Nick Whittingham, Citizens Advice writes: “The house looked fine when we viewed it, but that was months ago, and I’ve heard horror stories about dodgy landlords for student houses.”
Going back to university or moving into a shared house for the first time?
Although this is exciting, it can be a nervous time if you have never rented from a private landlord before.
So, what should you look out for?
Here is a checklist of things to do when you first move in:
○ Make sure you have your landlord’s contact details. Your landlord is responsible for keeping your home in good condition and arranging repairs when they’re needed.
They should be your first point of contact if anything goes wrong.
○ Make sure your deposit is protected. Check that your landlord has given you information about the scheme used to protect your deposit.
○ Take photos on the day you move in. It’s also worth asking your landlord or letting agent for an inventory, to check everything is in order. Use this to note down any problems and the condition of the furniture, kitchen, carpets, bathroom etc.
○ Check if you’re in a ‘house in multiple occupation’. If you’re living with two or more people who aren’t part of your family, and share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen with you, this is considered an HMO.
This means your landlord must make sure your home meets certain safety standards. This includes making sure smoke alarms are installed and there’s a safe fire exit.
The landlord must also ensure shared areas such as staircases and corridors are clean and in good repair. Some HMOs need to be licensed by the council – if you’re unsure whether this applies to your home, check with your local council.
○ Make sure your landlord gives you: a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate, an Energy Performance Certificate and a How to Rent leaflet.
○ Understand your tenancy agreement. It’s important to know who’s responsible for paying bills and what to do if there are any changes, like if someone wants to move out. The Citizens Advice website explains the different ways shared accommodation can be organised.
If you encounter a problem with the property, contact your landlord.
If it relates to disrepair, for example if your heating system fails or there’s damp in the property, it’s best to put this in writing so that you have evidence if you need it later.
If your landlord is unresponsive or refuses to help, contact student services or Citizens Advice.
If you would like to speak to Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre, you can call us on 0800 144 8848(freephone), where we help thousands of people each year.
You may be coming to us for the first time, but we can help with issues such as housing, employment, asylum, debt, benefits, budgeting and much more.
See our website at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ for more information about the range of services that we provide as well as some self-help information and web enquiry form.