Making a good choice of agent or landlord is important, as it could make a considerable difference to your student experience if you need to have repairs done.
The SU Advice Centre’s Landlord/Agent List is a good starting point in your search for an accommodation provider: see here.
Unfortunately there have been cases of students paying money for properties that don’t exist - has your landlord/agent got a physical office? Do they have a website? Do they give clear details about who they are, or is it vague and short on detail?
With the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act, from 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants for new contracts are:
- A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent (where the total annual rent is less than £50,000), or 6 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above.
- A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than 1 week’s rent.
- Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant.
- Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV Licence and Council Tax.
- A default fee for late payment of rent and the replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the property, where required under a tenancy agreement.
Full details of the Act can be found HERE.
If you feel you are being asked to pay unnecessary fees or have been required to pay fees since 1 June 2019, please contact the SU Advice Centre for help.
Other useful tips
- Talk to other students who have rented in the area before and find out about different agents/landlords.
- Check to see if the agent is a member of a professional body - if they are, they will have a code of conduct and professional standards. The main professional bodies are:
- All Letting Agents must be a member of a redress scheme so that if you have a dispute with your agent there is a complaints procedure they must comply with. The three approved schemes are:
For more information on redress schemes, including advice on checking which scheme your agent belongs to, see Shelter.
- It is a criminal offence for an agent to:
- Charge you for registering your details
- Charge for giving you information on properties.
If you are in any doubt about the agent and the way you are being treated, find another one – if the agent is not acting fairly towards you when you are looking for accommodation, they are likely to be worse when you are a tenant!
For more information on choosing an agent, see Shelter.