- The roof looks sound, there aren't any tiles missing.
- The gutters and pipes aren't broken, leaking or full of grass.
- The window frames aren't rotten.
- The windows aren't broken, cracked or draughty.
- No signs of damp, e.g: dark patches, peeling wallpaper or flaking paint.
- Few signs of condensation such as mould on the walls.
- There aren't any signs of pests, like slug trails and mouse droppings.
- Check if the furniture is included in the let.
Gas & Electricity
- The plugs don't get hot when switched on. Check there are plenty of sockets.
- The wiring doesn't look old, there aren't any frayed cables.
- The gas fire heats up properly and isn't heat stained (if it is it may be dangerous).
- When was the last service and is there a valid Gas Safety Certificate?
- The cooker works! Try it.
- There is hot water.
- The taps all work properly.
- The bath and basins aren't cracked and the toilet flushes properly.
- The external doors are solid with five-bar mortice locks. Your insurance may insist on this.
- Locks - If you rent your own room, with a separate tenancy agreement which includes shared use of common parts with other tenants, then your room should have a lock. Otherwise this may not be something the landlord is willing or able to do.
- The windows all have locks.
- Does it have a burglar alarm? Use your bargaining powers to get one. It is in the agent's/landlord's interest as well as your own.
- Does it have a smoke detector?
- Print out Check List:
Home Safety Issues
From 1 December 2022 landlords must ensure properties are in good repair and fit for human habitation (FFHH) from 1 December 2022.
The FFHH Regulations require a smoke alarm, in proper working order, to be present on every storey of a dwelling. Landlords must ensure each of these smoke alarms is in proper working order, connected to the electrical supply and inter-linked with all other smoke alarms connected to the electrical supply. To ensure that this requirement is met, the opportunity to test smoke alarms should be sought whenever possible, for instance whilst carrying out a necessary inspection, repair or electrical testing in the dwelling.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
The FFHH Regulations require a landlord to ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is present in any room which has a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance installed.
Inspection and testing of electrical installations
A landlord is required to have the electrical installations of the dwelling tested every five years unless the requirements of the EICR indicate a shorter testing interval is required. Where a shorter interval is included on the report, the five-year period will not apply and a future test must be undertaken at the interval indicated on the report. Failure to do so will mean the dwelling is considered unfit for human habitation.
The current EICR must be made available to the contract-holder within fourteen days of the occupation date. Where a Periodic inspection and testing (PIT) is carried out after the occupation date, the updated EICR must be provided to the contract-holder within seven days of the inspection date.
In addition, a landlord is also required to provide the contract-holder with written confirmation of all investigatory and remedial work carried out on the electrical installations as a result of periodic inspection and testing.
This written confirmation must be provided to the contract-holder within fourteen days of the occupation date. Where investigatory and remedial work is carried out after the occupation date the written confirmation must be provided within seven days of the landlord receiving this confirmation.
New build properties
Landlords may indicate that the dwelling is fit for human habitation as regards electrical safety through an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) where this certificate is in existence due to the property being a new build property. It must have been issued within the preceding 5 years.
- Clarify what is included in your rent. For instance, some agents/landlords include water rates, others don't.
- Some tenancies may also be inclusive of other bills such as gas and electricity. Check your tenancy agreement carefully before you sign it to make sure that it agrees with what you have agreed with the landlord/agent.
- If relevant, ask the previous tenants the rough cost of gas, electricity and water.
- Take readings of the relevant meters as soon as you can, once the last tenants have left.
- Where you are responsible for bills, change the bills to your name with the relevant suppliers from the time you move in, and decide whether joint names will be put on the bills or if the responsibility will be divided. It makes sense to put the names of all residents on the bills to ensure shared responsibility.
- Don't think of doing without it; the number of burglaries and thefts in student houses is rising! Your landlord’s insurance will not cover your personal possessions.
- Shop around to find the right insurance package for your requirements.
