Congratulations on getting a house sorted for next year.
Or at least getting pretty close!
You made it through the various stresses and viewings thrown your way and now only have to get over the final hurdle - the contract.
We can't lie to you, getting your contract sorted isn't the easiest task however it's important that you get it right. For most of you, it will be the first time that you've had to sort this kind of thing and we want to make it as easy as possible.
To be safe rather than sorry, check everything off this list BEFORE signing anything:
- Have you taken your contract away with you?
The landlord/estate agent might encourage you to sign it once you've decided you want to live in that house but you don't have to do that. In most cases, you have at least 24 hours to sign your contract so use this to take it home for a thorough read and back with any questions or queries.
- What type of contract is it?
Most contracts in the UK have Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements and in Scotland are Short Assured Tenancy Agreements. Double-check yours!
- Do you have a Deposit Protection Scheme in place?
The key is in the name - it prevents you from losing your deposit if the landlord claims money for 'damages' that weren't your fault. If you don't have one, you really need to get one.
- When does your tenancy start and end?
It may seem obvious but sometimes they can start in August before you've started university and obviously that's not ideal but you need to be aware either way so that you know when to collect your keys, pay your first month's rent and move in.
- Is insurance included?
It isn't always included but it's a huge positive if it is! If your landlord/estate agent has mentioned this at all during viewings or other conversations, be sure you get it in writing.
- Have they mentioned any estate agency fees?
Historically, applicants have been required to pay agency admin fees but from 1st June 2019, this became against the law in some cases. If they ask you to pay this, you may not always have to so be sure to challenge this.
- Are repairs included?
Have you noticed that things need repairing, or have you been promised that certain things will be sorted before you move in? Get this in writing in your contract so that you have the smoothest move-in process possible.
- Get. It. Checked.
You can ask your Accommodation Team at university, your Student Union or your parents/guardians. Your guarantor will also receive their own contract but get them to look through yours first to see if there are any alarm bells or things they notice are missing.
If you don't trust your future housemates or would just prefer to have extra peace of mind, we'd suggest getting individual contracts. This means you aren't responsible for your other tenants, i.e. if they don't pay their rent or they damage their room.