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FRONT

PRIVATE HOUSING

GUIDE 2020


YOUR PRIVATE HOUSING JOURNEY Moving into private accommodation needn’t be stressful. This guide provides a handy overview of what you can expect to encounter at each stage of your private housing journey. The Student Hub is able to offer support and advice every step of the way. In person level 3 Sherfield Building Facebook /imperialstudentaccommodation

By email student.hub@imperial.ac.uk By phone 020 7594 9444

Website imperial.ac.uk/studenthub

Twitter @icstudenthub

BEFORE THE SEARCH

2

FOUND SOMEWHERE

Who to live with

4

Viewing the property

12

When to start looking

5

Negotiating an agreement

14

Where to look

6

Letting fees

14

Avoiding scams

7

Holding deposits

16

Types of accommodation 8

Checking the property owner

17

Costs and budgets

9

HMO checks

18

Where to live

10

References and guarantors

19

Right to rent

20

Security deposit

21

Contracts

22


MOVING OUT

MOVING IN Documents to have

26

Moving out checklist

35

Moving in t0-do list

27

Inventory checks and deposits 36

Inventory

27

Deposit disputes

37

Insurance

28

Deposit FAQs

38

Safety checks

28

Bills

29

TV Licence

29

Council tax

30

Deposit protection checks

30

HELP AND SUPPORT Where to go for advice

39

Useful contacts

40

Contract checking glossary

42

Notes

45

DURING TENANCY Repairs and responsibilities 31 Damp and mould

32

Infestations

32

Harassment

33

Leaving early

34

Disclaimer: This guide contains general information only. Nothing in this handbook should be construed as the giving of specific advice and it should not be relied on as a basis for any decision or action and is in no way intended as a substitute for professional advice specific to any individual case. Imperial College London does not accept any liability arising from its use. The Student Hub aims to ensure that the information is as up to date and accurate as possible, but please be warned that in certain areas, contact details are subject to change from time to time. Please note that the inclusion of named agencies, websites, companies, products, services or publications in this handbook do not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by the Student Hub.

3


BEFORE THE SEARCH Do your research before you jump into the search process. Arming yourself with essential knowledge on what you’re looking for, what your budget is and where you want to live will not only ensure you find the ideal place for you, but will help to avoid being scammed or pressured into a decision.

SECTION CONTENTS Who to live with

4

Types of accommodation

8

When to start looking

5

Costs and budgets

9

Where to look

6

Where to live

10

Avoid being scammed

7

WHO TO LIVE WITH Don’t rush into living with people you don’t know very well; even if you have been on the same course or lived in the same halls, living together in private accommodation can be very different.

„ Will your housemates do their fair

Contracts are binding and it can be hard to leave them.

„ Do you live to a similar schedule?

Choose the right people to live with and you’ll have a great time. Making the right decisions at the outset could lead to one of the best experiences of your life.

4

share of the household chores?

„ Will they pay their rent on time? „ Will they act in a responsible way?

„ Do you all go to bed early or prefer to stay up late?

„ Do you all have the same budget?


WHEN TO START LOOKING

SEARCH TIMELINE

The majority of private accommodation in London is only advertised one to two months before it is available.

Start speaking to your friends about whether you want to live together. Think about where you want to live and what budget you have.

Estate agents won’t know what properties are available for September/ October until June, July or August. If you start looking earlier than this, you may be expected to pay rent on a property you aren’t ready to move in to. The landlords registered on Imperial Home Solutions are familiar with the student property market and some advertise their properties earlier in the year and allow you to view the property without having to move in or pay rent until September/October.

JANUARY, FEBRUARY

MARCH, APRIL, MAY Attend our annual Housing Events. Meet local estate agents, speak with accommodation experts and learn about house hunting dos and don’ts, contracts, deposits and much more. Landlords begin to advertise properties on Imperial Home Solutions and take advanced bookings.

JUNE, JULY, AUGUST

If you need to secure your accommodation before the summer, we recommend searching on the Imperial Home Solutions website.

This is a good time to look at estate agents; they will have a better idea of what will be available in September and October.

“ IF IT’S STILL MORE THAN A MONTH FROM WHEN YOU HOPE TO MOVE IN, DON’T HAVE YOUR HEART SET ON THOSE SAVED PLACES JUST YET. THE MARKET HERE MOVES SO FAST THAT MOST OF THE GOOD FLATS/ROOMS (I.E. NICE, REASONABLY PRICED) ARE GONE IN A FEW DAYS.”

SEPTEMBER Left it to the last minute? Don’t worry as there are still plenty of properties available.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER MOVE IN!

NOVEMBER, DECEMBER Relax and enjoy your new home.

Isaac Tan, Imperial PG student Read more about Isaac’s house search: bit.ly/Isaac-accommodation-blog

5


WHERE TO LOOK While there are lots of places to look for accomodation, most of you will do your searching online. There are plenty of websites that advertise spare rooms or available flats, but it’s worth looking for sites and listings that specifically cater to students.

IMPERIAL HOME SOLUTIONS Imperial Home Solutions is a property searching website exclusive to Imperial students. It’s a one-stop-shop for finding the perfect place to live and allows you to:

„ Search for properties advertised by private landlords and other students

„ Post messages about the kind of room

„ Create your own property shortlist „ Search travel times „ Find advice on private housing - and lots more! Imperial Home Solutions www.imperialhomesolutions.co.uk

(or roommate) you’re looking for

HALLS OF RESIDENCE Staying on in a halls of residence is a popular choice, offering a sense of familiarity but with more independence that the first-year experience. Imperial offers accommodation in one hall for continuing students, however there are also plenty of private hall providers offering a range of room types and facilities.

6

Imperial Halls - Evelyn Gardens

Private Halls

Staying on in College accommodation for another year could be a great transitional option.

There are plenty of private hall providers London for you to choose from.

Visit our returning students accommodation page for further information.

Visit our Private Hall’s page to find our more information about the agents that advertise with us:

bit.ly/evelyn-gardens-accommodation

bit.ly/private-halls


AGENTS Letting agents A letting agent advertises properties on behalf of a landlord. They manage the process until the tenant has moved in. The landlord would then collect the rent and deal with any problems or repairs that may arise. Managing agents Letting agents can manage properties in addition to simply putting prospective tenants in touch with landlords. If this is the case, you will find that the agent’s name and address appears on the tenancy agreement rather than the landlord. The agency will usually hold your deposit, collect rent and take responsibility for repairs to the property, although you still have the legal right to know the name and home address of your landlord. Warning: Don’t be pressured by aggressive sales tactics. There are always plenty of properties to choose from. PRIVATE LANDLORDS Private landlords are individuals who have one or more properties that they rent out, others just have rooms in the accommodation they live in. They advertise their properties through various channels: agencies, websites, social media or newspapers. You can search for properties advertised by private landlords on Imperial Home Solutions.

SCAMS Avoid being scammed. Your safety and security is most important, so if something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. View the student accommodation fraud warning issued by the Metropolitan Police: bit.ly/imperial-fraud-warning How can you protect yourself against scams? „ Never send money upfront before you’ve viewed a property „ Avoid listings that have no photographs „ Visit the rental property in person and check the landlord’s ID „ Check the authenticity of any safety certificates (e.g. gas safety) „ Be suspicious if you are asked to wire money through services such as Western Union „ Be sure to check that the property actually exists, photos are not a substitute „ Never pay for a deposit in cash. Use a credit card if you can – this offers more protection „ Use the land registry to check if the landlord is the legal owner of the property. See page 17.