- Make sure that you're covered over the holidays.
- Properties where all the occupants are full-time students will be exempt. You may be asked to produce a certificate giving evidence of your student status; this certificate will be obtainable from your faculty office after you have registered on your course.
- If one or more of the occupants of your house is not a student the house becomes taxable so you must clarify whether you are expected to pay anything towards the cost.
- If you are unsure about your status with regard to Council Tax then seek advice from your Student Accommodation Department.
Click here for more information.
Call: 0300 790 6113 for more information.
Rent Smart Wales
Since the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, landlords and agents have a duty to comply with the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and have been required to be registered with the Welsh licensing authority, Rent Smart Wales (RSW).
- Landlords are required to register both themselves and any rental property they own. Those responsible for letting and/or management activities (self-managing landlords) will need to apply for a licence.
- Agents are required to apply for a licence, allowing them to conduct letting and/or management activities on behalf of others. Agents are not required to register.
The goal was to improve property standards, management practices and relationships between landlords, agents and contract holders. The hope was to ultimately lead to more confidence in the private rented sector and better experiences for all those with a stake in it. This is being achieved by providing landlords and agents with regular information and training in a range of formats, acting on intelligence from tenants and advice agencies, referring matters to other relevant bodies and taking enforcement action where needed.
From 1 December 2022, the Renting Home (Wales) Act 2016 has applied to all private rented properties in Wales. In particular, changing -
- property standards;
- grounds for possession and notice periods;
- prescribed information for occupants;
- how agreements are ended by occupants;
As part of these changes, private landlords in Wales can no longer use tenancy agreements when they let their properties. Instead, they must use Standard Occupation Contracts when starting an agreement. The two types of contracts that can be used are either fixed or periodic contracts. One of the main changes are that tenants are now known as contract holders and tenancies are known as occupation contracts. Many of the terms within the contracts are required by law and landlords must provide an accurate written statement of the occupation contract (including any required clauses) or face penalties. Landlords are required to provide explanatory notes to help the tenant understand the meaning of the agreement. This includes guidance on the different types of clause in the agreement.
The key matters are -
- the address of the dwelling,
- the occupation date,
- the amount of rent
- the rental period whether it is a fixed or periodic contract
This may also includes details of the deposit amount, who is responsible for utilities, landlord and contract holder contact details, and the Rent Smart Wales information.
Fundamental terms are clauses in the contract that have been set out by legislation. Many of them cannot be altered at all, while others can be altered but only to give greater rights to the contract holders. These terms are the most important clauses in the contract and include things like the landlord's obligations around property standards, when rent can be reviewed and the rights to end the tenancy.
Supplementary terms are clauses that have been set out by legislation as well. However, these clauses can be removed or edited to favour the landlord should both parties agree to it. Supplementary clauses that have been added to are marked out by italics, removed clauses are struck through, and the contract holder agrees to them by signing the document.
These are clauses that are not defined by legislation and have been inserted by the landlord. A number of additional clauses can be inserted in the contract such as a clause requiring the contract holder ask permission if they want to keep a pet in the property. Additional clauses must be fair and they must not contradict the fundamental or supplementary terms in the contract
We would always recommend viewing a property in person, rather than relying on the information on the web. You will need to check that the landlord and the property are bona fide. We would never recommend transferring any monies to anyone before doing so in person. For your own personal safety, it is always advisable for you to view a property accompanied and try to arrange the appointment at a reasonable hour. However, there are advantages to viewing it after dark so that you can get an idea of how you will feel when walking home at night. It is important that you contact your University Accommodation Department if you feel that you were in any way subjected to sexism or harassment during the appointment.
Here are a few pointers in checking the security of the property:
- Is the property in a 'good' area?
- Is the property set back from the road? Is the street lighting sufficient?
- Are the front and rear doors solid?
- Have the doors got five lever mortice locks?
- Is there a chain on the door? If not, can the agent/landlord fit one?
- Are the curtains of your room see-through? Insist on thicker ones if they are.
Under the Renting Home (Wales) Act since 2019, your landlord/agent are now restricted in the fees that they charge.
It is illegal for any charges to be made other than:
- A holding deposit (before the tenancy)
- A traditional deposit (see below) which cannot be for more than five weeks worth of rent, and
- Rent – note that the landlord cannot charge a higher rent in any month (eg in lieu of an administration fee)
- Utilities and Council Tax
- A TV licence and communication services (eg broadband and satellite TV)
- For the actual cost of lost keys
- Interest at 3% above bank base rate for unpaid rent after 14 days
- A fee of £50 (or sometimes the landlords actual expenses) if the landlord varies the tenancy agreement at your request
- Payments if the tenancy is ended early by agreement – which must not be more than the total rent due under the tenancy agreement
Landlords may be able to make other charges with agreement of the tenant – for example if your elect to pay for an alternative deposit scheme rather than pay a traditional deposit.
It's worth mentioning here that criminals are always with us and there are many scams aimed at students.
Be very careful about paying money out in respect of properties you have not seen.
If possible it is best to rent from landlords approved by your student accommodation office.
Tenancy Deposit Law
Some landlords/agents may ask for a holding deposit which by law can only be for up to 1 weeks worth of rent. This is to provide security to the landlord/agent while they take the property off the market while doing checks. However, there are strict rules on holding deposits and, unless you are responsible for the tenancy not proceedings (e.g. if you give incorrect information and fail referencing or decide not to proceed) the money must be returned to you or (if you agree to this) offset against your rent.
The landlord/agent can only hold the money for 15 days unless this time is extended by agreement with you. At the end of this period the landlord/agent must either return the money to you or tell you why it is being withheld.
You will normally be required to pay a tenancy deposit to the agent/landlord as security in case you damage the property or furnishings. It can also be used to cover unpaid bills, rent or missing items. Most agents/landlords will ask for a sum equivalent to four weeks' or a calendar month's rent but the maximum an agent/landlord can charge by law is a sixth of the annual rent payable in five weeks’ worth of rent in England and Wales.
In order to ensure that you get your deposit back:
- Ensure that you have a written statement from the landlord explaining what is covered by the deposit (this will normally be covered by a clause in the tenancy agreement).
- If the landlord gives a verbal explanation, write to him/her to confirm the details.
- Ensure that you have a receipt for monies paid.
- Ensure that you have a full inventory of furniture.
- Get the agent/landlord to sign it.
- You may wish to take photographs.
- Take reasonable care of the house and furniture during the tenancy.
- Towards the end of your tenancy write to the agent/landlord inviting him/her to inspect the property.
- Settle all the bills.
- When you leave return all the keys to the agent/landlord and make a written request for the return of your deposit. Keep a copy of the letter.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Deposits paid by tenants who have assured shorthold tenancy agreements, are safeguarded by a Government sponsored scheme, which will facilitate the resolution of any disputes that arise in connection with such deposits.
There are two types of scheme:
- Custodial Scheme a tenant pays the deposit to the landlord who in turn places it into a designated scheme account.
When the scheme administrator returns the deposit to either the tenant or the landlord it is done so with interest at a rate specified by the Government.
If they are not in agreement, a final court order will have to be obtained specifying the proportion of the deposit to which each is entitled.
- Insurance based schemes a tenant pays the deposit to the landlord who only transfers it into a designated scheme if there is a dispute at the end of the agreement.
When the landlord and tenant reach agreement or a court decides how much each party is entitled the administrator will distribute the deposit accordingly.
If an agent/landlord fails to pay the deposit to the scheme then a scheme will have adequate insurance cover to compensate the tenant in the event they are owed monies.
Within 30 days of receiving your deposit your agent/landlord must give you the relevant information regarding the scheme safeguarding your deposit.
