18 Jun 2019
Finding a property can be a stressful time for students, most of whom probably haven’t had much dealings with a landlord or a letting agent before. Here are some of the most important things to be aware of:
From 2018 all businesses offering a letting services in Scotland require to registered with the Scottish Government. If they’re not registered (or have not at least applied) they are trading illegally. If they are on the register, they will be provided with a Letting Agent Registration Number (LARN). The most common businesses who will require this are letting agents, solicitors, estate agents or surveyors. You can check the register at https://register.lettingagentregistration.gov.scot/search
Aberdein Considine are registered and our landlord registration number is LARN 1810018. In addition this we are members of the ARLA Propertymark, the Council of Letting Agents, regulated by the Law Society of Scotland and accredited by Landlord Accreditation Scotland. Students can be assured therefore that when dealing with Aberdein Considine are dealing with highly trained professionals.
If letting from a private landlord make sure they are registered. You can do this via: https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/search/start. Also find out what arrangements they have in place for reporting any issues during your tenancy.
Aberdein Considine have a 24/7 emergency helpline available to all their tenants.
Decide what you can afford before you start house hunting. Remember you will have to budget for gas, electricity, phone, internet and a TV licence, as well as food and general household items. One of the bonuses of being a student is that you don’t have to pay council tax for your house. However bear in mind that should you decide to live with a non-student you will be required to pay council tax with a 25% discount.
This is very important, as one of the main problems in shared houses is disagreements between housemates. Conflicting lifestyles, recreational habits and personality clashes can cause misery and often come to a head during exam time. Remember you are signing a legally binding contract and will not be able to simply walk away. Have a think about your own lifestyle and what you would like in a housemate, for example reliability with money. If you are an early riser who prefers a quiet and tidy house, don’t choose to live with a messy party animal – a fun friend is not necessarily a good housemate.
Start looking early and be prepared to compromise. As a group decide on a lead tenant and how to split and share responsibility for bills. Consider how you will pay the deposit and who will be the guarantor for each occupier. What are the deal-breakers: number of bedrooms? Parking spaces? Proximity to university?
This varies from area to area, generally however the team at Aberdein Considine start getting enquiries from students in June reaching a peak in late August. Our advice is to start your search as soon as you possibly can.
When viewing a property you need to make sure the property is suitable for your requirements. Is the layout suitable, are there enough facilities for the number of housemates. Is there broadband? What is the condition of the property like. Most common may be signs of damp, try and look behind large items of furniture need windows – are they trying to hide something? If landlords are letting to 3 more unrelated people they will require a valid House in Multiple Occupancy Licence (HMO) from the local authority.
All landlords must comply with the following if letting their property
Letting agents and landlords must be able to provide evidence of compliance upon request.
Read the contract carefully before signing. If you have any doubts, your Students’ Union will go through it with you. The contract will include the address of the property, the landlord and tenants’ names, relevant contact details, rental amount and date on which it is due. You might agree with a landlord that they will repair something before you move in – make sure this is added to the contract before you sign.
The most common type of contract for students is a Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) including the names of all tenants which will be held “jointly and severally liable”. This means that if one housemate leaves the house, the others are still responsible for paying that person’s rent; you are all legally responsible for all of the rent, not just your own.
You will also be asked to provide someone to act as a guarantor (usually a family member) who is willing to accept legal and financial responsibility should you fail to pay your rent or damage the property. The guarantor needs to be aware that they will be required to go through a referencing process, including credit checks before they will be accepted. They will also have to sign a contract.
The letting agent or the landlord must pass your deposit to a government approved scheme within 30 days of the start of the lease. They must also give you details of where the money is being held. Full details of the tenancy deposit scheme can be found at; https://www.mygov.scot/tenancy-deposits-tenants/
Be prepared to make notes on the inventory, from small carpet holes to marks on walls. Get these amendments agreed and keep a dated copy signed by the agent. If you don’t, expect to lose your deposit
Read your gas and electricity meters when you first move in, notify the utility companies of the change - give them the meter readings, your move in date and the names of all the tenants. This ensures that you share responsibility for the payments. If you have a television in your house then you need to buy a TV licence, more information can be found here: www.tvlicensing.co.uk The landlords insurance will not cover your possessions. Make sure you have sufficient cover in place for your own possessions. Most agents will be able to refer you to specialist providers of tenants insurance.
Report any problems/damage as they happen and keep copies to prove that you reported it. If you go on holidays, or returning home for a break you need to check the terms of your lease to ensure you do not become liable for any burst pipes etc. whilst the property is empty.
Make sure you check your lease for when and how to serve notice to terminate your lease. Make sure you leave the property in the same condition as the day you arrived. Club together to pay for a cleaner especially if you don’t have time to do this yourselves. An end of tenancy inventory recheck will take place and any deductions a landlords wants to make will have to be submitted to the tenancy deposit scheme. Full details of how you get your money back can be found at: https://safedepositsscotland.com/blog/2014/06/04/How-do-I-get-my-deposit-back/