Student Tenancy Rights
As a student, it can be hard knowing where you stand in terms of your tenancy rights. Especially if you have just moved out.
Make sure that when you first get your contract, you read over it thoroughly, so you’re aware of exactly what’s involved and both your legal obligations as well as your landlords.
Understanding Your Tenancy Agreement
Most students who rent privately are assured shorthold tenants. This is the most common form of tenancy, and you will be asked to sign an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement. An AST agreement exists to protect both you the tenant, and the landlord, and sets out the terms for you to live in the landlord’s property. It is normally a written agreement that outlines your responsibility for the condition of the property and the responsibilities of the landlord whilst you are their tenant.
All parties should receive a copy of the the AST agreement to sign. Make sure you thoroughly read through the terms of contract before agreeing to them. Remember to keep your copy of the agreement safe in case you need to refer back to it during your tenancy.
Make Sure Your Deposit Is Protected
For most people, you’ll probably have to pay a deposit to your landlord or letting agent before you’re able to rent a place. This is simply a precautionary measure providing security for landlords against damages or unpaid rent. All being well, you will get this back at the end of your tenancy, so it’s nothing to worry about.
Your deposit should be placed into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, making sure you get your deposit back if you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement, don’t damage the property, and pay your rent and bills. A TDS or Tenancy Deposit Scheme is a Government Approved scheme to help protect your deposit during the time of your tenancy. The TDS ensures that you are treated fairly at the end of your tenancy, and that your landlord or letting agent meets their legal obligations. Click Here to Read More About Getting Your Deposit Back.
Can A Landlord Legally Enter Your Property?
All tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment. This means they have the right to live in their rental property without interference from the landlord, letting agent, or anybody else. So legally, although the landlord owns the property, they must get the tenant’s consent before visiting. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours notice before they turn up.
The only time that they can enter the property without giving you notice is if there is a genuine emergency. This would include a fire, gas leak, flood, something that causes major structural damage to the property, or if a crime has taken place at the premises.
How Much Notice Does A Landlord Need?
If you want to leave your property, and your fixed term tenancy has ended, your notice period is usually specified in your tenancy agreement. As a general rule, you have to give 1 month notice if your rent is due monthly, or 4 weeks notice if your rent is due weekly.
Can Your Landlord End Your Tenancy Early?
If you have signed a fixed term contract, then your landlord can’t ask you to leave earlier, unless you have breached the tenancy agreement. They can only ask you to leave if you have a break clause within your contract. This means that you or your landlord can get out of the contract. If you don’t have a break clause, you can only end your contract if your landlord agrees.
Can My Landlord Evict Me?
So what are the grounds that your landlord can evict you over? Don’t worry, they can’t kick you out without any rhyme or reason. Always seek legal advice immediately if your landlord threatens to evict you. Most landlords need to apply for an eviction order from the court. So if you receive an eviction notice with no court order, this is illegal.
The most common grounds for eviction are: rent arrears for over two months, or you are causing a nuisance or antisocial behaviour. A landlord will also have strong grounds to evict you if breach any other terms of your tenancy agreement, like subletting without permission, or you’re using the property for illegal activities.
Conditions & Repairs Of Your Home
Quite simply, the home you rent should be safe to live in and in good repair. As a basic, your landlord must repair things reasonably quickly when you report them, arrange yearly gas safety checks by a registered engineer, and install working smoke alarms on each floor of your home.
Beyond that, you will be responsible for looking after your home, reporting any needed repairs and allowing access to your home for inspections. You’re also expected to do small jobs like changing light bulbs or testing smoke alarms.
When You First Move In
When you first move in, your landlord should make sure that everything is fixed and working for you, especially if you are taking over from previous tenants. This is standard practice. We know you have probably heard some of the horror stories of people moving into flats or student housing that either aren’t ready, or have loads of damage! But as a standard rule, your landlord is legally responsible to fix anything before you move in, and throughout your tenancy. This should be in your contract, so make sure that you double check this.
