Renting Smart: Your responsibility as a tenant
This week on Amy’s Guide on Renting Smart, I would like to turn the tables around this time, focusing on you, your role as a tenant, your responsibilities and your capability to turn things around. Over the past few weeks, I have mentioned about the role of landowners, channels in which you could go through to rectify any problems that may arise during your tenancy period and experiences of people that have rented in the past.
I hope some of you have had the chance to visit representatives from Escape Campus during the housing fair that was held at the University of Cumbria and at Lancaster University last week and perhaps even gained a few tips on #RentingSmart.
So, as a student, we can sometimes feel like everything isn’t going as planned, there may be hiccups in your journey such as with the people you rent with, i.e. you not liking them or them not sharing the same value as you do. However, whatever the issue may be, there are basic responsibilities for you to be aware of as a tenant. It’s sometimes unfortunate that some of us do end up renting with less than ideal company, maybe even fall out with friends whilst living together. But, it’s important to know that it’s not the landlord’s role to rectify this problem, but if this is a problem, then there are channels for you to go through to escalate this problem.
The university that you’re in has tremendous support, be it if you’re academically challenged due to unfortunate circumstances or if you’re going through a rough patch and need someone to talk to about it. There is never a shortage of help at any institution that you’re attending. It’s easy to feel neglected and unheard, but the Students’ Union, your college, your department and student services can and will do something to help you with your problems.
Now, as a tenant, your responsibility is to read the contract that you’re about to sign, rectify points in the contract that you would like for it to be amended, survey the house, and point out anything that you would like fixed or modified and get it included in the contract as well. As a landlord, he/she would have to make the amendments in written form if they choose to verbally accept to make the changes that they have promised to make.
When moving in, it is important as a tenant to have an inventory of everything in the house, which should detail the condition of everything and any faults or issues. Next, you would have to report all faults to the landlord. A lot of student rental houses are classified as House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), which means that landlord is required to have a licence from Lancaster City Council, but regardless of that they will still need to follow the rules as with any other tenancy requirement would cover.
This also means that if you’re living in a house where all occupants are students, you are exempt from paying council tax and there are a few procedures that you would have to consider if you are renting as a student. Normally, this would have already been covered by the letting agency or the landlord that you’re renting from. This is important as this relates to your rubbish and recycling collection. It’s important to consider that as you will be living in a house, you would have to make sure that you’re aware of the rubbish collection dates and to arrange rotations with your housemates as to who takes the rubbish in and out every week. It’s well worth doing the same kind of thing for cleaning, washing up and other household chores; if everyone is always doing a bit then it never gets too bad and nobody feels like it’s just left to them all the time.
As a tenant, you are also required to comply with the same rules that you would at home, to be mindful of neighbours, to adhere by the safety guidelines and to vigilant of any issues that may arise due to the actions of your guests as well. As a tenant, you are liable for your guests and any havoc that they may cause, will be directly implicated on yourself. It’s sometimes easy to get carried away as a student, you get your friends over and you throw a party, you’re having a lot of fun, then you may have some people in your group of friends that may have gotten a little carried away and this could extend to the early hours of the morning and this could irritate neighbours, especially if you’re living in a predominantly residential area. This could potentially get the authorities involved, and basically, whatever you may do that may get you into trouble whilst staying on campus, still applies off campus as well. Sure, you don’t have as strict of a protocol, but it’s important to be mindful of others as well.
Other than that, in terms of eviction, your landlord would have to have strong grounds to want to or try to evict you. If you haven’t breached any of the terms of your contract, such as:
then there would be no cause for your landlord to want to or try to evict you and if you do feel that this is something that is happening to you, then always keep in mind that you would be able to contact the citizens’ advice bureau about it. Also, in terms of rental, make sure you have either a digital record of sending the rent by bank transfer or a receipt to prove that you’ve paid it. Don’t forget through, the landlord/agent will want to work with you to ensure you are enjoying living in your house, so just talk to them about any issues you’re having and give them the chance to sort things out.
Also, it can be tempting to decorate your walls, but if you’re going to do that, make sure that you speak to you landlord or agent because you’ll have to leave your house in the condition that you received it, otherwise it could affect your deposit. If ever in doubt, just refer to the pictures that you take when you first moved in. I hope these tips has helped you gauge a few things as to your rights and responsibility as a tenant. See you soon!