Top tips for private renting from Viridian HousingBy Viridian Housing
Renting a place for the first time in your adult life can be daunting for most of us. We've all heard stories about terrible landlords (or even bogus properties) so it makes sense to be cautious before signing on the dotted line.
Here are our top tips on what to look out for when renting privately:
Find out what’s included in your rent
Most student accommodation providers include bills, sometimes even Wi-Fi but not all, so always check. However, when renting from private landlords, Wi-Fi is rarely available, as they don’t tend to include services or any other bills. These bills can add up quite considerably (even when sharing a house or a flat) so do your homework and decide whether that house is as affordable as you initially thought it would be.
Ask for a full breakdown of fees and additional costs on top of your rent
What deposit are you expected to pay? Are there any other extras like inventory charges, compulsory insurance, fees for changes to the contract or cleaning?
Don’t forget to ask how your deposit is guaranteed
How will it be returned to you when you leave?
Make sure that you are happy with the inventory terms and what is listed on it
If necessary, take pictures of the items that are not in the condition described (or missing) in the inventory before signing it. Also, get a copy of the inventory with the landlord’s signature.
Find out what notice period you’re required to give if you want to vacate the property
Depending on your contract, you may need to give more notice than you anticipate.
Ask about emergencies and repairs
Make sure that your landlord has a process in the event of incidents such as suspicious gas smells or a broken boiler during unsociable hours. You ideally want a 24-hour contact number for complete peace of mind. Be clear what an emergency is – it isn’t your landlord’s responsibility to replace a lost key for example.
Try and arrange a breakout clause
This is handy if you don’t know how long you need to stay in a particular area. If that is your case, you may want to ask your landlord to add a six-month break clause in the contract, which means that you can cut your tenancy short without losing your deposit. Break clauses are not compulsory in any way but they may be useful for some young professionals, and some landlords may not mind adding one.
Don’t fall for a scam
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If in doubt, ask your university housing department to have a look at your contract before you commit to it. Most of them are trained to spot unfair clauses and they will be more than happy to help you.
Viridian is a housing trust and a registered charity committed to offering affordable accommodation to students and young professionals across London and the UK. It provides a wide range of accommodation, specialising in halls of residence, key worker accommodation and hostels.