You should always check that the scheme has received your deposit.
Alternative Deposit Schemes
Some landlords and agents are now using these.
They involve a much smaller payment by the tenant, or sometimes a regular monthly payment, by the scheme who will then pay up to a certain sum to the landlord if you leave owing rent or having damaged the property or its contents.
You need to be very careful about these schemes.
They are all different – some may be very good, others less so.
Here are a few things to note:
- Your landlord/ agent MUST allow you to pay a traditional deposit if you prefer.
They cannot insist on the alternative deposit scheme
- What you are paying is not a deposit but a non-refundable fee.
You will never get it back.
Unlike a traditional deposit where you will get all the deposit back if you leave the property in good condition.
- If your landlord claims on the scheme, the scheme may then pursue you for the money they have to pay out to the landlord/agent.
This could be a considerable sum as these schemes sometimes guarantee the landlord more than the tenancy deposit limit of five weeks rent
If you disagree with the sum claimed by the landlord/agent there may be a fee to pay if the dispute goes to adjudication.
For some schemes there could be other fees.
You should be very careful about signing up to one of these schemes.
Read all the paperwork carefully and if you are worried, speak to your Student Accommodation Department.
These are paid to the agent/landlord by prospective tenants.
The retainer period forms part of the contract (typically July to August) when the student is unlikely to want to occupy and the agent/landlord may wish to carry out certain maintenance works to the property.
The normal retainer payment is 50% of the per calendar month rent.
Points to Note: England and Wales only
You usually have to pay a deposit if you want to rent somewhere, but as you probably know, it’s not always easy to get it back when you leave.
If there is a dispute about deductions from the deposit at the end of the tenancy then there is a free adjudication service you can use which is provided by all the tenancy deposit schemes. You can find out about these by visiting the scheme websites. In a few situations it may be necessary to go to court but this is rare. Speak to your Student Advice Centre if you experience problems.
However, your agent/landlord has to use a tenancy deposit protection scheme if they want to take a deposit from you.
This means that:
- you will get your deposit back if you're entitled to it.
- there will be a way of settling any disagreement about your deposit without going to court.
What if my agent/landlord does not protect my deposit?
If your agent/landlord doesn’t protect your deposit (assuming this is a traditional deposit), or refuses to tell you which scheme they are using, you can take them to court.
The court may either order your agent/landlord to pay you back the deposit or to pay it into one of the schemes available.
It may also order your agent/landlord to pay you between 1 to 3 times the amount of the deposit as a fine.
Note that you can check to see if your deposit has been protected by looking at all the scheme websites – which are:
The scheme websites also have a lot of helpful information for tenants so are worth checking out.
If you’d like to find out more about the Tenancy Deposit Law, visit:
Tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ Privately Rented Accommodation
The Immigration Act 2014 introduced a requirement for landlords of private rental accommodation to conduct simple checks to establish that new tenants have the right to rent in the UK.
Landlords who rent to illegal migrants without conducting these checks will be liable for a civil penalty.
The checks are straightforward and quick for law-abiding landlords and tenants to comply with.
- The checks apply to all adults over the age of 18 living at the property. That is even if:
- they’re not named on the tenancy agreement
- there’s no tenancy agreement
- the tenancy agreement is not in writing
- Checks are mandatory, there are resources provided such as draft Codes of Practice, guidance and online resources, including an aid to help landlords and tenants identify whether they are affected and, if so, how to conduct a check.
- To access these resources Visit: https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents
- Checks apply to adults which use the property as their own home and you will need to provide original documentation which proves you can live in the UK, such as a passport or work visas.
- Landlords have to carry out these checks as if they do not this could result in an unlimited fine or being sent to prison.
- It is important to check the latest timescales and requirements directly.
- Guidance and an online tool is available on www.gov.uk.
A helpline (0300 069 9799) is also available.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives home owners, tenants and buyers information on the energy efficiency of their property.
