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Student housing advice

Finding the perfect student accommodation doesn’t have to be a chore. But it’s important to remember that there is more to consider than just the size of your bedroom and how close you’ll be to the nearest pub! Our Student Housing Guide will help you avoid all the common mistakes thousands of students make each year when moving into their new student house.

Visit our dedicated website for more valuable housing advice you can’t afford to be without when choosing your future accommodation - Student Housing Guide.

  1. Accommodation Checklist
  2. Home Safety Issues
  3. Household Costs
  4. Contracts
  5. Your Rights
  6. Safety and Security Advice
  7. Financial Matters and Deposits
  8. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  9. Inventory
  10. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)


1) Accommodation Checklist

The Exterior

  • The roof looks sound, there aren't any tiles missing.
  • The drains, gutters and external pipes are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order i.e. they aren't broken, leaking or full of grass.
  • The house must be wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation, window frames aren't rotten.
  • The windows aren't broken, cracked or draughty.

The Interior

  • 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.
  • any furnishings provided by the landlord under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.

Gas & Electricity

  • The installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • Any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order. 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.

Plumbing

  • There is hot water.
  • The taps all work properly.
  • The bath and basins aren't cracked and the toilet flushes properly.

Security

  • The external doors are solid and comply with Building Standards see (https://www.gov.scot/publications/building-standards-2017-domestic/4-safety/413-security/). It is recommended that the external doors are fitted with five-bar mortice locks, as 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, if there is not lock then this should be requested in writing immediately.
  • The windows all have locks. Every domestic building must be designed and constructed in such a way that doors and windows, vulnerable to unlawful entry, can be secured to deter housebreaking and protect the safety and welfare of occupants.
  • Vulnerable windows should be constructed to resist attempts to force frames and, if openable, ironmongery. Windows which can be opened should be fitted with either:
  • a keyed locking system that uses a removable key, or
  • a keyless locking system, together with glazing which incorporates laminated glass or a similarly robust glazing material
  • 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? there are smoke alarms in proper working order (house has satisfactory provision for detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire – see Fire section below for further information on the requirements.
  • There is a carbon monoxide detector in proper working order (house has satisfactory provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health)

Print out Check List:
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Top 2) Home Safety Issues

Gas Safety

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. Only a Gas Safe registered engineer should fit, fix or service gas appliances. Visit https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/ for more information. Landlords have responsibilities for gas safety. By law your landlord must keep all gas appliances supplied for you to use in good condition. They must arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out a gas safety check on them every 12 months and provide you with a copy of the landlord’s gas safety record.

Always:

  • Ask for a copy of the landlord’s current gas safety record before you move in. By law, landlords have to give a hard copy to the tenant on or before the move in date.
  • Cooperate with your landlord and let a registered engineer in when a gas safety check or servicing has to be done.
  • Check the ID card of any gas engineer that comes to do work in your home. The engineer must be Gas Safe registered.
  • If you own any of the gas appliances in your home, you should have a Gas Safe Register gas installer check them once a year.
  • Do not use any gas appliances that you know or suspect to be unsafe. Turn off the gas supply if you suspect there is a leak, and report any issues immediately.

Monoxide Awareness
Does the property have a carbon monoxide alarm? If not, ask the landlord to install one in every room which has a gas appliance.

By law, private rented landlords must provide suitable provision for warning if carbon monoxide reaches a level that is dangerous to human health.

If you have gas appliances in your house, Carbon Monoxide is a possible danger.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which can kill quickly with no warning. Know the six main signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness. Don’t mistake the symptoms for a hangover.

It's invisible and odourless, but it can kill.

Watch out for...

  • Gas flames that burn orange or yellow rather than blue.
  • Sooty stains on or around your appliances.
  • Solid fuels that burn slowly or go out.

Know the symptoms...

  • Unexplained drowsiness.
  • Giddiness when standing up.
  • Headaches.
  • Sickness and Diarrhoea.
  • Chest pains.
  • Unexplained stomach pains.

