It is around this time of year that students in and around Leicester will begin to turn their thoughts to accommodation for the next year. For many, especially first-year students who are currently living in halls, this is the first time that they will be faced with the daunting task of entering a long-term contract involving property. The harsh reality of it is that letting agents and landlords might try to take advantage of potential residents, and as students with little experience, consider yourself the sort of low hanging fruit they would probably go for. So, for your benefit, we’ve broken up this student renting guide into what we consider the most important aspects of the letting process: the house viewing and your rights as a tenant.
Your rights as a tenant
- Accidents happen. And under the 1999 smoke alarm act all properties built after 1992 must have a smoke alarm on each floor. Furthermore, there should be adequate means of escape in your property as well as fire extinguishing devices.
- A registered plumber must check all gas appliances in the property every year. Ask the landlord for a gas safe certificate to prove it as a gas leak could be potentially fatal.
- Barring you falling at least two months behind on your rent or engaging in illegal activities, there should be no reason for your landlord to try to evict you. If this does happen, seek legal advice immediately. It is also important to note that it is illegal for a landlord to forcibly remove you from the property or change the locks while you’re out.
Viewing the house
- Always check the taps and showers. Many tenants are unaware of poor plumbing and water pressure before moving in which can lead to a very frustrating year for everyone involved.
- Student houses are frequently under-maintained and as a result, black mould and dampness are a common occurrence. Check the walls, ceiling, and particularly the windows as well for flaking wallpaper and paint. There might also be a musky smell in the air. Mould can damage clothes and cause health problems so it’s important to check thoroughly.
- Vermin can also be a major annoyance. Slugs, mice and fruit flies are frequent perpetrators so be sure to check for droppings and traps that might indicate an infestation problem.