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TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION

start here

Use our handy chart to figure out which type of property is right for you. Do you want to live on your own?

yes

no

Do you want to share a house/flat with friends or people you know?

yes Do you want to have your own bathroom?

yes

no Rent a room

Also want a separate lounge and bedroom?

yes

no

Consider renting a onebed flat You cherish your personal space and want lots of it! Be aware though: this is an expensive option

8

Become a lodger! choose between living with the landlord, or find a room with strangers and meet new people

Rent a studio apartment Everything you need in one place!

Happy to share a bathroom and a kitchen?

yes

no

Get a bedsit You’ll have your own kitchen in your room, but will share bathroom facilities

no

Share with your friends Find a house or a flat with your friends. You’ll sign a Joint Assured Shorthold Tenancy which means you’re all equally responsible for the property - be careful who you choose to live with!

Would you like to live in a student hall environment with shared facilities e.g. kitchen?

no

Try a studio in a private hall Get the best of both worlds! Complete privacy within a student environment

yes

Live in a cluster flat within a private hall You’ll have your own room - sometimes even an en-suite - but will share your kitchen with other students


COSTS AND BUDGETS Before you start your search, you should consider what other costs you’ll have when drawing up your budget. The Money Advice Service gives information about the average utility bill prices across the UK and advises how you can find cheaper deals by switching suppliers. www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk UTILITY BILLS Water

Broadband

If you do not have a water meter you will pay a set yearly charge, but you can ask for this to be paid in monthly installments.

Typically paid monthly; do look around for the best deal!

Electricity and gas Utility companies tend to bill monthly or quarterly. Ask to be switched onto the schedule that works best for you. Ensure you provide actual meter readings so that you only pay for what you have used. Prepayment meters: If your property has a ‘pay as you go’ meter, you will have a key or card which tops up the meter with credit. You can top up at the Post Office or any local shop which displays the Payzone or PayPoint logo.

TV Licence If you watch live TV, catch up service or streaming, you will need a TV licence. Currently £154.50 per annum, more info 29. Insurance Typically paid monthly. Look around for the best deals. Endsleigh are responsible for insurance in Imperial halls of residence. Their website is www.endsleigh.co.uk

OTHER COSTS

DEPOSITS

Don’t forget to include these other costs in your budget.

You may be required to pay a holding and security deposit. Find out more about these on page 21.

„ Travel - get discounted travel with a student Oyster card

„ Food „ Socialising „ Phone bills „ Council tax (if you are not living with only full-time students - see page 30)

COST OF LIVING Get information about the cost of living in London, money saving tips and advice on where you can access financial support if you need it from the College’s website: bit.ly/ic-living-costs 9


ROOMS AVAILABLE FOR 2020/21

EARLS COURT

PARK HOUSE 10

SHORT LET Prices from £250pw

ge_Advert_V2.indd 1

28/01/2020 10:47

www.nidostudent.com

Book a tour today

In-house gym

Walk to Imperial College

2

Agents services

1 Bedroom Bedsits 1 Bedroom/1 Bath Studios Home solution

RENT RATES

Utilities included

Affordable price

SW7 Top rated

Starting at £210 PW Starting at £267 PW

+447711157939

24 Queensberry Place SW7 2DR

Comfortable, Self-Catered, with fully equipped Kitchens, Bath and on-site Laundry facilities.

International Student Services

www.imperialhomesolutions.co.uk Browse the site for essential house hunting advice as well as the latest news and upcoming events.

Create property favourites and housing alerts Engage with the community message board to look for flatmates Search properties with private landlords, Estate Agents and Private Halls providers

Where to look?

23

17

22

45

Travel times in minutes

870

Average rent pw

FRONT

Z2

SHEPHERD’S BUSH, W12 West London Hammersmith and Fulham

An exclusive house search service only for Imperial students

AREA GUIDE 2020

Imperial Home Solutions Search properties available with private landlords and look out for rooms and flatshares listed by Imperial students on the dedicated message board. www.imperialhomesolutions.co.uk

3

Properties I’ve viewed

iss.24@londonroom.info

Bike storage

London

NOVEMBER DECEMBER

d?

er of

OCTOBER SEPTEMBER

ean?

£207-267

studio

£270-330

1 bed

£339-399

2 bed

House viewing guide

HouseTakehm JUNE

Safety

Properties I’ve viewed LookingKey to Areas rent accommodation in the JULY 2 3 Cleaning private sector? To get you started we1 AUGUST

havedetectors put together handy pocket Are working smoke and firethis blankets fitted?

GOT A QUESTION?

Get in touch with the Student Hub, the single point on campus for all your queries.

• accommodation • admissions • exam arrangements • exchange programmes

Key Areas

This is a good time to look at agents; they will have a bette

Is the house clean? of what will be available in

Is the house free from signs of pests/rodents ( droppings)?

Can you open all exit doors from the inside?

September and October. Will you be provided with equipment to keep i

tomain helphallway, you decide which If there was a guide fire in the could you still London area suits you best. escape?

Plumbing

Are all the gas/electric appliances safety tested? Does the cooker work?

Do all the taps work?

Come along to our housing events. hot water tap? speak with MeetEven localthe estate agents, accommodation experts and learn Do the sinks drain? aboutIshouse hunting dos and don’ts, the toilet leak-free? contracts, deposits and much more.

Is the heating in the house adequate?

• student financial support • student records • tuition fees • other College services

Security

Are external doors fitted with strong, secure locks? Are ground floor windows lockable?

Does the shower work properly?

Are there enough bathrooms for the number o Landlords begin to advertise properties housemates? on Imperial Home Solutions. imperialhomesolutions.co.uk Furniture

Are ground floor curtains thick enough to not be seen through?

What’s inside

Location

Is transport to and from College (including by foot) 16 most popular areas for accessible? ▸

Level 3, Sherfield Building

Has the house got enough furniture MARCH for the nu housemates sharing? APRIL

Imperial students to live When and where to look Support available to you

Is there enough space in the MAY kitchen to store f

Are there shops and services nearby?

020 7594 9444 student.hub@imperial.ac.uk @icstudenthub

1

LONG LET Prices from £210pw

3 Bedroom/2 Flats showing Starting at £600 PW On the opposite page is aBathmap London postcodes colour-coded based on their median monthly rent rates. The rent data used comes from London Rents Map, a website that provides a useful overview rent areas in Greater London. Modern, Clean &of Affordable Studio Apartments in Central & West London Visit their website at: www.london.gov.uk/rents Hammersmith, West Kensington & Earl’s Court

Nido Walthamstow prices from £199/week Nido Wembley prices from £189/week

Nido West Hampstead prices from £234/week

Social spaces & study rooms

Fully-furnished ensuite and studio rooms with:

1

1

Student noticeboards Check with your hall, Students’ Union and departments for notices. Also look for posts from other Imperial students on College Facebook pages.

f the

Relax and enjoy your new home!

Estate agents Advertise properties through their own agencies, or they will place adverts on property listing websites such as: ▸ findaproperty.com ▸ rightmove.co.uk ▸ zoopla.co.uk

MOVE IN!

General websites and forums Look out for properties on: ▸ studentrooms.co.uk ▸ spareroom.co.uk ▸ gumtree.com

Left it to the last minute? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of properties available!

ch as

tate dea

ith you to viewings and make notes! nting timeline

Imperial students living here

Our Area Guide map highlights the 16 most popular areas Imperial students choose to live in, along with the average prices for the area and travel times to campus.

AREA GUIDE ▸ ▸

Is the furniture fire resistant?

Does the roof look good condition? ▸ inChoose the right area for you

Is all the furniture in good condition?

Outside

ThinkLandlord about who you Services want to live with and Does theyour landlord provide window cleaning? where. Take budget Does the landlord include anything else as pa into consideration. JANUARY rent (water bills/internet etc)? FEBRUARY

Are the gutters/walls free from plants growing inside? ▸ House viewing checklist Are the drains clear?

