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.