You’ve found the perfect house, all of your soon-to-be housemates agree, and you’re ready to sign your name on the dotted line.

Before you do, take a pause!

Contracts are binding legal documents. We recommend taking at least 24 hours to look through your contract and check for terms you feel uncomfortable with.

Do you all definitely understand the terms you’re agreeing to? Remember, once you sign your contract, you are tied to it.

Our Advisors can look through your contract with you and help to identify:

  • Key points, such as dates, payments required, and utility bill allowances
  • Key terms which may impact on your choosing the home such as pets or family members being allowed within the property, use of garden space, etc. 

Key Terms to Look For

  • Rent total
  • Length of contract
  • Type of contract (be aware that a joint contract will mean you are liable for all members of the house and their actions)
  • Access to/inclusion of facilities or utilities - does the rent include the electric, gas and water? Is wi-fi included? Are there any caps on utility usage?
  • Any ‘penalties’ outlined, which may include additional fees (Note: charging of fees that are not permitted payments changed this year. Shelter have created a list of ‘permitted payments’ at this link).
  • Any terms which you believe to be unfair (i.e. banning visitors from sleeping in your room overnight)

Next Steps

Once you’re happy with the contract and have signed on the dotted line, you may be asked to provide a Deposit.

On average, deposits are equal to one months’ rent.

Once you have paid a deposit, your landlord has 30 days to secure it within a deposit protection scheme and provide you with details of the scheme which holds it.

Deposit Protection Schemes act as a neutral party while keeping your deposit safe. At the end of your tenancy, they will handle any disputes that arise where the landlord wishes to keep some or all of your deposit. It is therefore important to ensure you keep all your documentation carefully stored to be able to argue any deductions at the end of your tenancy.

The three government-approved schemes are:

If your landlord states that they are using any other scheme then your deposit may not be protected. Check the details online or contact our Advisors.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has created this video to explain how to not lose your deposit:

 

Guarantors

As part of the contract-signing process, you may also be asked to provide details of a guarantor. A guarantor is a person who agrees to take responsibility if you fall behind on your rent or other costs. It is important that both you and your guarantor are clear on what the expectations are of them before either of you sign as this forms part of the binding agreement.

The general criteria for a guarantor include:

  • Being aged between 18 and 75
  • Having a good credit history
  • Being able to cover the monthly rent
  • Being a UK Resident

If you are an international student (or home student who is not able to get a guarantor), there may still be ways to rent. Speak to your landlord or letting agent first to see if they are willing to compromise. They may be willing to take a larger deposit in lieu of a guarantor or may be willing to use an online guarantor service (a paid service that provides a guarantor for you). If you are struggling to find a landlord willing to take you on as a tenant, get in touch and we will liaise with local providers to help you to find other options.

How Can the Advice Service Help with contracts and paperwork?

Our Advisors can look through your contract with you and help to identify:

  • Key points, such as dates, payments required, and utility bill allowances
  • Key terms which may impact on your choosing the home such as pets or family members being allowed within the property, use of garden space, etc. 

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