It gives the building a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from ‘A’ to ‘E’, where ‘A’ is the most efficient and with the average to date being D.
In addition to the rating for your building’s current energy performance, part of the EPC report will list the potential rating that the building could achieve (using the same ‘A’ to ‘E’ scale), if the recommendations that are provided within the report were to be made.
It is not mandatory for anyone to act on the report’s recommendations.
However, doing so may cut your energy bills and reduce your carbon emissions.
Who needs an EPC?
As a tenant moving into a property, it is the legal requirement of the existing owner to provide you with a full Energy Performance Certificate, free of charge.
This law came into effect after 1st October 2008.
Agents/Landlords and owners are only required to produce an EPC for a property that is self-contained and the certificate is then valid for 10 years.
However, an EPC isn’t required when a tenant rents a room from a resident landlord and shares facilities.
A group of friends rent a property and there is a single contract between the agent/landlord and the group as the contract is for the rental of a whole dwelling.
An EPC is required for the whole dwelling.
As of April 2020 it is unlawful to let any residential property that doesn’t meet an E.
For further information, please visit the Government EPC website here.
It is not uncommon for tenants not to receive a copy of inventory from their landlords when first moving into their new house.
An inventory can be extremely useful evidence of the condition of the property when you first move in. It provides a full inspection of the property’s contents and their condition.
If you aren’t supplied with an inventory by your landlord or letting agent, don't hesitate to ask for one.
If you still don’t receive one, provide them with your own.
You do this by making a list of the contents room by room and then take photos or use video evidence to record the property contents and condition as back up.
The Agent/Landlord and tenant(s) should both sign the inventory and initial every page to indicate that you agree to the condition of the property contents and condition.
If at all possible, the final inventory check should be done on move out day and checked against the original inventory.
This should ensure that there aren't any disputes about the extent of any damage, should there be some, as the landlord may need to take monies out of the deposit to pay for these.
Note that landlords will often use specialist inventory companies to do this work.
When compiling an inventory, it is essential that you:
- Describe the condition of every item within the property.
- Back it up with photographic/video evidence.
- Make sure that any photographs you take are clear and include something to show the scale an out of focus photo of a scratch could be anywhere.
- Get all parties to sign and date them on the back to prove when they were taken.
- Take a note of the gas and electric meter readings.
- Get the agent/landlord to agree to and sign the inventory.
- Keep a safe copy of the signed inventory to check against when moving out.
Home of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing
It is important to note that you should check in your property’s local authority if it is a home of multiple occupation (HMO). It could be subject to mandatory licensing (in effect across Wales) or additional licensing (in certain council areas) requirements.
The below link takes you to Ceredigion County Council relevant website page.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - Ceredigion County Council
Most landlords and agents will ask you to sign a tenancy agreement.
This is a legally binding document setting out each party’s rights and responsibilities. By signing it, both you and the landlord have certain rights protected in law, which cannot be overwritten by the contract. Before you sign make sure that you understand all clauses, so there can be no nasty surprises after you've signed.
We would always recommend seeking advice regarding your contract before you sign it. If your landlord will not allow you to take a copy of the contract away to be checked, you should not sign it.
Your legal obligations and rights are different if you live in University accommodation or share a property with your landlord. Please contact your local Student Accommodation Department for further information on this issue.
If asked to sign an agreement, it is likely to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and will normally last for at least six months, after which the tenancy can run on a monthly basis. However, many tenancies run for a fixed term, i.e. July 1st 2020 to June 30th 2021. In this case make sure that you are happy with the length of the contract as it is very unlikely that you will be able to end the tenancy early.
The tenancy agreement should also state the following:
- How much the rent is and when and how it should be paid (check that the rent adds up and that there are no extra charges).
