Moving to a new house, with new housemates and a new landlord – all whilst embarking on the journey of studying at university – is very exciting.
But, before you start packing, ask yourself: what do I need to know and do before I make this major life transition?
Our student guide to moving into your new accommodation covers the five most important aspects you need to know about and includes all the information and advice you need to ease into life as a student renter.
Whenever you move into a new home it is important to do your research prior to moving in. You could be moving into university halls or a rented home in a student area, either way a Google search could reveal key information you should be aware of.
Useful things to find out before moving in:
Try to find out as much information as possible about the property and surrounding area, this could aid the moving in process and help make you feel comfortable in your new home.
Another way to conduct research about your new area or accommodation is to ask current or past renters. It might be difficult to track people down in person, but university Facebook groups can be a great resource to find previous renters and learn about their experiences, or some universities will have student housing reps on hand to dish out valuable advice.
For more information, read our guide on what to look for when searching for your student house.
The tenancy agreement put together by your landlord and signed by you and your housemates, will clearly set out both your responsibilities as a renter and your landlord’s obligations. Some responsibilities that might fall at your door are utility bills and garden maintenance.
Maintenance of outdoor areas is a common cause of disputes between renters and landlords. So, make sure you establish whose responsibility the garden is to make sure there is no confusion further down the line. Check out Hamilton Fraser’s guide on how to avoid common garden disputes for more advice.
Another common cause of dispute is damp and mould, so your tenancy agreement might include information about how to manage this.
You must always fully read and understand your tenancy agreement before signing it. Understanding this legal and binding contract and being clear about your rights and responsibilities will help reduce the likelihood of disputes arising later on or at the end of the tenancy.
The tenancy agreement will clearly state what is included with the property, both in terms of furnishings and bills.
Make sure you understand which furnishings are included with the property, as it could come fully furnished or be unfurnished in which case you would need to purchase the essentials before moving in.
If your new home comes fully furnished, as most student lets do, you will usually be provided with a bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, a desk and a chair, although this varies from house to house, and you would need to enquire before moving. If the items listed above are provided you would only need to plan to bring smaller items with you, such as crockery and cutlery, and room decorations.
For specific guidance on decorations, always refer to your tenancy agreement as most landlords will forbid the use of blue tac and nails for hanging of posters. If you ae still unsure on the rules, it is important to ask your landlord to confirm what is permitted, in order to avoid potential disputes.
The tenancy agreement will also explain responsibilities when it comes to bills and will clearly state which party is financially responsible for which costs. Some rental properties come with utility bills included in the cost of the rent, but most tenancies will require the renters of the property to arrange and pay for their own utility bills.
There are many ways to pay bills, utility companies may give you the option to pay direct debits, or in arrears, so speak to your housemates and discuss what works best.
These additional costs can come as a shock if left unchecked, so if you are responsible for bills such as gas/electric, water or broadband, it is important to take control at the start of the tenancy by investigating different tariffs, finding the best deals, and paying bills on time to avoid mounting costs.
If you are moving into a furnished property, it is useful to rely on an inventory and check-in report that your landlord has created.
The report should confirm the condition of certain household items before you moved in, alongside photographic evidence and be signed by both you and your landlord to confirm that you are both in agreement.
When moving in, your landlord should take detailed inventory notes which describe the state of key items like the bed, sofa, carpet etc, and supplement these notes with time-stamped photographs. This will be referred back to when you move out at the end of the tenancy so it’s very important to make sure that the notes are accurate.
Once the check-in report is signed by both yourself and your landlord it can be used at the end of the tenancy when compared to the check-out report to settle any disputes. A good inventory can help avoid a dispute when the tenancy ends. Find out more in mydeposits guide, Inventories – the complete guide.
Arguably, the most important piece of information you need to know before moving into a property is the cost of rent and how this will be paid.
The tenancy agreement should state how much the rent will be, how often the rent should be paid (for example, monthly or quarterly) and how to pay it, providing the landlord’s bank details.
When it comes to the deposit, make sure you establish which type of deposit you are enrolled in, a traditional deposit or a deposit replacement.
Traditionally, a deposit is held in a government approved scheme, such as mydeposits, and a lump sum is paid to the landlord or agent at the start of the tenancy and returned at the end, minus any dispute deductions.
If opting for a traditional deposit it is a legal requirement that your landlord protects your deposit in a government approved protection scheme, such as mydeposits within 30 calendar days of receiving it.
Deposit replacements are an alternative to traditional deposits; they offer financial flexibility to renters as instead of paying an upfront deposit, you pay a non-refundable fee either monthly or yearly (depending on the provider) which is usually less than a traditional deposit. Deposit replacements provide the landlord with the same protection, but the crucial difference for the tenant is that, rather than paying an upfront deposit, they pay a non-refundable fee. Using a deposit replacement option avoids the ‘double bubble’ if tenants are between rental properties as there is no need for the tenant to find a large upfront sum whilst the existing deposit is being released.
Ome’s Deposit Replacement Membership aims to provide choice and flexibility for the modern-day renter by reducing upfront costs. Our membership replaces the upfront deposit with a small monthly membership fee (nine out of ten tenants will pay less than £10 per month with Ome) and also includes the exclusive benefit of including complementary access to our rental wellbeing helpline.
According to a recent Ome study, utilising data from mydeposits: 44 percent of student deposit disputes were due to an issue with cleaning.
Your tenancy agreement will state examples of what would cause deductions from your deposit at the end of the tenancy. It is important to read through this thoroughly to ensure you are aware of what could cause your landlord to deduct money from your deposit if you opted for a traditional deposit. Possible circumstances would be damage to the property, breakages or lack of cleanliness.
According to our recent research, cleaning, poor communication and damage to a property ranked as the top three issues in rental deposit disputes.
It is important to make sure that all of your housemates are fully aware of their obligations and that you all agree. Check out our list of top qualities to look for in a housemate.
When you move into a property it’s imperative that you know who to contact if an issue arises. Make sure you have contact details for your landlord or agent so that you can contact them in the event of a problem or emergency.
When it comes to repair responsibilities in the property, it is vital to know what you, the renter, are responsible for and what your landlord is in charge of maintaining. Renters are generally responsible for the following:
Read more on the repair responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Hamilton Fraser’s guide.
Some landlords or agents might prefer to be contacted through phone calls, but others might prefer text messages, WhatsApp or emails.
At the start of your tenancy make sure you are aware of how your landlord or agent prefers to be contacted and who to contact for specific problems because issues will inevitably arise. And, for steps on how to cultivate a mutually-beneficial relationship with your landlord, check out our guide: How to build a positive relationship with your landlord.
We recommend downloading our handy student renter top tip checklist and ticking off each action once complete. Now you’re well-informed and prepared for starting your rental journey in your new student accommodation!