If you think a gas appliance is faulty turn it off and let your landlord know immediately. In an emergency call the gas emergency helpline on 0800 111 999. If you feel unwell, seek medical help immediately.

gas_safe Click on the Gas Safe logo link for more info!
The Health & Safety Executive has a Gas Safety Advice line on
0800 408 5500
In the event of an emergency call
0800 111 999

Electricity

Private landlords in Scotland are responsible for ensuring that their properties are electrically safe. This covers electrical fixtures and fittings, installations for the supply of electricity, and any appliances provided under the tenancy. Landlords must also ensure that regular electrical safety inspections are carried out by a competent person, and that anything that does not pass inspection is immediately repaired or replaced.

Inspections must be carried out before a tenancy starts and, during a tenancy no more than five years from the previous inspection. If you live in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) then all electrical equipment must be tested every three years. A copy of the most recent safety report must be provided to new and continuing tenants.

It is also the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the person carrying out the electrical safety inspection is competent to do so. In Scotland, this will usually mean that they are registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), a member firm of the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland (SELECT), or a member of the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT).

Following an inspection the electrician will prepare an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) on the safety of the electrical installations, fixtures and fittings. If there are any problems these will be marked with different classification codes: Code C1 (‘danger present’); C2 (‘potentially dangerous’); and FI (‘further investigation required’). You should follow up with your landlord to ensure that any issues are addressed.

Fire Safety Furniture and Furnishings

The relevant regulations are the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. "The regulations provide for all furniture manufactured after 1 January 1950 to be fire retardant and carry the proper labels". This means that furniture and furnishings supplied in let accommodation must comply with the fire and safety requirements in the Regulations. All residential premises including flats, bedsits and houses where furniture is supplied as part of the let are covered by these regulations.

The type of furniture covered by the regulations, classed as ‘Furniture’ are:

  • furniture of any description which is ordinarily intended for private use in a dwelling and includes beds and divans (including the bases and headboards of both), sofa-beds, children's furniture, cots (including carry-cots, playpens, prams and pushchairs and any other article of a like nature and use designed to contain a baby or small child), cushions, high-chairs, mattresses (of any size) and pillows, but does not include bedding or floor coverings (including carpets and mats);
  • (b) furniture which is ordinarily intended for private use in the open air but which is also suitable for use in a dwelling;
  • and (c) any collection of components designed or intended to be assembled into any article of furniture defined in subparagraphs (a) and (b) above.

All furniture, manufactured after 1 January 1950, and supplied in a let property must have a label attached which is clearly visible and gives information on manufacture and materials. If the original label has fallen off the landlord should have it re-tested.

Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

From February 2012, every homeowner in Scotland (including landlords) will be required to install one smoke alarm in the room most frequently used for daytime living purposes (e.g. your living room/lounge), one smoke alarm in every circulation space (e.g. hallways and landings) of each storey, and one heat alarm in every kitchen. These should all be ceiling mounted and interlinked.
There must also be a carbon monoxide detector in every room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (e.g. boilers, heaters, stoves, fires) or a flue.

If your property is an HMO (see HMO section below) your landlord will also have to comply with standards set by the Local Authority which will include the provision of fire extinguishers and blankets. If they are not provided you should ask for them. Also contact your local fire brigade for free advice on making a fire action plan and further information on fire safety.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that alarms are in good working order on the first day of the tenancy, and to ensure that they are regularly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Your landlord may advise you to test the alarms on a weekly basis, and you should make sure that the batteries are changed when they run out.

Visit the sites below to find out more about fire safety standards:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-safety-guidance-private-rented-properties/
https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-and-smoke-alarms-in-scottish-homes/ (Changes to the law which come in to force in February 2021)
https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/advice-and-guidance/2016/12/fire-safety-guidance-private-rented-properties/documents/housing-guidance-satisfactory-provision-detecting-warning-fires-scottish-government-revised-november-2016-pdf/housing-guidance-satisfactory-provision-detecting-warning-fires-scottish-government-revised-november-2016-pdf/govscot%3Adocument/Detecting%20and%20warning%20of%20fires%20-%20Scottish%20Government%20revised%20Feb%202019.pdf


Fire Safety

You should have access to escape from the property in case of fire, so check that this is the case.

Top 3) Household Costs

Bills

  • Clarify what is included in your rent. 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 and electricity.
  • 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.

Insurance

  • 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.