Are the wooden window frames or fences safe and free from rot?

Does the landlord provide lawn cutting?

you’d use?

„ Does the area have the amenities

long will it take?

Our Rent Guarantor Scheme Are you looking to rent private accommodation and need a UK guarantor? Imperial can help you out.

„ How will you get to College and how What is a guarantor?

A guarantor agrees to guarantee the payment of your rent to a landlord/ agent in the event that you cannot meet your financial obligations. Many landlords require a UK-based guarantor, meaning that some international students may encounter difficulties.

„ Does the area feel safe?

Would you be comfortable walking far at night/in bad weather?

To support this, the College can act as a UK-based guarantor for Imperial students who may require this service when securing rental of private accommodation up to the value of £250 per week, per person.

„ Does your route involve a long walk?

„ What’s your budget? Find out if you are eligible and learn more online: imperial.ac.uk/accommodation/rentguarantor

of the city or would a quieter, more suburban area suit you better?

Imperial_Col

„ Would you prefer the hustle and bustle

„ Is there good public transport nearby? location?

„ Is the property in a convenient

London’s diversity makes it an exciting place to live. Each area has a unique character so you’ll need to think about what’s important to you. Below are a few things to consider when deciding where to live in London. South Kensington, Gloucester Road, High Street Kensington (SW1,SW3,SW5, SW7,SW10 & W8)

We are specialised in providing student accommodation for the past 21 years.

• We provide Out of Hours Tenant Support by email upto Midnight 7days a week throughout the year. • Free storage service available for early booking. • No additional charges for maintenance or accidental damage. • Free high speed Wi-Fi on selected properties. • Air conditioning on selected properties. • Free laundry facilities on selected properties.

WHERE TO LIVE • Long let - Tailored 6 - 9- 12 months contract • Summer School Courses & Internship Program • Short let all around the year from 1 week up to 6 months

138-140 Cromwell Road London SW7 4HA

+44 020 7373 3348 +44 020 7373 0323

+44 07841 222 222 +44 07843 222 222

www.rrproperties.co.uk info@rrproperties.co.uk


RENT RATES - POSTCODE MAP

St Mary’s Campus Hammersmith and White City Campus

W

Charing Cross Campus

South Kensington Campus

Chelsea and Westmister Campus

Royal Brompton Campus

£350+

£300 £350

£254 £300

£220 Under £254

£220

Price per week 11


FOUND SOMEWHERE. NOW WHAT? You’ve searched online and have shortlisted some potential properties. When you go to view the property it’s important to know what questions to ask and what to look out for. Once you’ve decided that a property is for you, make sure you’re armed with knowledge of your rights to ensure you get the best deal.

SECTION CONTENTS

VIEWING THE PROPERTY

Viewing the property

12

Reaching an agreement

14

Understanding letting fees

14

Holding deposits

16

Property owner and HMO checks 17 References and guarantors

19

Right to rent

20

Security deposits

21

Contracts 22 Break clauses 24 Contract checking

25

View a property before signing the contract; photographs are not a substitute for visiting a place yourself. It may be useful to take notes and photographs while you are there. Listed opposite are things to think about and questions to ask when you’re viewing a property. If there are significant repairs to be made, or you ask for certain items to be supplied (eg, security lighting) not all landlords will be prepared to carry them out. In most cases you take the property as seen. It is for you to decide if the property suits you. TOP TIPS View the property both day and night, ideally with a friend. Time your journey and ensure you are comfortable with the commute Are there current tenants who can give you an insight as to what the landlord is like?

12


VIEWING CHECKLIST QUESTIONS FOR THE AGENT OR LANDLORD □ Who manages the property? □ Who do I pay my rent to? (The agent or the landlord?) □ Who do I report repairs to?

SAFETY CHECKS □ Is there a gas safe certificate? □ Are there working smoke or heat detectors? □ Is there any outside security lighting?

□ Are bills included?

□ Do the electrical appliances and fittings have a NICEIC safety certificate?

□ How many people will be sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities?

□ Are there enough plug sockets? I.e. in bedrooms for computers, phones etc.

□ How is the house heated?

□ Are there satisfactory exits if there was a fire?

CONDITION OF THE PROPERTY □ Is there enough furniture? E.g. beds, wardrobes, sofa, chairs and desks etc. □ Is the furniture in good order? □ Does the kitchen have enough cooking/ laundry facilities? □ Are they in working order? □ Are there signs of damp, mould and draughts? □ Is the property clean and well maintained? □ Are there any repairs being carried out? □ Will they be complete when you move in? Get it in writing. □ Is the house free of pests? Mouse droppings are a giveaway.

□ Are there sufficient locks on doors and windows? □ Does the furniture/mattress have either a fire resistant label or kitemark?

“I LEARNED FIRST HAND HOW PROPERTIES CAN LOOK VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE PICTURES POSTED ONLINE... IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT WITH YOUR OWN EYES, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT SETTLING” Isaac Tan, Imperial PG student Read more about Isaac’s house search: bit.ly/Isaac-accommodation-blog 13


REACHING AN AGREEMENT WITH AGENT/LANDLORD NEGOTIATING RENT Is the rent reasonable? Make sure you visit other similar properties in the area to make sure you are not being overcharged. You can also compare rents of similar properties online. ADDING BREAK CLAUSES OR CHANGING CONTRACT LENGTH Signing a contact is a legally binding document and your circumstances may change. If you are unsure that you can commit to the full contract term, you may be able to negotiate a break clause or a shorter contract. See page 24 for further details on break clauses.

ADDING ITEMS AND REQUESTING WORK TO BE CARRIED OUT If you have requested additional items to be included (eg. an extra desk) or works to be carried out prior to the start of the contract, you will need to get this confirmation in writing. Any promises made should be written in the holding deposit receipt and in the tenancy agreement. See page 24 for details on how to include additional items in your contract.

UNDERSTANDING LETTING FEES

FROM 1 JUNE 2019, THE TENANT FEES ACT CAME INTO ACTION, BANNING MOST LETTING FEES AND CAPPING TENANCY DEPOSITS PAID BY TENANTS IN THE PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR IN ENGLAND. This act will also ban any prohibited fees for all existing tenancies from 1 June 2020.

14


WHO DOES THE BAN APPLY TO? The ban applies to most private tenants, including those who have an assured shorthold tenancy, are in student housing or a lodger. The ban on fees will not apply if you signed your tenancy agreement before 1 June 2019, even if your tenancy starts after this. Your landlord or agent will still be able to charge fees until 1 June 2020. WHAT YOU CAN’T BE ASKED TO PAY

WHAT YOU CAN STILL BE ASKED TO PAY

If you sign or renew a tenancy you can’t be asked to pay for:

The only fees that you can be charged are: „

if you are more than 14 days late paying your rent

credit and immigration checks

„

for the cost of replacing a key or fob

„

administration

„

„

renewing your contract

if you want to end or change a term in your tenancy

„

referencing

„

WHAT IF I’M ALREADY IN A TENANCY? The ban won’t apply to existing tenancies until you renew for a new fixed-term tenancy, or until June 1 2020 - whichever comes sooner. If you signed your contract before 1 June 2019 and it states that you must pay a renewal fee to renew your tenancy then this still applies if you renew before 1 June 2020. However, the landlord or agent won’t be able to include any further charges in your renewal agreement. If you renew your tenancy, after or on 1 June 2020, any deposit money you have paid that exceeds 5 weeks’ rent must be refunded. If you leave your tenancy before 1 June 2020, you will still have to pay a check out fee or inventory fee if this is stated in your contract. More information For more information, see the Guidance for Tenants, published by the government. www.gov.uk/guidance/information-for-tenants The Student Hub offers a contract checking service, so make an appointment before signing if you have any doubts. 15


HOLDING DEPOSITS A holding fee is paid if you agree to take the property, but have not signed the contract to take up the tenancy. Don’t pay it if you’re not absolutely sure. It will probably not be refundable. Ask for a receipt and a copy of the terms and conditions. HOW MUCH YOU CAN BE CHARGED From 1 June 2019, a holding deposit can’t be more than 1 week’s rent. WHAT A HOLDING DEPOSIT RECEIPT SHOULD INCLUDE:

„

Amount of holding deposit

„

Address of the property

„

Proposed rent for the property

„

Length of contract

„

Tenancy start date

„

Requests for the landlord (e.g. cleaning or furniture to be provided)

„

Conditions for refunding the deposit should you or the landlord change your mind or your references fail

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PAY A HOLDING DEPOSIT „

The landlord or agent should stop advertising the property

„

It is not permitted for the Landlord to take a holding deposit from more than one person for the same property at the same time

„

You have 15 days from when you pay a holding deposit to enter into a tenancy agreement

„

You can agree a different deadline with the landlord or agent in writing


If you enter into a tenancy agreement, the landlord must either: „

Return your holding deposit within 7 days of agreeing the contract

„

Deduct if from the security deposit (see page 21) or the first rent payment with your permission

What if the landlord changes their mind? If the agreement is cancelled, and it’s not your fault, the holding deposit should normally be returned to you. What happens if I change my mind? You could lose your holding deposit if you decide not to go ahead, or don't take reasonable steps to agree a tenancy by the deadline.

CHECKING THE LEGAL PROPERTY OWNER A large majority of students would rather rent a room in houses/flats with other students (not always Imperial Students). This can sometimes be problematic as the Landlord may have a tenancy with one tenant but allow them to rent out additional rooms - this is called sub-letting. However, in some cases the landlord does not have any knowledge of this subletting. Without an official contract between you and the legal property owner you do not have any protection and the landlord could ask to leave the accommodation immediately or could ask you to pay additional rent. If you are unsure whether the landlord owns the property you are about to rent, use the Land Registry website which may have a record of your landlord’s name and address: www.landregistry.gov.uk „

You’ll need to pay a small fee for this information.

„

If the prospective landlord is not the property owner, you will need proof that they have the right to rent it to you.

17


HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY Does your landlord have the correct licence for the property? If you live in a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) it is worth checking if the landlord has the correct licence to legally rent out their property. WHAT IS AN HMO? HMOs are properties where three or more unrelated people share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom. HOW DO I FIND OUT MY PROPERTY HAS AN HMO LICENCE?

WHAT IF AN HMO DOESN’T HAVE A LICENCE?

To find out whether a property has an HMO licence, ask your landlord or contact your local council. They have a list of all the licensed landlords in their area.

It is a criminal offence for your landlord to operate an HMO without a licence, and they could face prosecution.

www.gov.uk/find-local-council

If you think that the HMO you are living in may be unlicensed, you should report your landlord to your local council. You may be eligible to make a claim against them for a ‘rent repayment order’.

UNDERSTANDING LICENSING Large HMOs require a mandatory licence to operate

Properties that aren’t large HMOs may still require a licence

A property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following criteria are met

Some councils have introduced additional licencing requirements

If there are five or more unrelated people in a property Some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities At least one tenant pays rent

18

Check if your landlord needs a licence: www. londonpropertylicencing .co.uk

Check the council website of the borough you are moving to


REFERENCES AND GUARANTORS It is likely that you will need a reference in order to let a property. Most students have yet to build up a credit history to provide the kind of references that agents require. Some agents may settle for a letter from a previous landlord or employer, or a bank statement showing proof of funds and written proof that you are an enrolled student. If not, the agent or landlord may ask you if a parent will act as your guarantor (this person must be UK-based). WHAT IS A GUARANTOR? A guarantor is someone willing to be responsible for payment of your rent or damage if you don’t pay it. Remember, you and your flatmates will all be liable as well as your guarantors. If you do not have a UK-based guarantor, the agent or the landlord could ask you to pay more rent in advance. It is common to pay between 3 and 6 months rent in advance when you don’t have a guarantor. We would advise not to pay more than 6 months.

RENT GUARANTOR SCHEME The College can act as a legal guarantor for students renting in the private sector who are not able to provide a suitable UK guarantor. The scheme is managed by the Student Hub, and will allow successful applicants to rent any property up to a maximum weekly allowance. Please visit our website to check if you are eligible and read our full terms and conditions. www.imperial.ac.uk/accommodation/rent-guarantor Please note a £60 inc. VAT administration fee applies per submitted application.

WE HAVE ACTED AS GUARANTOR FOR OVER 600 STUDENTS SINCE 2017

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RIGHT TO RENT Private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants. WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO PROVIDE? A landlord will want to see an original copy of your passport and any relevant visa document demonstrating a legal right to live in the UK. If you are unable to provide such documentation because your application is in process or you’re appealing a decision, the landlord can ask for a ‘right to rent’ check from the Home Office. See the website for more information: www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO RENT? Depending on your immigration status you will either have:

An unlimited right to rent

A time-limited right to rent

Right to rent checks take place before the start of your tenancy

Right to rent checks must be done within 28 days of the tenancy start date

No further checks are required for this tenancy

Your documents will need to be checked again at the following intervals:

CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY ON WWW.GOV.UK If you need further help or advice you can visit the International Student Support Office, Level 3, Sherfield Building 20

Annually from the date the last checks were made Until the expiration of your ‘leave to be in the UK’ Until the expiration of the documentation which evidences your right to be in the UK


SECURITY DEPOSITS The security deposit (also known as tenancy deposit) is an amount of money that you pay to the agent/landlord for any damage and/or cleaning that may be required when you leave the property. The return of your deposit will rely on a number of conditions laid out in your contract. Most common causes of deductions relate to the state of the property when you leave, so be sure to have a detailed inventory to refer to. (see page 27) From 1 June 2019, the maximum tenancy deposit is equal to 5 weeks rent. WHAT IS TENANCY DEPOSIT PROTECTION? It is an independent scheme that has been designed to ensure: „

You get all or part of the deposit back when you are entitled to it.

„

Disputes between you and your landlord will be easier to resolve as an independent third party is involved.

„

Tenants and landlords/agents make a clear agreement from the start on the condition of the property.

DEPOSIT PROTECTION SCHEMES: HOW THEY WORK Your landlord or agent must protect your deposit with an authorised scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. Most private renters have this type of agreement. Your landlord does not need to protect your deposit if: „

You are living with your landlord as a lodger.

„

You live in the same converted building as your landlord but in a separate flat.

Your deposit should be protected in one of the following schemes: The Deposit Protection Service 0330 303 0030 www.depositprotection.com

My Deposits 0333 321 9401 www.mydeposits.co.uk

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme 0300 037 1000 www.tenancydepositscheme. com

THE AGENT OR LANDLORD HAS 30 DAYS TO PLACE YOUR DEPOSIT INTO ONE OF THESE SCHEMES Go to each website listed above to check if your deposit is protected. You need a postcode, surname, tenancy start date and deposit amount to search. 21


CONTRACTS Contracts are legally binding documents, ensuring both parties are clear as to the others’ responsibilities. Most contracts are for a fixed term of 9 to 12 months. If you have a longer contract, you may wish to request that a “break clause” be inserted into the contract (see page 24 for more information about break clauses). WHICH CONTRACT WILL I HAVE? Are you looking to rent a room and live with a live-in landlord?

yes

Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement

no

If you are not living with the landlord, then you will be signing an AST. There are two ways this can be applied.

Licence agreement If you become a lodger, this is the most likely contract type you will have.