- Information on when and how the rent could be reviewed in the future
- How much deposit is and how it will be protected (note that by law now deposits cannot be for more than five weeks worth of rent)
- The circumstances in which the deposit may be withheld either in full or in part, e.g. to carry out repairs works due to damage the tenants have caused
- If you are paying for an alternative scheme rather than a traditional deposit this should be set out in the agreement. Make sure you check the provisions of the alternative scheme carefully. Note that your landlord must offer you the choice of a traditional deposit.
- The landlord's and tenants’ names and address of the property being let.
- The date the tenancy began and its duration.
- Who is responsible for the fuel bills, water rates and council tax.
- Details of whether other people are allowed the use of all or part of the property, and if so, which part.
- Whether the landlord will provide any services (i.e. laundry, cleaning), and whether there are service charges for these.
- The length of notice which the landlord or the tenant need to give, if the tenancy is to be ended. (There are statutory rules regarding this dependent on the type of tenancy and usually you cannot give notice to end a tenancy early).
- The landlord's and tenant's repair obligations. (Again there are statutory rules regarding this).
- The landlord's right of access, which should be at a reasonable time and after 24 hours’ notice.
The terms of the agreement must be in plain, intelligible language and fair. For example, any clause allowing the tenancy agreement to be ended early (known as a break clause) must apply to both landlord and tenant a clause just allowing the landlord to end early will be invalid, and tenants should not be subject to unreasonable rent increases. Note that most fees and penalty clauses will now be illegal under the Tenant Fees legislation.
Tenancies will be either ‘joint’ or ‘individual’. If you sign a joint tenancy, i.e. all the names on one contract, you are jointly and severally responsible for the payment of rent and the ‘well-being’ of the property. For example, if your housemate doesn’t pay their rent, the landlord is legally entitled to demand it from the other tenants. Individual tenants still have joint responsibility for damage to communal areas.
Read the small print of a tenancy agreement. Most student accommodation contracts are for a fixed period of time. It is unlikely that there will be a ‘get out’ clause in your tenancy agreement, so you need to be 100% sure it is the place you want to live in and the people you want to live with. A landlord or agent may consider releasing you if you have a suitable replacement tenant to take over your room. In the past some considerate landlords and agents have released tenants if they have been kicked off their courses or have left University for health or financial reasons – but they don’t have to if they don’t want to. If a landlord or agent won’t release you, you will usually be responsible for the rent for the rest of the tenancy period.
Most things that you agree to in a tenancy agreement you will have to stick to. For example, if you agree not to use blue tack on the walls, you cannot use blue tack on the walls (and if you do, you will probably have to pay for the walls to be re-decorated when you leave).
Here are certain legal obligations that apply to student housing regardless of most tenancy agreements. For example:
- The property must be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the time it is let and throughout the tenancy. This means that it must meet basic standards for example as regards, repair, with no risk of harm to the health or safety of the occupiers.
- The landlord must carry out some basic repairs, and is responsible for the structure and exterior of the property.
- The landlord must keep the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation and heating in good working order.
- The tenant has a right to live peaceably in the accommodation without interference from the landlord.
- The tenant should take proper care of and not damage the accommodation.
- The tenant should be supplied with the name and address of the landlord, and the address to which notices should be sent (for example, notices requiring repairs to be carried out).
- For an assured short-hold tenancy created on or after 28th February 1997, the landlord must provide basic written terms of the agreement within 28 days of the tenant requesting this in writing.
- The landlord should give 24 hours written notice to enter the property. For example, to undertake repairs or view the property with prospective tenants.
For further information on tenants rights see the excellent guidance on the Shelter site at https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice
Housing/Student Guide Disclaimer
This Guide is intended to provide friendly and helpful advice. Studentpad has tried to ensure that the advice give in this Guide is useful and as reliable as possible.
Whilst every effort has been made to offer up to date and accurate information, errors can occur. This Guide may contain references to certain laws and regulations. Laws and regulations will change over time and should be interpreted only in light of particular circumstances.
This Guide is not designed to provide professional or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstances and where appropriate seek professional advice.