Council Tax

  • 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 see https://www.gov.scot/policies/local-government/council-tax/
  • If you are unsure about your status with regard to Council Tax then seek advice from your Student Accommodation Department.

TV Licence

Click here for more information.
Call: 0300 790 6113 for more information.

Top 4) Contracts

Contract

The protection you have largely depends on your status as an occupier. However, a Private Residential Tenancy is the most common for any tenancy created on or after 01 December 2017 , replacing the assured and short assured tenancy agreements as the most common type of tenancy in Scotland for all new tenancies created from this date.. Prior to 01 December 2017 the most common type of tenancy was the Assured or Short Assured Tenancy, and those types of tenancy may continue until terminated if the tenancy was created prior to 01 December 2017. You can find a model Private Residential Tenancy here (https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-model-private-residential-tenancy-agreement/).
Private residential tenancies are open-ended and have no set length such as 6 or 12 months. This means your landlord cannot ask you to leave just because you have been in the property for 6 months as they could with a short assured tenancy. Further information in relation to Private Residential Tenancies in Scotland is available here (https://www.gov.scot/policies/private-renting/private-tenancy-reform/)

Homestay or Lodgings

Please note that if you are staying in lodgings, Homestay or with the owner of the property then you will not be a "Tenant" and should therefore not be required to sign a tenancy agreement. They may issue a room licence, flat-share agreement, or other form of contract. Read this carefully and be aware of what kind of contract you have.

Joint Tenancy

If you are sharing a house then you may be asked to sign a joint tenancy agreement or a separate tenancy agreement.
It is a joint tenancy if you have all signed the same agreement. It is a single tenancy if you have each signed separate tenancy agreements (i.e., just for your own room with shared use of the rent of the property).
If you sign a joint tenancy then you will all be responsible for each other's debts and damages. If one of the tenants moves out without giving the notice or paying rent then the remaining tenants are liable to pay that tenant’s share. If you have a separate agreement for your own room then if there are any discrepancies, the argument is between yourself and your landlord and will not normally involve your housemates (unless perhaps it relates to the common parts of the property).

Points to Note

  • You should be very careful about signing a joint contract with others as if they fail to pay their share of the rent the landlord can claim it from you. You are effectively all guaranteeing each other’s rent. So only rent a property jointly with people you can trust.
  • Rents must be agreed before the contract is signed since this is a binding agreement. Remember you can negotiate with the agent/landlord over rents and opt out clauses. If you agree any changes make sure the tenancy agreement is amended accordingly before you sign it.
  • Always try to get your contract checked; the Students Union Advice Centre/Accommodation Office or Citizen's Advice will be able to check your contract.
  • Landlords must comply with the law when attempting to end your tenancy. There are strict rules about the forms and procedures which must be used. A Landlord cannot simply evict a tenant without a Court Order and this will only be granted on certain grounds. Your landlord must specify the grounds on which they are seeking to evict you in a ‘Notice to Leave,’ and specify the date that you must leave the property by. You can find guidance on Notices to Leave here (https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/form/2017/11/private-residential-tenancy-prescribed-notices-forms/documents/notice-to-leave/fc5eea5b-c822-4a69-b993-a6f86e7eb4f4/fc5eea5b-c822-4a69-b993-a6f86e7eb4f4/govscot%3Adocument/3009%2BCOVID-19%2B-%2BTenant%2BGuidance%2BNotice%2Bto%2BLeave.pdf)
  • Resident Landlord and homestay landlords should issue a Room Licence.
Top 5) Your Rights

Your Agent/Landlord is responsible for...

