Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Advice For Students.

It’s that time of year when all over the land parents are weeping and clinging to their offspring’s ankles in a vain attempt to delay their departure. Either that, they’re ready to open the bubbly and put out the bunting. Yes, it will soon be time for beloved children to depart the home for several years of study. And also, drinking.

For many it’s their first time of actual independence. Some head straight for halls of residence. Others venture where the wild things are – that is, the private rented sector. Here are some tips. I hope they help.

1. If in Scotland, all – that is every single agency fee, encoded as premiums, is illegal. Don’t pay them – or if you do, it’s easy to reclaim them

2. In joint tenancies, open a shared account for bills, and rent. Or at least pay one bill each to share the load. You’re all friends now, but if someone doesn’t pay up, you’ll lose out.

3. Full time students are not liable for council tax, but non-students will have to cover the bill for the whole house. Complicated for ‘mixed’ households.

4. Life in a rat infested, mould encrusted hovel run by a demonic landlord is not fun, or an adventure, no matter how temporary. You deserve better. Complain to the council, or seek help from advice agencies.

5. Don’t annoy the neighbours, especially if they have kids or are elderly. Befriend them.

6. Watch out for ‘furnished’ flats. Check they have desks, and enough cupboards and fridge space for all occupants.

7. If you return home over the xmas holidays and leave the house empty, leave the heating on low, and check for other measures – like finding where the stopcock is. You don’t want to come back faced with a deluge in your lounge.

8. Put the bins out.

9. When negotiating your rental contract, check that coincides with how long you want to stay. Obvious, but no point signing up for a year if you want to leave in June, at the end of term.

10. Rules are tedious, and an imposition, but at least discuss what you all expect, as things like not washing up can lead to actual bloodshed. Sort out common flashpoints – like bathroom rotas and noise level, before violence breaks out, or the sulking/door-slamming starts.

11. Don’t leave your washing to fester in the washing machine – take it out when the cycle is done. Everybody needs to wash their clothes.

12. Don’t make loads of noise when you come back late, either on the street, or in the house. Yep – could well be your one-off late party, but for everyone else, it’s work tomorrow.

13. Don’t surreptitiously move your new partner without permission. Everybody hates that.

14. Try and meet your new landlord in person. Letting agents do their level best to obstruct this, but it’s best in case of midnight power failures, total meltdown etc.

15. Keep an eye out for each other. Make sure everyone comes home safe, and isn’t ill, or depressed. You’re sort of family now, so look after each other.


Emma K said...

I have a few to add!

Expect the unexpected. You may be best of friends when you all move in, but when money is involved, things can get a bit prickly. Don't be "that" flatmate who never pays up for stuff. I've seen a lot of friendships fall apart after flat sharing for a year.

Don't get a pet. My old flatmate bought a guinea pig even though it was against the lease. The darn thing chewed so much stuff, internet cables were destroyed every week, it shed hair all over the place and was a general annoyance. Flat inspections will be a nightmare (we had to hide the guinea pig) and you'll be left looking after little Fluffy if your friend goes home for a few days.

Don't annoy the neighbours - I second this! Most student areas will have blocks of flats full of fellow students but some will have families and elderly couples. If you do have a party, let your neighbours know by putting a note through the door. Don't destroy the stairwell, run riot in it or use it as a smoking area. It's annoying and if you get reported to the police, you could lose out on a reference from them for your next place.

Wash those dishes!

Anonymous said...

For some reason every all female house i was aware of at uni eventually fell apart into two or more groups. The mixed houses tended to fare better, even if it was just one fella (i have no idea why). The all make houses tended to become rather stinky...


any deposit must be protected by an authorised scheme. Don't let the LL fob you off!

Anonymous said...

Renter Girl

Complain to the landlord first ...
Then if unhappy ,outside agency's .

Dazzla said...

I saw that spammer's post on my RSS.

What a vile excuse for humanity.

Emma said...

I'm not sure I'd recommend opening a joint account with people you might not know well. Apart from the fact that if you can all put money into an account then you can all take it out (as some of my friends discovered to their surprise and horror when the joint account was empty when they came to pay the bills), it's not really a good idea to financially link yourself to a relative stranger. It's not always easy to close joint accounts, especially if someone sods off into the sunset part-way through their course, and whilst the free-spirit types are fun to live with at uni they're generally less fun to be linked with five years down the line.

But it is a good idea to take a bill each - at least that way you don't end up with one poor soul doing all the chasing for cash and being the person everyone avoids ...

RenterGirl said...

I know, but there are accounts with limited access, no overdraft etc. Trust has to be a factor in all house shares. Which is why the enforced share policy of restrictions on U35 claimants nd housing benefit

Anonymous said...

Good ideas for students but I need to correct one item.

Full time students are not exempt from Council tax. The issue is more complicated. Council Tax is a liabilty on a property. Exemption exists for a property if all occupiers are full time students.

If at least one person is not a full time student then the party/group are joint tenants then the local council will usually send the bill to all the occupiers. The group may be eligible for a single person discount of 25% if there is one non-student. If there are two non-students the discount will not apply. A non student may be eligible for Council tax benefit but as the rules for that are complicated I will not go further. Contact your Stdent Union

space cadet said...

Personally, I would never opt for a joint account. Trust means well, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Arnie from Newington said...

Interesting that you don't mention checking the inventory and making amendments.

My guess is because you use a private landlord you either don't have an inventory or it is very basic.

RenterGirl said...

Barney's back. No - these tips are aimed at student life specifically, not anyone new to their tenancy. Can't resist those barbs, can you.