by John Baird, ScotlandDebtSolutions.
Becoming a student opens up a world of new experiences and Edinburgh is certainly one of the best places in the country in which to live and study. But one experience we could all do with avoiding is that of being caught out or otherwise blindsided by a nasty surprise relating to a tenancy agreement.
So with that in mind, here are some questions well worth having in mind as you approach the process of finalising a tenancy deal with a private landlord.
1 – What type of contract is it?
It can be important to figure out what type of tenancy contract you’re being presented with because it could make a notable difference to your bank balance if you are not careful.
The key point to focus on is whether you’re signing a joint tenancy agreement with your housemates or if you are agreeing an individual deal that relates solely to you and your landlord.
In a joint tenancy scenario you and your housemates will be liable for covering the total monthly rental amounts even if one or more people living there move out.
So, ideally, you’ll be able to make arrangements on an individual basis but you should at least be aware of what a joint tenancy agreement involves if that isn’t possible.
2 – Is your deposit protected?
There are laws in place to protect deposit amounts that are entered into official deposit protection schemes in relation to rental situations. These schemes are designed to protect both tenants and landlords alike but they can only do so if they are in fact being used.
So you should always check this out to make sure you don’t end up losing the deposit amount you will in all likelihood be asked to pay upfront as you move into your new accommodation.
3 – Have you provided a guarantor?
Landlords renting out properties to students will usually want to ensure that the relevant rent payments are covered and backed up by someone other than the students who are planning to live there.
Students of course are not always famed for their financial prudence and landlords like to know that they can chase parents or other third parties in cases where rent amounts are not being paid for any reason.
There is no legal obligation for anyone renting a property to provide a guarantor but it could be that a prospective landlord will insist that you provide one. Either way it is worth being aware if you have committed to having someone else back up your rental commitments on your behalf if you can’t pay.
4 – Does it cover the summer months?
It could be that you will have little choice but to continue paying rent on your student accommodation even during months weeks or months when you are not around.
However, it could also be that you can make some very notable savings by investigating the possibility of limiting the scope of your tenancy agreement in a way that means you and your housemates don’t need to pay during the summer months if you’re not going to be around.
5 – Are there any extra fees involved?
It can often be the case that agents’ fees will be included into the equation within the context of a student let tenancy agreement. There won’t always be additional fees in the agreement but it can be well worth enquiring further if you are unsure of precisely what certain amounts you’re being asked to pay for actually relate to.
So there we are, a few questions to have in mind as you come to sign a student tenancy agreement. No doubt there will be plenty of things you’d rather be doing than reading the small print on this kind of a contract but it just might save you time, money and hassle down the line if you consider these issues beforehand rather than after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
John Baird is a personal finance and insolvency expert from ScotlandDebtSolutions. He specialises in advising people on how to manage their money and deal with their personal debt problems.