Are you looking to rent a whole property as a group?

Joint AST When you rent as a group you most likely sign one contract with everyone’s names, meaning you are all liable for costs.

yes

no

Individual AST If you are renting a room in a houseshare, but the landlord is not living there, you may have an individual AST which will set out your legal obligations and liabilities.

TYPES OF CONTRACT Licence Agreement

If you live with a live-in landlord or a member of his/her family, it is likely you will have a Licence Agreement. Key aspects of this contract type are:

22

„

Your deposit does not have to be protected in a scheme

„

The landlord can enter your room without giving notice

„

The landlord does not have to go to court to evict you, but would be expected to give you reasonable notice


Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) Is a fixed term agreement between the landlord and tenant either individually or as a group. There are various clauses within the contract that both the landlord and the tenant(s) must abide by. The main obligations are: Tenant

Landlord

„

Pay the rent on time and in the manner specified

„

„

Keep the property clean and in good condition

Let you live in the property free from harassment (the landlord has to give reasonable (usually 24 hours) notice if he wishes to enter the property)

„

Not cause a noise nuisance

„

To protect the security deposit in one of the government schemes

„

Report any repairs or damage as soon as they occur (the landlord cannot be held responsible until they are informed)

„

To insure the building and the landlord’s contents (the landlord will not insure your belongings).

„

Return the property in the same condition as it was when you moved in (less fair wear and tear)

„

To carry out repairs within a reasonable time unless it is found to be the tenant’s neglect or misuse.

Joint vs individual tenancies Often students with an AST sign one contract with everyone’s names included. This means you are individually and jointly liable for the cost and state of the property. In practice, this means that if one tenant stops paying rent, then the others are responsible for ensuring the full amount is paid. If you sign a group contract the landlord will charge a total rent and it is up to you to decide the proportionate share of rent for each room. You could negotiate individual tenancies leaving you liable for the rent in your room only, but still jointly responsible for the shared rooms (e.g. kitchen) and all of the household bills.

23


CONTRACTS WHAT SHOULD BE IN YOUR CONTRACT

ADDING AN ADDENDUM

„

Landlord’s name and address with telephone number

„

Property address (of the house you are renting)

„

The amount of rent to be paid

“The attached tenancy agreement dated 1 February 2019 for the property 11 Mill Lane, London, WC1 1AA is being signed on the understanding that prior to the tenancy the landlord will provide the following items and will carry out the following schedule of work [date of completion].

„

Who the rent is paid to (the agent or landlord)

„

When the rent is to be paid (weekly, monthly, quarterly)

„

„

„

Wardrobes in each bedroom

„

Vacuum cleaner

Name of every tenant (not just the spokesperson)

„

Kitchen table and chairs

Details of services offered by the landlord (e.g. cleaning, gardening and maintenance etc.)

„

Professionally clean property

„

Paint bedroom walls”

„

Who is responsible for the bills (are they included/excluded from rent?)

„

Contact details in case of an emergency

„

Length of notice (is there a notice period?)

„

Landlord’s right of access

„

Where the security deposit is protected or who is holding the deposit

If you have requested additional items or works to be carried out prior to the start of the tenancy, the ‘addendum to contract’ is an example of how this should be done.

24

Items to be provided:

Schedule of work:

If the landlord fails to carry out the repairs or install listed items then the landlord or agent would be in breach of contract. ADDING A BREAK CLAUSE A break clause allows the tenant to give notice and leave the property prior to the end of the tenancy without any further obligation to the contract. If you have a joint AST and one person in the group initiates a break clause, then you all have to leave; however, if only one person wants to leave it may be possible for that person to find another tenant to replace them in the contract. Permission from the agent or landlord would be required and this may incur a cost.


CONTRACT CHECKING AT THE STUDENT HUB Top tips when it comes to signing a contract: „

Get someone to look over the contract your parents, a solicitor or the Student Hub

„

If the landlord/agent won’t let you take the contract away to get it checked first, think twice about signing it!Do not pay any money to the landlord/

agent until you are all happy with the contract „

Some landlords or letting agents ask for a holding deposit while you look over the contract. Check this is refundable if you decide not to take the property

„

Make sure you get a receipt for any monies paid to the landlord/agent

GET YOUR CONTRACT CHECKED BY THE STUDENT HUB Make an appointment to see one of our advisors: „

Read the full contract beforehand

„

Prepare specific questions

„

Use the online contract checker, which can be found on the private accommodation page of the website:

bit.ly/imperial-contract-checking

IN 2019 WE HELPED OVER 220 STUDENTS CHECK THEIR CONTRACTS AND SUPPORT THEM WITH DEPOSIT ISSUES

25


MOVING IN: THE FIRST FEW DAYS Before you can relax into your new home, take some time to check everything is in order once you move in. Thoroughly checking over all the documents, inventory and safety requirements now will help you in the long term.

SECTION CONTENTS Moving in checklists

DOCUMENTS TO HAVE 26

Inventory 27 Insurance 28 Safety 28 Bills 29 TV Licence 29 Council Tax 30 Deposit protection

30

If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy check that you have been provided with the following documents: □ A copy of the signed tenancy agreement (if there are parts crossed and amended after you’ve signed it, this is not a valid contract) □ Check-in inventory (see page 27) □ Gas safety certificate □ Energy Performance Certificate (landlords are required to achieve a minimum of an E grade) □ Prescribed deposit protection information HOW TO RENT BOOKLET The government have produced a guide for tenants and landlords to help establish each’s rights and responsibilities. Find a copy here: bit.ly/gov-how-to-rent

26


TO DO LIST Check inventory

Sort bills Internet

Submit council tax exemption

Get insurance

TV Licence Gas Electricity Water

INVENTORY Taking an inventory is a crucial first step when moving into any property. The inventory should consisit of a detailed list of items in the property, the condition they’re in and comments upon the cleanliness of the property. Take time to ensure that the inventory process is done well – you and your landlord will need to be able to compare the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy. If there is a dispute any adjudicator or court will look at this evidence. Checking the inventory When you move in, check the inventory and note any discrepancies and take photographs. You should then email the agent/landlord and state: “We moved into (address) today (date) and noted the following discrepancies” listing all of the changes. If an inventory hasn’t been organised, you can create one yourself using a template and then send it to the landlord or agent within seven days of moving in. Example of an inventory: Item

Condition

Lounge sofa

Not new, a few years old, worn with coffee stain on the arm

Lounge carpet

Not new, general good condition

Lounge walls

Painted a few years ago, mark by the window, dent near door frame

27


INSURANCE Landlords are responsible for insuring the building and their contents within it, however it is your responsibility to insure you personal possessions by taking out contents insurance. Many companies offer student deals. Look out for clauses that mean your possessions are uninsured if the property is unattended for a specified period of time. Whatever you decide to do about your insurance policy, remember that no or low insurance is false economy.

SAFETY Check that windows and external doors are secure and that they have adequate locks. Entrance doors should have a secure lock and, where possible, security chains and spy holes. Make sure the rear entrance is lockable and secure. If your house has a burglar alarm check your contract to see what your responsibilities are regarding setting it. If you are concerned about the security of a property then talk to your landlord. It is in their interest as well as yours to ensure that the property is secure. If the property needs any alterations to make it safe, ensure you have this written in the tenancy agreement with a specific date this work will be completed by. Gas Safety

Electrical safety

You should ask for a copy of the current Gas Safety Certificate. Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that all gas appliances are checked each year by a registered Gas Safe Engineer.

While the risk of electric shock or electrical fire is small, look for warning signs:

This ensures that your appliances are working effectively and guard against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning which can be fatal. It is not a legal requirement for the property to have a carbon monoxide detector, but you can ask your landlord for one to be installed or you can buy your own from around £20.