  • Ensuring that the property is wind and water tight and in all other respects ‘reasonably fit for human habitation’ when let and during 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.
  • Register with the local council for the rented property.
  • Give you a copy of the tenancy agreement and the correct information notes for your particular tenancy.
  • Register your deposit with an approved tenancy deposit scheme (either Letting Protection Service Scotland; My Deposits Scotland; or Safe Deposits Scotland – see https://www.mygov.scot/tenancy-deposits-tenants/#:~:text=There%20are%20three%20tenancy%20deposit,my%7Cdeposits%20Scotland)
  • Ensure the property meets the ‘Repairing Standard ’ as per section 13 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, for example, by keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house, including drains, gutters and external pipes.
  • Provide you with information on what the Repairing Standard is (usually contained in the information notes you should receive with your tenancy agreement). If it does not meet the Repairing Standard, then you will be able to apply to the Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for a ruling that your landlord has breached that duty.
  • Keeping in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) and for heating rooms and heating water.
  • Providing you with the agents/landlord’s full name and address.
  • Providing you with a copy of the valid current Gas Safety Certificate (see Standards).
  • Providing you with a copy of the Electrical Installation Condition Report
  • Allowing you to "peacefully enjoy" your accommodation; and giving the correct amount of notice if the landlord reasonably requires access to the let property for an authorised purpose such as repairs or to inspect the condition of the property pursuant to their repairing duties (e.g. 48 hours)(unless there is an emergency).
  • Providing you with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
  • Carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment.
  • Have a Housing in Multiple Occupation licence if the property is let out to three or more unrelated tenants.
  • If you are renting from an agent, they must be part of a letting agent redress scheme and display this on their website.
  • Always check the terms of your tenancy agreement for details on responsibility for maintenance and repairs. Although note that your landlord cannot by law exclude responsibility for keeping the property in repair and fit for human habitation, such that the terms of your tenancy may only increase minimum standards set out in statute.

You are responsible for...

  • Paying your rent on time. If you are having difficulty with your rent, speak to your Students Union Advice Centre or Citizens Advice for help
  • Acting in a "Tenant-like manner". This means you should perform the smaller tasks around the house such as changing a light bulb; unblocking the sink when clogged with waste and cleaning the windows when necessary.
  • Not damaging the property. If you do then you and your guests may be responsible for the repairs. Note that you may be held responsible for damage done by your guests. Report any damage to your landlord as soon as possible for repairs to be carried out. You should also report any faulty appliances and stop using them until they are repaired.
  • Reporting all repairs needed to the agent/landlord (preferably in writing). The landlord's/agent's responsibility to repair begins only when they are aware of the problem. If the fault is not corrected within a reasonable period of time (dependent upon the nature of the disrepair) then seek advice from the Students’ Union Advice Centre/ Accommodation Office; Citizen's Advice or a solicitor.
  • Checking smoke alarms on an ongoing basis and replacing batteries.
  • Refuse collection! Remember to find out the collection day from your local council, and put your bins and recycling out regularly.
  • Securing the property when you go away; lock all the doors and windows! If you are going away over the winter, take steps to make sure the pipes don’t freeze over (e.g. by setting your heating to come on for an hour a day while you are away).
  • Being reasonable about noise and parties; weekends are better, let your neighbours know in advance and comply with the law.
  • Get permission from your landlord before passing your tenancy on to somebody else, subletting or taking in a lodger, or doing any decorating. Check your lease for anything else that requires the landlord’s prior approval, such as getting a pet.
  • It may also be a good idea to keep a diary where you record anything relevant as it may otherwise be difficult to prove (or even remember) when and whether events took place.

Harassment and Unlawful Eviction

If your agent/landlord wants you to leave your property, then a legal process must be complied with before you can be evicted. This will include a written notice and applying to the Court for an eviction order. If you are evicted without the agent/landlord following the correct procedure, then the agent/landlord is committing a criminal offence. In addition, if the agent/landlord (or someone acting on their behalf) interferes with your peace or comfort either with unannounced visits, by not fulfilling his/her responsibilities for basic repairs (as listed above), disconnecting utility supplies and so on with a view to causing you to give up the occupation of the premises or any part thereof, then this may amount to harassment which is a criminal offence.
If you are in danger of eviction or suffering from harassment by your agent/landlord then contact the Student Union Advice Centre, Accommodation Department, your local Council's Housing Advice Team, or your Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team. You can also contact Citizen’s Advice, Shelter Scotland or a solicitor for advice and assistance .

Top 6) Safety and Security Advice

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.

Security

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.
Top 7) Financial matters & Deposits

A landlord cannot charge a fee to secure a property in advance of the tenancy beginning (e.g. to take it off the market while you finalise the tenancy agreement). This may be referred to as a holding deposit or key money. Your landlord also cannot charge you any fees or premiums in order to enter into or renew a tenancy.

