If you are young and in your late 20s, moving out and having your own space becomes a priority. Moving out and owning your space comes with rules and responsibilities that you should be aware of; if you are an aspiring student planning to move to Scotland, we might have some news! Recently, the Housing Act in Scotland has seen some new changes in student tenancy. As a student in Scotland, let's understand how these changes would affect your stay in Scotland. But first, let us see the meaning of student tenancy and what it is all about!
What Is Student Tenancy?
A student tenancy is a legal agreement between a landlord and a student that allows the student to live on the landlord's property for a set amount of time in exchange for rent.
Types of Student Tenancy
When renting a home from a private landlord or a letting agency, there are different tenancies.
- Short-assured tenancy: Short-assured tenancy was a type of tenancy that gave landlords more power over their properties and renting houses. These were contracts with a minimum length of six months, and one of the most strange but odd aspects of this tenancy was that the landlord would ask you to vacate the property without giving a reason. In today's housing Industry, it is no longer possible to have this type of tenancy; instead, the private residential tenancy or PRT came into effect.
- Private residential tenancy: The Scottish Government enacted this new rule to safeguard both student tenants and landlords in Scotland by making lease agreements more flexible. The following are the goals of the law:
- Make open-ended leases so that fixed-term contracts no longer bind tenants.
- Make it easy for tenants to move by requiring at least 28 days' notice to terminate a rental agreement.
- Tenants should be protected against unjust housing costs in the city.
- Provides simple reasons for repossessing a property, allowing landlords to reclaim ownership of a property in 18 different situations
Check out our blog on getting assistance on 11 things to look at when you are seeing a student accommodation.
Things you should know before signing a student tenancy agreement.
Check the list below to see the top 5 things you should take caution with while signing your student tenancy agreement:
1. Check the type of contract
Around the UK, Landlords are usually allowed to rent their properties based on two types of contracts, i.e. Individual and joint student tenancy agreements. If you find a single name on the contract, it is an individual one. Usually, it is a 1:1 contract, i.e. between the tenant and landlord, and is one of the best ways to approach renting a property in the UK. If you find more than one name on the contract, you are signing a joint student tenancy agreement. In such agreements, even if there is a group of people, the entire group is usually treated as one tenant. These contracts are a little riskier because everyone in the group is accountable for each other's actions. This means that if one group member fails to pay the rent, the entire group will be held liable; similarly, if one person decides to terminate their contract, all other tenants will be required to leave.
2. Read your student tenancy agreement
Even though agreements can be full of jargon and difficult to understand, you should not accept them in the same manner that you accept the terms and conditions of a website. i.e. accepting it without reading them. You need an extra pair of eyes and attention while skimming through these documents. Here are some things you must look for before stamping your approval on your student tenancy agreement
- Make sure you understand every clause of your student tenancy agreement; if you need clarification on any particular clause, ask your landlord or reach out to your student council.
- Check the contract's starting as well as ending date.
- Understand your core responsibilities of being a tenant, and read the section about things you are allowed and not allowed to do in the property area while staying.
- Check the rent or any other charges, such as late fees or damage expenses, that are or are stated in your student tenancy agreement.
- Make sure you know what days you'll be paying payments each month.
- Double-check that your deposit amount is also reflected on your agreement; if you are expected to pay some amount
- Lastly, confirm all the tenants' names and the landlord's names are written on the contract.
3. Student Tenancy deposit
Sadly! Accepting the terms and conditions of an agreement isn't enough for you to move into your landlord's property; there is more to it. Before you rent out any property, you must pay your landlord a tenant deposit, which should not exceed five weeks, and is usually paid with the first month's rent. When renting in parts of England, Scotland and Wales, the deposits you make to your landlord are protected under the deposit protection scheme. The deposited money is protected by the scheme and returned to you after you end your contract or leave your landlord's place.
This scheme was brought into action for the following reasons.
- To safely keep your deposit during the student tenancy period.
- A deposit can help cover any damages or issues like unpaid rent.
- Suppose there is a conflict or disagreement between you and your landlord. In that case, the student tenancy deposit will help resolve the conflict without being unbiased to any parties.
Here are two things you must be careful about with your tenancy deposit:
- Remember that as a student, you must only pay the deposit after agreeing to all the clauses in the agreement; you should only do it after you have agreed to all the conditions mentioned in the agreement.
- You must also cross-check that your landlord is a part of a government-recognised scheme that assures the safety of the deposited money.
- You cannot withdraw your tenancy deposit before you leave the property and end your living contract.
- If you suspect that your landlord might be deceiving you or breaking law and order, you can be compensated up to three times the deposited amount.
4. Get your Guarantor
Most landlords will also ask you to provide a co-signer or guarantee who will be responsible for your rent if you cannot pay it. Even if you are an international student, you are not exempted from this condition; you must have a guarantor for your rent, who could be your parents, guardian, friend, or anybody else. Landlords typically require guarantors to ensure that if you fall behind on your payments or dues, they can be held accountable for your actions. Because renting an apartment is legally binding, the consequences of your guarantor's negligence may result in legal action.
Here are a few things that you should know about guarantors:
- Your guarantor should be reliable and trustworthy.
- You can also find landlords and accommodations that won't require a guarantor.
- Many private guarantor companies act as a guarantor for students in the UK in return for a small service fee like Housing Hand & UK Guarantor.
- Your guarantor does not have to be physically present during the renting process; they would have to produce identity proof like a passport or official identification card, etc.
Check out our blog on rent guarantor for international students
5. Negotiate your rent
The rule of thumb for buying anything expensive is negotiating, which also means negotiating your rent. If your landlord might be charging you an exorbitant price for your apartment, ask them to lower it to your financial budget and expectations. Do not look for properties that are out of your budget or affordability. Make sure you choose properties lined with your finances for the entire renting tenure.
Student Tenancy Rights
Knowing your rights is essential and empowering, especially when deceived or exploited. Here are some of the "rights" you have if you have a private residential student tenancy that will protect you from any misinformation or deceiving tricks:
- A PRT, or Private Residential Student Tenancy agreement, does not have a termination date.
- Your landlord cannot evict you from the property without giving a valid reason for eviction.
- The landlord cannot include any clauses in the agreement that threaten your rights.
- Your landlord should, without fail, give you a student tenancy agreement and a set of notes that will make you understand and read the agreement better.
- After paying the deposit in the deposit protection scheme, the landlord must inform you and send you the details.
- When it comes to any repairs to the property, your landlord will be responsible for them.
- Landlords are usually not allowed to invade their tenants' privacy whenever they feel like it; they should give their tenants clear notice of a visit or inspection in advance.
- Any change in the rent prices should be brought to notice three months before the change to the tenant.
- You can appeal to it if you have been evicted from the property. The landlord is not allowed to push you out of the house.
- If you decide to move out of the property, you should inform the landlord 28 days before departure.