28

„

Frayed, cut or damaged leads

„

Cracked or damaged cases on plugs or appliances

„

Burn marks on plugs, leads or appliances

„

Blowing fuses

„

Loose cord grips in plugs or appliances


BILLS

„

USEFUL TIPS

All residents are jointly responsible for paying utility bills. Some landlords insist that you do not switch utility companies. Please check before doing so and be aware of utility companies who try to persuade you to switch bills.

„

If you have a choice, you may prefer a monthly payment scheme so you do not receive large quarterly bills

„

Arrange an area where bills and correspondence can be left for each other to see

Make a note of your meter readings on the day you move in and inform the supplier as soon as you can to avoid paying for the previous tenant’s bills.

„

Keep records of all letters and correspondence that you have had with suppliers. When a bill comes in, pay your agreed share immediately

Consider the following:

„

Open a joint bank account for bills only, and each set up a standing order

„

Start a money pot for household essentials, e.g. loo roll, washing powder

„

Will you all pay the utility companies individually or will bills be split evenly?

„

How will you let each other know when the bill arrives and who needs to pay what?

TV LICENCE If you watch live TV, catch up service or streaming, you will need a TV licence. How you will pay for your licence will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have. The current licence fee is £154.50 per annum, and if you are caught without a TV Licence you could face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. If you are away during the summer period you may be eligible for a refund.

DO I NEED A LICENCE? „

If you are in shared accommodation, with a TV in your room, and you have a separate tenancy agreement, you will need your own licence

„

If you have a joint tenancy agreement for an entire house or flat, you’ll just need one licence to cover the whole property

For more information go to: www.tvlicensing.co.uk

29


COUNCIL TAX If you and your housemates are all full-time students then you are exempt from paying council tax. You and your housemates will each need to submit a council tax exemption letter or proof of enrollment, along with a copy of your tenancy agreement to your local authority. This is usually done online. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself. If you live with someone who is in full-time employment and not studying, then council tax will be imposed on the property. You may be asked to pay a percentage of the cost. You are responsible for proving you are exempt from paying council tax.

Council tax charges

All full time students = Full council tax exemption

One is not a full time student = 25% Discount

2 X full time students 1 X part time student 1 X non-student = Full council tax is payable

TENANCY DEPOSIT PROTECTION You’ve already paid your security deposit to your agent or landlord (pg 21). Now you need to confirm this has been protected. Your landlord or agent is required to provide details about how your deposit is protected within 30 days of you making the payment. This information should include: „

The address of the rented property

„

How much deposit you’ve paid

„

How the deposit is protected

„

The name and contact details of the TDP scheme

„

The landlord or agent’s name and contact details

„

Who is paid the deposit

„

The name and contact details of any third party

„

In what circumstances would some or all of the deposit be retained

„

How to apply to get the deposit back

„

What to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy

„

What to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit

Depending on the scheme you may be given a certificate signed by the landlord or be provided with a repayment ID number. Keep this safe as you’ll need it to claim your deposit when you leave. With your postcode, surname, tenancy start date and deposit amount, you can also contact the schemes directly (pg 21) to check if your deposit is protected. See page 36 for how to get your deposit returned at the end of the tenancy. 30


DURING YOUR TENANCY Occassionally things go wrong. Whether it’s the boiler that’s broken, you find yourself sharing with some unwelcome furry friends or your circumstances have changed and you need to leave early, know your rights and responsibilities.

SECTION CONTENTS Repairs - landlord’s responsibilities 31

Harassment 33

Damp and mould

32

Leaving early 33

Infestations

32

REPAIRS „

„

„

„

„

Contact the landlord/agent immediately. They cannot be held responsible until they have been informed. Give details of what isn’t working, when it happened and if it affects anything else. Follow up phone calls with an email or letter (and always keep a copy). This is proof that you reported the repair. Check the ID of anyone who is called to your property e.g. an engineer. Write to your landlord in the first instance if they haven’t undertaken the repairs within a reasonable period of time. The law allows the landlord a ‘reasonable period of time’ to carry out repairs, but if you think that they are still taking too long to do them, you should contact the Student Hub.

Landlord responsibilities: „ Heating and hot water supply „ Basins, sinks, baths and toilets „ Structure of the property, windows, external doors, drains and gutters „ Gas appliances and fixed electrical installations Tenants responsibilities: „ Report repair issues to landlord or agent „ Change light bulbs „ Test smoke alarms and provide batteries „ Keep the property clean and in good order 31


DAMP AND MOULD Damp can cause mould on the walls and furniture, and make timber window frames rot. It can increase the risk of respiratory illness. It is not always the landlord’s responsibility to deal with damp. It depends on the tenancy agreement, the severity (e.g. if it is causing health problems) and the cause (e.g. disrepair to the exterior of the building). If you are concerned, you should seek further advice. If you are worried about your health, first contact the landlord, ideally in writing. However, if they fail to respond, you can contact the Environmental Health Department at the council and they should investigate.

Damp and condensation Depending on the cause, heating and ventilation can remove damp and hiring or purchasing a dehumidifier can help. Avoiding excessive moisture in the air by: „

Covering pans whilst cooking

„

Opening windows after showering

„

Drying clothes outside

INFESTATIONS Infestations can be a problem. Local councils often offer a service to treat or eliminate them. WHAT YOU CAN DO

WHAT THE LANDLORD CAN DO

Regularly clean and take out rubbish and recycling. Do not leave anything edible or perishable out; use plastic containers for food. Follow the instructions from pest control professionals.

Block any holes that might be letting pests into the property. If the infestation was an existing problem before your tenancy, the landlord will be responsible for resolving the problem.

BEDBUGS Bedbugs are becoming more and more common in London. Ensure you report this immediately and seek advice about how to deal with the problem. Do not take furniture from the street as they might have an infestation. Be aware that bed bugs can attach themselves to clothing and move from property to property in this way.

32


HARASSMENT

Examples of harassment

WHAT IS HARASSMENT Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave. Landlords cannot force you to leave without a court order or formal notice being served. IF YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING HARASSED, YOU CAN SEEK SUPPORT AT THE STUDENT HUB

„

Stopping services, like electricity

„

Withholding keys, eg: there are 2 tenants in a property but the landlord will only give 1 key

„

Refusing to carry out repairs

„

Anti-social behaviour by a landlord

„

Threats and physical violence

LEAVING THE PROPERTY EARLY A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. Once you sign a tenancy you are obliged to continue paying rent until either: „

You and the landlord agree to end the contract early

„

The contract comes to its natural end

„

The property is no longer available to you

If a landlord/agent won’t agree to release you from your contract early, then, you will be responsible for the payment of rent for the rest of the tenancy period. CAN I JUST MOVE OUT? You cannot simply end the agreement unless the following apply: „

The property is unfit to live in

Note: This would have to be proven. It will be determined by the Environmental Health Officer from the Local Authority.

„

You were given misleading information or pressured to take the tenancy

Note: This would have to be proven.

Please make an appointment at the Student Hub if you are experiencing any of the above.

