Moving into a place of your own can be very exciting. After all, there is nothing quite like getting the keys to your first house. But taking the leap into private renting is a big deal. Follow this advice and you will increase your odds of having a positive experience.
Plymouth has many student accommodation providers, so do some research on what's out there and ask other students about their experiences. Choosing where to move is particularly important as the location of your new home will effect your whole life. Also, depending on who you’re moving in with, what your requirements are, and how flexible you are willing to be, there might not be much choice.
Most student houses are rather basic, with very variable room sizes and minimal furnishings – so compromise and keeping an open mind is important. That being said, always shop around and probably don't sign a contract for the first thing you see. To ensure your property makes the grade look for the ANUK Accreditation for purpose built student accommodation or a HMO license for house shares.
Give yourself time to decide if you are going to share, and who with, before you start looking.
Private accommodation isn’t as flexible as student halls and you cannot up and leave if your living situation no longer suits you or you have a falling out with someone. Also, unlike in University run halls, your landlord cannot and will not mediate personal disputes.
Try to move in with people you know you will get along with, ideally with similar routines and tolerance levels.
As a minimum:
Your room must be furnished as a bedroom/study. It should include:
If possible rent a house with a lounge/communal area, it will improve your time in the property enormously. If your property has a communal area it must be suitably carpeted and curtained and have an acceptable form of heating.
Approved standard size gas or electric appliances must be provided. A fridge/freezer, pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, kettle and waste bin are standard items to expect in a shared property. Each tenant should have food storage space, preferably wall mounted [space below a sink is not acceptable].
All furniture provided in a shared property should be safe and fit for purpose. Upholstered furniture must comply with flammability regulations and should have a label stating this.
Fire extinguishers and fire blankets must be provided as appropriate to the type and size of property. Smoke detectors/alarms must be fitted and should be mains powered.
A student house share is likely to be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), which means they are required to have a license from Plymouth City Council. To be classed as an HMO the property will have at least three tenants, from more than one household, sharing a toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities. A HMO license will normally last for 5 years and will ensure:
This is an essential and very important document. Do not sign it until you have read it individually and collectively as prospective tenants and you all understand every part, including the minutia of your liabilities and responsibilities. If in any doubt seek assistance.
Before you sign anything ask if there is a charge and, if so, what the charge will be and what it is for.
You will be asked to pay a deposit when you sign your Agreement. The amount can vary considerably from one week to several months’ rent in advance. Always obtain a receipt for your deposit and make sure you know precisely what the deposit covers.
Legally your landlord/agent has to place your deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, within fourteen days of receiving it. You should be given the following details:
Your landlord will have to check that you are eligible to rent a property in the UK. You will need to show them some combination of the following documents and allow the landlord to take copies, prior to the tenancy starting.
One of the following documents:
OR any two of the following documents: