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Guide to your rights as a tenant - for students
- AuthorGiles Dobson
If you are renting accommodation as a student, you should fully understand your rights - and your obligations. When things go wrong in your flat or house, you have the right to get them fixed. In this article, we look at your rights when renting and how to enforce them.
What should students know about renting?
There is government legislation that protects students (and their money) from letting agents and landlords, including rules such as the bedrooms must be of adequate size and that landlords must provide suitable rubbish bins.
Student renting rights
You cannot be charged unfair fees by your letting agent or landlord. Many rogue landlords will attempt to charge extortionate cleaning or ‘admin’ fees, but these are prohibited by law.
Your deposit must be held in a government-approved deposit scheme, and you can ask for a certificate from your landlord or estate agent.
Your property must be safe for you to live in. You should check if there is a fire, gas, and electrical certificate. If you have concerns about safety or hygiene, you should discuss these with your landlord or letting agent right away.
To ensure you get as much of your deposit back as possible at the end of your tenancy, agree on an inventory with your landlord or letting agent.
Your landlord must install a smoke alarm on each floor of your property, and in some cases also carbon monoxide alarms. However, it is your responsibility to ensure these are functioning correctly.
You should know who is responsible for paying bills, and at the earliest possible stage after moving in, take meter readings.
Your landlord or letting agent is responsible for making repairs as soon as possible, but you have a responsibility to mitigate any damage and contact them as soon as you notice a problem. Landlords must repair leaks, keep your heating functioning, and deal with any issues affecting water, electricity, or gas supply. They must also make repairs and maintain any appliances or furniture they have supplied.
If five or more people live in one rented property, the property must be licensed. The property may not have any ‘bedrooms’ of less than 6.51 square metres for one adult.
What happens if a landlord or letting agent will not make repairs?
In the first instance, you should try to resolve the matter with your landlord. Explain to them what the problem is and why it is essential that they make the repairs.
If a landlord will not make necessary repairs to your property, you can make a formal complaint to them. You should set out details of the problem and your rights as a tenant. However, it is essential that you keep paying rent. If you withhold rent payments, your landlord may have grounds to evict you. Your local council may also be able to step in to assist you.
There are also several independent schemes to help tenants resolve disputes with landlords.