Before you start unloading your boxes, go around your room/house and complete an inventory of the space. Make notes about furniture and appliances, and take photos of any damage not highlighted on the inventory sheets provided (if you are given one). Provide a copy of this to your landlord or letting agent.
Make a note of the readings on your energy meters, and contact the suppliers with the name of each of the tenants and the reading to open an account. You should discuss with your housemates how you will arrange bills before moving into a house.
Meet your neighbours! If you're in student halls or apartments, get to know the people in the rooms around you; if you're in a private rented house, pop around and introduce yourself to your neighbours. Let them know if you're planning a party and be considerate about living next to them - you'll appreciate doing this when it comes to exam time.
Pop the kettle on and make yourself at home. Staying within the rules of your tenancy agreement, make your space your own. Get yourself ready for the year ahead so that your room is the retreat you need it to be.
An inventory may be provided to you by your landlord or letting agent. If it is not, you can find template inventories or create your own. It is important not to skip this step on the basis of not being given one, as it strengthens any deposit disputes if you have evidence to show them.
An inventory is, more or less, a checklist of furniture and appliances in your room/house. Some inventories are broken down room-by-room, some just list the main pieces of furniture. Our advice is to note down anything of interest in each room that you occupy (or which fall under your tenancy agreement as useable by you). List all furniture and appliances, and flag any damages that you can see. Taking photographs of these can also help in supporting any dispute at the end of your contract.
Sign the inventory, and ensure a copy is given to your landlord or letting agent. Storing this inventory alongside your contract and deposit information will keep all important documents together in one place.
Writing down meter readings on the day you move in limits the risk of being held liable for outstanding energy charges attached to the property. If possible you should include all names on the bills. The utility companies should allow you all to register jointly so it may be a good idea to open a house bank account where these bills are paid from. If one person's name is on the bills, even though all members of the household are liable due to usage, it is harder to prove who should be charged.
If you don't provide accurate readings when you move in you could end up paying the previous tenants' bills. If you cannot find the meters in your property or there is some confusion over which meter services your house or flat, contact your landlord or estate agent.
For Bills-Inclusive Agreements:
Make sure that your name is not on the bill, or you will be potentially held liable if the landlord does not pay the bills. Make sure you know what happens if you use more, or less than the landlord has allowed for - will you pay more, or get a refund. These contracts can cost more, as the landlords will allow enough usage to ensure that they get enough money. The may also charge to cover admin. Some landlords offer inclusive rents where the bills are included. While these may seem a good idea and can save you the bother of setting up accounts, there are some things to be aware of; again make sure it is clear in the contract exactly how much of the rent is allocated to bills.
Depending on where you are staying, "neighbours" may mean either the people who live in the halls/flats around you, or could mean the houses surrounding your own. If you're moving into a student house, you may have housemates and neighbours; it is important to get to know the people you'll be living nearby so pop around and say hello!
Being respectful of the others surrounding you can be hugely beneficial to both you and them, and getting along is always useful in creating a friendly environment in which to live and study. Let neighbours know if you're planning a party, or even invite them along; try to resolve any issues early on, and keep an open dialogue about disputes inside the house/halls to help make your year go smoothly. A packet of biscuits or a large cake usually go down well on day one!
Once you're settled in, you will need to start thinking about your tv licence and insurance. Council tax is also on the list as you may need to apply for a council tax exemption certificate if you are not living in University halls.
If you watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service – on any device – you need to be covered by a TV License. That includes a TV, laptop, tablet, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD recorder or anything else. Your tenancy agreement may state that a TV license is included - you will need to check if this is solely for living room areas or your room as well. Find out more at www.tvllicensing.co.uk
If you are a full-time undergraduate student, or otherwise eligible for a council tax exemption certificate, you will be able to find this on the Student homepage of your E-vision account. This is automatically updated for you to access. For council tax purposes you are a full-time student if your course:
- Lasts at least one calendar or academic year for at least 24 weeks out of the year, and
- Normally involves at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week during term time.
Some postgraduate students may have difficulties proving they are a student for council tax purposes. If you are having difficulties in proving this, we would advice contacting the Registry office by emailing them at email@example.com for more information on next steps.
Landlords will usually have insurance which covers the buildings in which you are living. They will not usually cover contents, however. With this in mind, to ensure your belongings are protected, we would advise you to buy contents insurance which covers all of your important belongings. There are a number of insurers available, but we would recommend Endsleigh Insurance, as they offer specialist insurance designed for students. You can look into the insurance they offer on their website; www.endsleigh.co.uk