What Repairs Landlords Responsible For Fixing?
Your landlord has the legal obligation to make sure that any damage that you report gets fixed. Make sure that you report any issues damage caused during your tenancy, as soon as it happens.
- Property Structure & Exterior: walls, window, roof etc.
- Bathroom: sink, taps, toilet, shower etc.
- Gas & Electrical Appliances
- Heating & Hot Water
- Electrical Wiring
You most definitely do not want to be living with more than you bargained for, so what do you do if you have a few extra guests? If you find that you have any nasty pests, get in touch with your landlord asap, and they are required to get it dealt with. They might need to get a team of experts will come out and handle this.
Your Landlord’s Safety Responsibilities
First and foremost, your landlord must keep the property you live in safe and free from health hazards. This includes maintaining fire, gas and electrical safety.
Fire Safety: Your landlord is responsible to follow fire safety regulations, making sure that you are protected in the event that there is a fire and to protect you from any fire hazards. You should have fire alarms throughout your building or property and these should be routinely checked to make sure that they are all still working properly. There should be at least one fire alarm on every floor of the building in your accommodation. If your property is a multi occupancy house, or an HMO, then there needs to be a fire extinguisher on each floor. Even if you live in a studio flat, there does need to be a fire extinguisher available for you.
Gas Safety: Your landlord has to ensure that any gas appliances are safely installed and maintained. These will need to be checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer to ensure that they are still working properly, and a record of when it was last checked should also be kept.
Electrical Safety: Your landlord has to make sure that any electrical installations, like wiring, lights switches, plugs etc. have been inspected by a registered electrician at least once every 5 years. Landlords are also required to make sure that any electrical appliances they supply you with are safe to use; eg. electric cookers, washing machines, kettles, microwaves etc.
How to Pay For Your TV Licence?
For those that have the money, we recommend paying your TV Licence for the year ahead in one go, and then it’s all out of the way. Alternatively, you can pay every three months or you can pay monthly. So take a look at which type of payment you think will be best for you. Click Here to Register & Pay For Your TV Licence.
Don’t Pay For a Full Year’s TV Licence If You Don’t Need To
What if you decided to buy your TV Licence during the academic year, but you won’t need one for the entire 12 months because you’ve decided to head home once your summer term has finished?
If you paid for the full year, you might be eligible for a TV Licence refund for the time you won’t be there! If you pay your TV Licence bill monthly, simply get in touch with the TV Licensing authority and let them know you’ll no longer need it and to cancel your payments.
You are only eligible for a refund if you’re moving to an address which has a TV Licence already, like your parents’ home. If you’re moving to a new address that isn’t licensed, you will only be able to claim a refund, if you’re no longer planning to need a TV Licence. You can take your TV license with you though, by simply changing your address.
What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your TV Licence?
If you don’t pay your TV licence when you need one , then you’re at risk of being fine £1000, and no student wants to be hit with that fine at all! It makes the £159 you have to pay not look so bad at all doesn’t it?
You will probably receive letters from the TV Licencing company, so don’t just ignore these letters. It’s easily done to miss them, but if you continuously ignore them, it’s not good. You will need to let them know whether you actually need a TV Licence or not, and by letting them know, you will (hopefully) stop getting letters from them.
This sounds very confusing, we know, and it can be hard to tell if you need a TV Licence or not, so you can always ask your landlord if you are a bit unsure. Or, if you really want to, you can just not watch any live TV, but that’s a bit drastic.
Tips & Tricks for Student Living
So now you know the ins and outs of your Tenancy Rights, and to make sure you’re not signing up for anything you don’t like the sound of. If you’re looking for more advice on student living, check out our Student Guide To Renting to learn the ins and outs of renting as a student, what to prepare for, and what to think about. For more advice on life at Uni visit our Student Advice Hub.