Published: 05/08/2016Living away from home for probably the last time, meeting new friends and beginning a new chapter of your life - your student days will be full of exciting experiences, most of them fun, some of them stressful. Renting student accommodation will probably fall into both of these categories, and it will certainly be your biggest expenditure, even if you’re intent on spending most of your time propping up the bar. Yet while choosing your flatmates and finding a suitable property can all seem daunting, getting these decisions right will mean you can enjoy your life as a student to the full. So don’t get caught out - here are five key things to consider before making your decision.
Sign on the dotted line
So you’ve spent weeks looking for the right student flat in Hendon, and finally you’re ready to move in. But just before the big day, your landlord-to-be suddenly changes his mind and tells you it's no longer available. Maybe he had a better offer, maybe he's decided to sell instead. This may seem unlikely, but it does happen now and again sadly, and unless you’ve signed your Tenancy Agreement then it’s a very real possibility, with landlords only obliged to return your holding deposit. Potentially you could find yourself with nowhere to live and only a very short time to find a place. The only way to avoid this situation is to ensure that you sign your Tenancy Agreement as soon as you’ve agreed terms.
Protect your deposit
If you’re planning on using your living room walls as an oversized notice board, or seeing how much furniture you can burn at your bonfire night party, then it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing your deposit again. Yet for those with a less creative interpretation of the terms of their Tenancy Agreement, remember that your landlord is obliged to safeguard your deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and needs to inform you which of the three government schemes he is using within 30 days of receiving it from you. Incredibly, more than a third of private renters in England and Wales have no knowledge of these schemes or whether their deposits are protected, so as with all other areas of the country, if you’re signing up for student accommodation in Hendon you need to check your own situation as early as possible.
Carry out an inventory
Now that your deposit’s protected, it’s important that you give yourselves the best chance of retaining it. Although most landlords are trustworthy, ensuring that you have an inventory in place can help prevent disputes arising over damage when it comes time to move out. Most landlords will provide inventories for tenants to sign, but where this is not the case, there’s nothing stopping you compiling one yourself using photographs and written descriptions. Specialised inventory services are available to help with this if you really can’t cope, but these will obviously add to the cost of your rental, so it’s worth taking time to get this right under your own steam if you can.
License to fill (time)
Common wisdom would have it that students spend nearly as much time watching daytime television as they spend in the pub. True or not, although most students will be aware of the concept of television licenses, many won't actually know where these mythical documents materialise from. Clearly your parents will have sorted this detail out previously, but if you’re moving into a student rental property in Hendon, this is one of the tedious necessities you will need to take care of. It may appear tempting to forego this particular responsibility, but if you do get caught, a fine of up to £1000 will mean your daily Cash in the Attic addiction resulting in less cash in your pocket. Fortunately for those renting on a shared basis, you only need one license regardless of how many televisions are in the house, so there’s really no excuse. By the way - to save you the time Googling it, here's where you get your TV license. You're welcome.
No need to do it yourself
Probably for the best anyway, students don’t tend to devote too much of their time to DIY. But if a prolonged session at the pub should inspire you to clamber up and fix that leaking roof, you need to be aware that it’s not actually your responsibility. Although tenants are often expected to take care of minor repairs and maintenance, any major exterior and structural work falls within the remit of your landlord. In particular your landlord needs to provide you with a copy of the property's annual Gas Safety certificate. If he doesn't, ask for one.