Deposits

You may have to pay a deposit at the start of your tenancy to cover any possible damage to the property or unpaid bills. In Scotland, Tenancy Deposits are regulated by the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011. A deposit cannot be any more than two months’ rent.
You should review your inventory carefully when you move in and raise any concerns you have early on, as this may be referred to later if there are any disputes about how much of your deposit you will get back. For example, if the inventory says you should have three chairs but you only have two then you should raise this when you move in or your landlord may attempt to deduct the cost of a missing chair from your deposit at the end of your tenancy. You may also wish to take photographs of the condition of the property when you move in to ensure that you have evidence if your landlord attempts to charge you for repairs or cleaning at the end of your tenancy.

Tenancy deposit schemes
Your landlord must register your deposit with an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the tenancy beginning. Make sure you know which scheme is being used and that you have a record of all the details of the deposit.
If you have any problems with your deposit and ensuring it is registered by your landlord, Shelter Scotland have some helpful style letters here (https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/paying_for_a_home/deposits/tenancy_deposit_schemes) that you can send to your landlord to remind them of their responsibility to register your deposit and provide you with the required information.

Beware fraudsters

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, or any fees that you think may be unlawful ‘premiums’ at the start of your tenancy. If possible, it is best to rent from landlords or through agents approved by your student accommodation office.

Getting your deposit back

At the end of your tenancy, your landlord will apply to the tenancy deposit scheme to release all or part of your deposit back to you. This will include the details of any deductions. The tenancy deposit scheme will contact you to see if you agree with the amount to be returned and the nature of any deductions. If your landlord does not apply for your deposit to be returned to you, you can make your own application.
If you do not agree with the deductions proposed by your landlord you can apply to the dispute resolution process. You will have to show that you have attempted to come to an agreement with your landlord about the deductions, so it is best to have a written record of any negotiations on this (e.g. emails).
If you enter into the dispute resolution process, any evidence you and your landlord submit will be passed to an independent adjudicator and they will make a decision within 20 working days. If you are not happy with the outcome, you can request a review, the result of which will be final. If the tenancy dispute is more complex, then there may be an option to refer the matter to the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

Tenancy Deposits -In Summary

  • 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. 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 ensure there is evidence of safe return.

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 the Tribunal. The Tribunal may either order your agent/landlord to pay the deposit into one of the schemes available. Where the Tribunal is satisfied that the landlord has not paid the deposit into an approved scheme within 30 working days, and/or provided the tenant with information about the tenancy deposit as required by law, then:

  • The Tribunal may: order the Landlord to (i) pay the tenancy deposit to an approved scheme; or (ii) provide the tenant with the information required;
  • and the Tribunal must: order the landlord to pay the tenant an amount not exceeding three times the amount of the tenancy deposit.

Top 8) Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

What is an 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.

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 October 2020 it will be unlawful to let any residential property that doesn’t meet an E.

For further information, please visit the Government EPC website here.

Top 9) Inventory

What is an inventory?

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.
Top 10) Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

An HMO is a property shared by three or more unrelated people. For HMO purposes, people living together as a couple are related. A landlord needs to have a licence from the local council in order to rent out an HMO property. This ensures that the property is properly managed and meets certain safety standards. This is separate from your tenancy agreement, so check to see whether your house is an HMO to be clear on your rights.

Your landlord will have responsibilities to ensure that they maintain the property properly and comply with certain other health and safety requirements in order to keep their HMO licence. These include responsibilities to maintain the common parts (such as stairwells etc); maintained shared facilities (cooker, boiler, fridge, sinks, bath, lighting); heating, hot water and ventilation; gas and electrical safety; fire precautions, including provision of fire extinguishers; ensuring all furniture meets safety standards; maintaining the roof, windows and exterior; and ensuring that bins are provided.

If you feel that standards are not being met, in the first instance you should raise your concerns with your landlord. If they do not act and you are still concerned then you can contact your local council and they have the power to make your landlord bring the conditions of the HMO up to standard.

If you think that your landlord is operating an HMO without a licence, you should report them to your local council as this is a criminal offence and your landlord could face a fine of up to £50,000. Local authorities have a range of other enforcement options, including power to vary the terms of a licence or revoke it.

The council can inspect a property that they think is being run as an unlicensed HMO without giving any notice.

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