Children they cause you all manner of worries and upsets don’t they, but it is no easier when they grow up and leave home. At least when our oldest moved out we knew he was going into Halls of Residence at University which offered us some security in knowing that he was okay (there’s a warden lives in the blocks for a start!). But now he is going into his second year he has to find a property to rent. For us our son really impressed us when he told us that his second year accommodation was sorted but if he had needed some help here are the things we would have made him aware of. Plus there’s some things that I needed to find out for myself which affected us as guarantor. It made sense to write this Parents’ Guide to Student Renting so it was easier for us when the next son goes off to university.
Tenancy Type and Being a Guarantor for a Student Renting
It is a difficult situation as a parent to be in because you need to let your children find their own feet and make their own mistakes but often with student renting a guarantor is required to cover things like none payment of rent and any damage to the property. Now whether that guarantor (parent) is liable for just the rent/damage caused by their offspring or everyone who is sharing will depend on the type of tenancy. If each student has their own tenancy (because they each have possession of a room and share the other facilities) then this is a sole tenancy. The guarantor will be pleased to know that they are then only responsible for that person’s rent/damages. This will, however, mean that each of the students will be responsible for ensuring that they all have their own TV licence if they have a TV in their room. If there is only one tenancy agreement with all the students on it, sharing the whole property then this is a joint tenancy and everyone is responsible for all the rent/damage. Even if someone has paid their share they will still have to make up the shortfall if someone else does not pay. If not students can have the money taken from their deposit, evicted or taken from their guarantor. There is also the option that one student lets the property and then sub-lets the rooms – this would be like sole tenancy I guess with that student. How long the tenancy lasts is something to consider, is it for 6 months, 12 months or until the end of the summer term? This is important if they have a joint tenancy because if it is a periodic tenancy (or last for 6 months and then runs on a month by month basis) then if one joint tenancy gives notice to quit then this ends the tenancy agreement for all tenants. It can even be done without their knowledge and consent!
Costs involved with Student Renting
If a letting agent is used then they are not allowed to charge for registering with them or providing a list of properties; they can however charge a referencing fee. This would cover costs of drawing up the contract, doing an inventory, credit checks, references, and admin costs. If an inventory is not provided, then tenants should take digital photographs and send them by recorded delivery to the landlord or agency on the first day of their tenancy. It may cost more money but as Letting agents are not regulated (qualifications and licence is not required) then it is best to use one signed up to the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) or a self-regulating body like Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA). It is likely that a deposit and rent in advanced will be asked for up front. If there are any problems then an excess sum payable under the landlord insurance policy may be requested under terms of breaching the agreement. Plus their own contents insurance for any of their own possessions.
Of course you will need to consider the cost of the rent (this will vary depending on whether it is furnished accommodation and if utility bills are included – note full-time students are exempt from paying council tax but the council will need to be informed of this situation). If it is not furnished then there will be the added cost of furniture. If utilities are not included then water & sewage, electric/gas, television licence, phone, etc will need to be paid – again whoever has their name on these bills will be held responsible for paying them, even if they have paid their share.
Other things to consider with Student Renting
Other things to consider with student renting is the location and type of accommodation (may be not such a big deal to the parents but this could impact on the likelihood that it is burgled and to consider what security is in place). Finally how good the letting agent/landlord is – is there a gas safety certificate, do the Furniture and Furnishings pass the match test and electrical equipment for safety. Finally does the property meet the standards of a multiple occupancy mandatory licence – with minimum standards in terms of the number of bathrooms, toilets, wash basins, showers, cooking and laundry facilities?
If only we were rich enough to just buy him somewhere to live! Which is another option that some people take, and share it out with their friends to help pay the mortgage.