposit. That deposit must be protected with a Government-approved scheme such as TDS. There are two types of scheme available; the TDS Insured scheme sees the agent or landlord hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy and insures the funds with TDS to ensure you’re protected, and the TDS Custodial scheme which sees the agent or landlord pass the deposit monies to TDS to hold. 

Landlords must, within 30 days of receiving the deposit, protect the deposit and serve the Prescribed Information and the scheme leaflet on the tenant.

A landlord who does not protect a tenant's deposit may face a fixed penalty of between one and up to three times the amount of the deposit.

3.  Check the check-in report

The very first thing you should do is check the contents, cleanliness and condition of the property against the inventory or check-in report. These documents detail the condition and cleanliness of the property and its contents at the start of a tenancy.

These documents will be referenced at the end of a tenancy to show whether or not the property has been returned in the same condition, allowing for fair wear and tear.

Do a careful sweep of the property and make sure that the accounts of the property’s contents, cleanliness and condition match what you see – if it says the living room carpet is brand new, but you can see staining, you should inform your landlord or letting agent in writing. (Keep a copy of this - and any communication with the landlord or letting agent - for your own records). We would advise that you also photograph and submit to the landlord/letting agent with your comments.

Using this example, if the landlord requests money to cover carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy, there will be evidence to prove that the carpet was stained before you moved in.

However, if you’re happy that the report is an accurate account of the property’s condition it should be signed and dated by both you and your letting agent or landlord.

While the excitement of a new term is understandable, doing a bit of due diligence on your rights and responsibilities can lead to fewer tenancy headaches and ultimately save you money further down the line.

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