Tips for renting accommodation in the private sector

Retainer

Depending on the time of year that you find suitable accommodation, the landlord may request a retainer in order to book the room until you move in at the start of the Academic Year. For example, if you find a room in July, the landlord will want financial assurance that you will turn up to occupy the room in September. This money is usually non-refundable and can vary from around £100 to £200.

Is the property licensed?

Many houses of multiple occupancy require a license. This is to ensure that the property meets minimum legal safety standards set by the government and enforced by the local authority. As a general guide, any property with 5 or more students living in it should have a HMO License. All houses that are registered with the University must submit a copy of their HMO License and other safety documentation before they can be listed student pad

Gas and Electrical Safety Certificates

You should also check whether the property you are viewing has a Landlords Gas Safety record and NICEIC Electrical Inspection Certificate. The gas safety record should be displayed in the property and should indicate that any gas appliances (such as gas cooker and gas central heating system) are safe. The Electrical certificate is similar and should indicate the electrics in the property are safe.

Bond 

This is an amount held against any damage to the house during the tenancy. This deposit is refundable less any deductions for any damages. It is advisable to point out any existing damage and ensure that there is an accurate inventory to the landlord as soon as you move in. New Government legislation indicates that from April 2007 Bonds are held in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Rent

The rent varies considerably and prices are an average of £49 per week for a single room excluding fuel bills. The landlord would expect payment in advance, usually per term. Some landlords require a UK Guarantor (usually a parent or guardian) to countersign the contract. This means they hold joint responsibility for paying the rent if you default! 

Utility bills 

MoneyLandlords request different methods of payment e.g. equal share of quarterly bills, token meter etc. Tenants in the property may be required to pay an equal share and are equally responsible for the bills. It is best to establish a method of payment at the beginning of the contract. It is good advice to take meter readings as soon as you begin your tenancy to monitor fuel bills. This avoids any ambiguity or confusion at a later date when settling any outstanding bills. Other bills may include telephone. There is no charge for Council Tax if the property is solely occupied by students but you will need to provide your landlord with a Council tax exemption certificate which are available from academic registry after enrolment in order to ensure your exemption. 

Contracts 

It is recommended that a written contract, clearly outlining the terms and conditions of the tenancy, is exchanged. Do not sign anything without reading it very carefully and without fully understanding it as the contract is a legally binding document. In some cases where a contract has not been provided it is important to be aware that a verbal contract is still legally binding on both parties and you still have statutory rights. 

Inventory 

It is useful for both landlord and tenant to know what furnishings are at the property at the beginning of the tenancy and to agree their condition. If the landlord has not provided a list of contents, it is advisable to request that one be compiled. This should be used as a checklist at the termination of the tenancy.
Further information and advice can be found in our Housing Advice Guide (PDF download)

Landlord Accreditation Wales

As part of the University’s commitment to ensuring our students are provided with good quality, well managed accommodation, the University of South Wales requires all registered landlords to become accredited with Landlord Accreditation Wales (LAW) by September 2010. The scheme concentrates on standards of knowledge and professionalism within the sector and is a joint initiative between the Private Sector Housing/Environmental Health Services from each of the 22 Local Authorities in Wales, and is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government. 

Please visit www.welshlandlords.org.uk for further information:

Retainer

Depending on the time of year that you find suitable accommodation, the landlord may request a retainer in order to book the room until you move in at the start of the Academic Year. For example, if you find a room in July, the landlord will want financial assurance that you will turn up to occupy the room in September. This money is usually non-refundable and can vary from around £100 to £200.

Is the property licensed?

Many houses of multiple occupancy require a license. This is to ensure that the property meets minimum legal safety standards set by the government and enforced by the local authority. As a general guide, any property with 5 or more students living in it should have a HMO License. All houses that are registered with the University must submit a copy of their HMO License and other safety documentation before they can be listed student pad

Gas and Electrical Safety Certificates

You should also check whether the property you are viewing has a Landlords Gas Safety record and NICEIC Electrical Inspection Certificate. The gas safety record should be displayed in the property and should indicate that any gas appliances (such as gas cooker and gas central heating system) are safe. The Electrical certificate is similar and should indicate the electrics in the property are safe.

Bond 

This is an amount held against any damage to the house during the tenancy. This deposit is refundable less any deductions for any damages. It is advisable to point out any existing damage and ensure that there is an accurate inventory to the landlord as soon as you move in. New Government legislation indicates that from April 2007 Bonds are held in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Rent

The rent varies considerably and prices are an average of £49 per week for a single room excluding fuel bills. The landlord would expect payment in advance, usually per term. Some landlords require a UK Guarantor (usually a parent or guardian) to countersign the contract. This means they hold joint responsibility for paying the rent if you default! 

Utility bills 

MoneyLandlords request different methods of payment e.g. equal share of quarterly bills, token meter etc. Tenants in the property may be required to pay an equal share and are equally responsible for the bills. It is best to establish a method of payment at the beginning of the contract. It is good advice to take meter readings as soon as you begin your tenancy to monitor fuel bills. This avoids any ambiguity or confusion at a later date when settling any outstanding bills. Other bills may include telephone. There is no charge for Council Tax if the property is solely occupied by students but you will need to provide your landlord with a Council tax exemption certificate which are available from academic registry after enrolment in order to ensure your exemption. 

Contracts 

It is recommended that a written contract, clearly outlining the terms and conditions of the tenancy, is exchanged. Do not sign anything without reading it very carefully and without fully understanding it as the contract is a legally binding document. In some cases where a contract has not been provided it is important to be aware that a verbal contract is still legally binding on both parties and you still have statutory rights. 

Inventory 

It is useful for both landlord and tenant to know what furnishings are at the property at the beginning of the tenancy and to agree their condition. If the landlord has not provided a list of contents, it is advisable to request that one be compiled. This should be used as a checklist at the termination of the tenancy.
Further information and advice can be found in our Housing Advice Guide (PDF download)

Landlord Accreditation Wales

As part of the University’s commitment to ensuring our students are provided with good quality, well managed accommodation, the University of South Wales requires all registered landlords to become accredited with Landlord Accreditation Wales (LAW) by September 2010. The scheme concentrates on standards of knowledge and professionalism within the sector and is a joint initiative between the Private Sector Housing/Environmental Health Services from each of the 22 Local Authorities in Wales, and is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government. 

Please visit www.welshlandlords.org.uk for further information: