Student life

Letting agents lingo

What your letting agent wants you to know

Signing up for a house after university halls will be the first time many students use a letting agent, sign a tenancy agreement and become responsible for more than just a room.

To help you understand what your letting agent is talking about and to speed up the lettings process, we’ve created a list of things your letting agent wants you to know.

1. Tenancy agreements

Most tenants will sign an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Make sure you read and understand this before signing.

You will most likely be offered a Fixed Term contract e.g. September to September. This means you are responsible for rent for the whole of this period, even if you move out for any holidays.

Your letting agent will either give each housemate their own contract or create a joint tenancy between you all. Make sure you know your contract type – if you have your own contract and your housemate doesn’t pay their rent, you won’t be affected. However, if you are on a joint tenancy and one housemate doesn’t pay, your landlord is within their rights to ask you to pay the shortfall.

2. Guarantors

Your guarantor, normally a parent or guardian, is responsible for covering your share of the rent should you fail to pay it.

Your guarantor should be aware that they will be agreeing to be held responsible for any damage to the property and could be named in legal proceedings if initiated by the landlord.

3. Tenant Deposit Scheme

Your landlord must protect your deposit in one of three government-backed deposit schemes and has 30 days to confirm to you which scheme your money is with.

4. Credit checks and references

A reference provides the letting agent and landlord with information about your identity, credit history, previous addresses, income and more. These checks are predominantly there to confirm that you will be able to afford to pay the rent and that there is no adverse information detailed against you, such as County Court Judgements for unpaid debts.

Some agents will only conduct these checks on your guarantor.

5. Your rights as a tenant

As a tenant you have the right to a minimum of 24 hours’ notice from your landlord or letting agent if they want to visit the property. You may have routine property inspections, if so this will be stated in your Tenancy Agreement.

6. Your responsibilities

Your landlord should expect fair wear and tear to the property and in return you are expected to maintain the property to an acceptable standard. Your Tenancy Agreement is likely to confirm that you have tenant liability insurance for the landlord’s fixtures and fittings (which is usually included in student contents insurance as standard) – this covers the things in the property that your landlord owns that you are responsible for, such as carpets, curtains and bathroom sets. Check your inventory to establish exactly what you are responsible for.

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