33


WAYS YOU CAN LEAVE A PROPERTY EARLY BREAK CLAUSE You may be able to end your tenancy early if the contract includes a break clause. Check the conditions within your tenancy agreement to see if it allows you to leave before the end date. Note: If you are in a joint fixed term tenancy and you initiate the break clause then all occupiers of the accommodation will have to leave; you cannot use the break clause if only one person wants to leave. ASSIGNING A REPLACEMENT TENANT A landlord or agent may consider releasing you from your contract if you find a replacement tenant. „

„

If your landlord refuses to consent to an assignment, this may be classed as unfair

„

There may be a fee for this but landlords cannot charge unreasonable fees, this should be around £50

„

The assignment must be recorded in writing by ‘Deed’ and signed by the landlord and all the tenants

„

34

It is your responsibility to find a replacement tenant and the remaining tenants must agree

You will remain liable for the rent until the replacement tenant takes over. Your deposit should be returned once it has been established by the landlord that you shouldn’t have any deductions and the replacement tenant has moved in and paid their deposit

Warning: If a new tenancy is not drawn up and the replacement tenant does not pay the rent or defaults on the agreement, then you will still be liable. SUBLETTING This is when you find a replacement tenant for your room but you continue to make payments to your landlord. We do not encourage subletting as this can lead to complications such as: property disputes, issues with utilities, no legal protections, insurance problems, surprise roommates and bad behaviour. Warning: You must get consent from your landlord and housemates before subletting. SURRENDER A surrender is a voluntary agreement between the landlord and tenant that the tenancy has come to an end. A surrender will terminate the tenancy, whether it is fixed-term or periodic. It must be agreed by ‘Deed’. The deed must be signed by both landlord and tenant. A landlord/agent may charge a fee if the tenant/licensee asks to surrender their tenancy/licence. There are restrictions on what can be charged. For more information, read the government’s tenant guidance. http://bit.ly/gov-tenant-guidance


MOVING OUT You’re packing up and preparing to leave. Make sure you don’t miss out any crucial steps during your departure that could end up costing you some of your deposit.

SECTION CONTENTS Moving-out checklist

35

Deposit disputes

37

Inventory checks and deposits

37

Deposit FAQs 38

MOVING-OUT CHECKLIST □ Check your tenancy agreement

□ Check your meters

Does your contract have a moving out procedure? Check it and follow the requirements, especially the notice period.

Take final meter readings as you move out

□ Check your inventory

Ensure all your bills are paid up until the date you are leaving and inform the companies that you are moving out.

Make note of any damage or changes to the property to ensure you aren’t charged for damage you didn’t cause. □ Let your landlord or agency know when you are moving out Contact your landlord/agent to let them know your moving out date. Arrange for them to do a final check before you move out to make sure everything is in order. □ Take photos of the property Take photos of your property to show the condition you are leaving it in (provide datestamps if necessary).

□ Pay your final bills and cancel any contracts

□ Cleaning Deep clean your property before you move out – it needs to be in the same condition as it was when you moved it. □ Rubbish It’s your responsibility to dispose of your rubbish or you can be charged. □ Deposit Your landlord or agency is responsible for returning your deposit. If there are no issues it should be returned to you within 10 days of the end of your tenancy. 

35


INVENTORY CHECK OUT AND DEPOSITS You need to check the inventory and ensure that all items are back in their original rooms and that the property is clean. The inventory will be used to assess whether any deductions are made from your deposit. There is an allowance for ‘fair wear and tear’ which means any marks from normal everyday use is allowed. As long as the property is in the same condition as when you moved in, your deposit should be returned. Steps to getting your deposit returned 1.

Ensure you leave the property in the condition in which it was let to you - allowing for fair wear and tear - and check that you have paid your rent and any other expenses.

2. Attend the ‘check-out inventory’ and only sign the document if you agree with its contents; this will be used to assess any deductions from your deposit. 3. Once deductions from your deposit have been agreed, the landlord should return the undisputed amount of your deposit within 10 days. 4. If you agree to deductions with the landlord, think carefully about the cost of certain items/ services. A landlord or agent cannot charge for a new replacement item if the item was already old/used/worn when you moved in. For example, if a carpet is five years old at the start of your tenancy, but is subsequently damaged and requires replacement at the end of the tenancy, you will only be liable for a proportionate amount of the cost of a brand new carpet. WHAT DEDUCTIONS ARE ALLOWED

36

Allowed

Not allowed

„

Unpaid rent

„

Fair wear and tear

„

Damage to the property

„

„

Missing items

„

Cleaning costs

Betterment (charging you to improve the value of the property e.g. redecorating a whole room because of one scratch)

„

Changes to the property (if you make changes without consent, the landlord may charge you to put the property back to how it was before)

„

Charging you for damage that was there before you moved in


DEPOSIT DISPUTES It can take time to negotiate the release of a deposit. Sometimes deductions from the deposit will be reasonable and justified. On other occasions, you may feel the deductions are unreasonable. Initially, try to negotiate with the landlord or agent. It can be a lot easier and quicker to resolve it yourselves – the Student Hub can provide support with this. If your landlord is refusing to refund part or all of your deposit and you disagree with their reason, if you cannot contact them or they deny responsibility, then you need to take further action. If you have a Licence Agreement you can seek support from: „

Student Hub: Sherfield Building

„

Imperial College Union: Beit Hall

„

The Citizens Advice Bureau www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing

„

The housing charity Shelter: bit.ly/shelter-helpline

TAKING COURT ACTION If you are unable to negotiate with your landlord and an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is not available to you, you might consider taking court action. Warning: This process can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Before making a claim, make sure you seek legal advice. Need help writing your letter? Shelter England provide useful templates on their website: bit.ly/shelter-letters

These places can offer support and advice to anyone in private rental accommodation. What if my landlord won’t co-operate If the landlord is refusing to co-operate with the scheme to resolve the dispute, it will be mandatory for the case to be referred to the scheme’s ADR service. The landlord must hand over the disputed amount to the scheme for safekeeping until the dispute is resolved. The scheme administrator will divide the disputed amount in accordance with the ADR services or the court’s decision. More information can be found at: www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection

37


DEPOSIT FAQS I’m not happy with the proposed deductions, what can I do? Write to your landlord, your letter should include: „

Which costs you think are unreasonable

„

The reasons why you think the costs are unreasonable (you can relate back to the check-in inventory). If you believe the landlord is charging you too much for the replacement of items, search online and find at least 3 quotes for similar items and include these)

„

The amount you believe should be returned to you

„

Request the landlord to send you the list of deductions and costs, if they haven’t already done so

My deposit has not been refunded within 10 days of agreeing the amount? Write to your landlord requesting that the deposit be returned, the landlord should respond promptly My landlord has not responded to my letter/email, what do I do? Write again giving them a deadline within which to respond,eg 2 days. Visit the Student Hub, we can provide support.

What to do if your landlord won’t return your deposit or you cannot reach an agreement? If the landlord is refusing to co-operate with the scheme to resolve the dispute, you can use the free service offered by your tenancy deposit protection scheme to help resolve the dispute. The landlord must agree to use the service and once a decision is made, you’re both bound by the verdict. The landlord must hand over the disputed amount to the scheme for safekeeping until the dispute is resolved. The scheme administrator will divide the disputed amount in accordance with the ADR services or the court’s decision. More information can be found at: www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection Where is my deposit protected? Not sure where your deposit is protected? See page 21 for how to check your deposit is protected for details of how to check this. Is there is deadline to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Yes, it is usually within 90 days of the end of the tenancy. Check the timescale and process you need to use in order to make a claim with the scheme where you deposit is protected.


HELP AND SUPPORT There is lots of support available to you, so don’t be afraid to get in touch or seek out help if you need it.

SECTION CONTENTS Where to go for advice

39

Useful contacts 40

Contract checking glossary

42

Notes 44

WHERE TO GO FOR ADVICE STUDENT HUB

CITIZENS ADVICE

The Student Hub provides advice and guidance on renting in the private sector. If you need assistance please get in contact with us.

Citizens Advice is a network of independent charities throughout the United Kingdom that give free, confidential information and advice. They can help with housing issues and they have lots of useful information on their website. Find your local Citizens Advice bureau for face-to-face assistance: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Level 3 Sherfield Building student.hub@imperial.ac.uk imperial.ac.uk/studenthub 020 7594 9444 @icstudenthub SHELTER Shelter is a housing charity. You can get expert housing advice from Shelter advisers – over the phone, web chat, local advice centres or on their website. www.england.shelter.org.uk Tel: 0808 800 4444

IMPERIAL COLLEGE STUDENT UNION The Student Advice Centre can help you with common housing issues by calling 02075948060 or emailing  advice@imperial.ac.uk. www.imperialcollegeunion.org/advice/nonacademic-issues/housing YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL Your local Council can also assist with housing issues: www.gov.uk/find-local-council

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USEFUL CONTACTS

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS Police/Ambulance/Fire Brigade: 999 National Gas Emergency Service: 0800 111 999 POLICE NON-EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBER To report a crime that does not require an emergency response: 101 GAS British Gas www.britishgas.co.uk General Enquiries: 0800 048 0202 Gas Pay As You Go Enquiries: 0800 048 0303 Npower General Enquiries: 0800 073 3000 ELECTRICITY London Energy General Enquiries: 0800 096 9000 EDF Energy New customers: Sales Enquiries: 0800 096 4063 Existing customers: Account queries: 0800 056 7777 E.ON www.eonenergy.com General enquiries 0345 052 0000 Npower www.npower.com General Enquiries: 0800 073 3000

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WATER Thames Water www.thameswater.co.uk General Enquiries: 0800 316 9800 Billing and Account Enquiries: 0800 980 8800 TELEPHONE AND BROADBAND British Telecom www.bt.com General Enquiries: 020 7356 5000 Virgin Media www.virginmedia.com Contact number: 0800 052 0422 Sky www.sky.com General Enquiries: 0844 2411 653 TV LICENCE TV Licensing www.tvlicensing.co.uk General Enquiries: 0300 790 6130 and 0300 790 6144

Check with the landlord or agent who the current suppliers to the property are. Please note that the inclusion of named agencies, websites, companies, products, services or publications in this handbook do not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by the Student Hub.


COUNCIL TAX Please find below details of Local Authority Council Tax Departments: General Information www.gov.uk Valuation Office Agency www.voa.gov.uk 03000 501 501

Kensington & Chelsea www.rbkc.gov.uk counciltax@rbkc.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 7361 3000 Council Tax line: 020 7361 3005

Brent www.brent.gov.uk counciltax@brent.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 8937 1234 Council Tax Line: 020 8937 1790

Lambeth www.lambeth.gov.uk counciltax@lambeth.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 7926 1000 Council Tax Line: 0345 302 2312

Camden www.camden.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 7974 4444 Council Tax Line: 020 7974 6470

Southwark www.southwark.gov.uk counciltax@southwark.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 7525 5000 Council Tax Line: 020 7525 1850

Ealing www.ealing.gov.uk revenues@ealing.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 8825 5000 Council Tax Line: 020 8825 7050 Hammersmith & Fulham www.lbhf.gov.uk counciltax@lbhf.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 8748 3020 Council Tax Line: 020 8753 6681 Haringey www.haringey.gov.uk council.tax@haringey.gov.uk Out of hours enquiry Line: 020 8489 0000 Council Tax Line: 020 8489 3557

Tower Hamlets www.towerhamlets.gov.uk counciltax@towerhamlets.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 7364 5020 Council Tax Line: 020 7364 5002 Wandsworth Council www.wandsworth.gov.uk counciltax@wandsworth.gov.uk Enquiry Line: 020 8871 6000 Council Tax Line: 020 8871 8081 Westminster www.westminster.gov.uk westminster.counciltax1@secure.capita.co.uk Enquiry Line: 020 7641 6000 Council Tax Line: 0343 178 2743

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CONTRACT CHECKING GLOSSARY So, you’ve found the perfect home, and the landlord/agent has given you a contract to sign. You’ll definitely want to look through it carefully. Use our contract checking glossary to help you understand key terms usually found in a tenancy contract.

TERM

MEANING

Agency fees

Money due to an Agency, agreed with a client, as payment for providing a service.

Agreement

The contract made between the parties governing a Letting, which should always be in writing.

Alterations

Physical changes to a property.

Arrears Assignment

Assign

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

Breach of contract Contract Data protection Deposit stakeholder Dilapidation Discrimination Fair terms (see also unfair terms)

Rent payments lawfully due that have not been paid. The disposal or transfer of a tenancy.

To transfer rights, interest or a title in a property to a third party. A form of agreement that does not guarantee long term security but allows the landlord to reclaim a property at the end of the duration. At present, most private sector tenancies are in this form. See page 14 for more information on AST. Failure to carry out one’s obligation/s as set out in a formal agreement A document setting out a formal agreement between two or more parties. The scope of protection afforded to individuals in law regarding data records held both electronically and physically by an organisation. The person who holds the deposit and is responsible for its distribution at the end of the tenancy. Physical damage to a property caused by neglect or abuse. Describes criminal offences which, for example, may be alleged with reference to gender, race, employment or disability laws. Terms that are not unreasonable to either party to an agreement and do not breach statutory regulations


TERM Habitable Harassment

House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO)

Implied obligation Inventory

Joint and several liability

Landlord/lady

MEANING Clean, structurally stable, free from disrepair infestation and dampness prejudicial to health. The use of threats or violence to achieve an aim. It is a criminal offence for a landlord or agent to harass a tenant. A house occupied by persons who do not form a single household e.g. building converted into self-contained flats or bedsits; shared houses. Also see page 6 for more information on HMOs. An obligation prescribed by law not necessarily written and recorded in a tenancy agreement. Organised list of contents of a property – see schedules of condition/ dilapidation. See example of an inventory on page 19. If you are sharing accommodation and all your names are on one tenancy agreement you are likely to be joint tenants and the liability for rent and damage will be shared jointly between you all. If one person leaves the house the landlord can expect remaining tenants to pay outstanding rent. Owner of the freehold or lease of a property who lets the property to someone else.

TERM Quiet enjoyment

A document containing a clear record of rent payments and statement of statutory obligations.

Rent collection

The act of demanding and ensuring that rent is paid over in the manner specified.

Resident landlord Schedule of condition

Space heating

Statutory notices

Legally bound duty that an individual is required to undertake in order to fulfil the rules as set in law.

Statutory requirement/obligation

Letting

Process of arrangement between landlord and tenant and commitment to a tenancy agreement.

Statutory tenancies

Plant Periodic tenancy Possession Property inspection

Informal attempts of a third party to bring about the settlement of a dispute between parties to a contract. A general term of heavy equipment e.g. air conditioning systems, boilers. A legally binding document, issued at regular intervals, which creates a contract between landlord and tenant The control of the property. Various factors will indicate who is in possession of a property at any given time. A general visual tour of the property – not a survey.

The common law right of a tenant to possession and enjoyment of his/her tenancy without physical interference by his/her landlord or agents.

Rent book

Legal obligation

Mediation

MEANING

A landlord who is ordinarily living with the subject property. Special tenancy rules apply. See page 15 on license agreements. Organised list of the state and condition of a property and a specified date.

Appliances for the heating of an internal area of a building

Notices as provided in law requiring action by those who receive them or send them. Obligations required by law. For example, minimum health and safety standards exist in law for the regulation of rented properties. Tenancies granted or maintained by law

Tenancy renewal

The process of extending or renewing an existing tenancy for a further specified period of time, at terms to be agreed between the parties to the contract.

Unfair terms

Terms that are unreasonable to any – or all – parties to an agreement and may breach statutory regulations.

Utility companies

A term applied to commercial companies providing the essential services of gas electricity, water, sewage treatment and telephone.


NOTES

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Private Housing Guide 2020 - Full text  

Private Housing Guide 2020 - Full text  

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