Wherever you live, your accommodation is one of the most important parts of your life as a student and you should feel happy and safe living there.
The Advice Centre supports students with a wide range of accommodation issues, contracts, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, inventories, bills, council tax, gas safety and moving out.
We offer a free tenancy agreement checking service
Are you looking for your next student home and need a bit of help with the agreement before signing? We can help you with checking the small print. If you would like your agreement checked, before signing, please contact the Advice Centre.
*Q How and when do I find accommodation in Plymouth for the next academic year?
*A We suggest that you take time to do your research before signing a contract. Don't feel pressurised into signing a tenancy, particularly very far in advance of the start date. Do an internet search of accommodation providers for students and ask other students for recommendations. Read the reviews, check out the area during the day / night and ask the current tenants if they are happy living in the accommodation. Make sure you contact the Advice Centre for a free tenancy check before you sign.
*Q We have found a house and the landlord wants us to pay a £200 deposit each and sign the contract by tomorrow to guarantee the house is ours. Is this normal practice?
*A You should resist any pressure from a landlord to sign a tenancy agreement quickly. A reasonable landlord will allow you time to take independent advice before you sign a contract which is a legally binding agreement and can be enforced through the court system.
*Q My contract says that I will be "joint and severally liable" for the rent. Is this usual?
*A This is a legally significant term and could leave you (or your guarantor) liable for the full rent of the whole tenancy if the landlord is unable to recover the rent from your housemates. We always recommend that students insist on an individual tenancy.
*Q My contract says that I have a cap on utilities. What does this mean?
*A It is usual practice for there to be a fair usage cap when bills for utilities are included in the rent. This should be confirmed in the terms and conditions of the contract. If, at the end of your tenancy, the bills exceed this level set, you will be asked for to pay extra. It is important to take meter readings when you move in and move out in case of any dispute over usage of utilities.
*Q What is the role of a guarantor?
*A The role of a guarantor is to cover any accommodation costs to the landlord which you do not pay. This covers rent and any damage costs. Your guarantor's financial liability should be limited to just your rent/damages if it is an individual tenancy. If it is a joint and several tenancy, then a guarantor's responsibility will extend to the debt of all tenants in the accommodation.
*Q My landlord has asked for a UK guarantor but I'm an international student and I do not have one. What are my options?
*A There are various companies which can act as a guarantor for you but these will charge a fee for doing so. You should make sure you read the documentation before signing up to this. The University does offer a 'Your Guarantor Scheme' which you can read more about by clicking here. Your landlord may accept full or part payment of the annual rent in advance in lieu of a guarantor.
*Q My letting agent is refusing to give me the contact details for my landlord due to GDPR. Can they do this?
*A You are entitled to be told the name and address of your landlord under section 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. If your letting agent refuses to provide this information, you will need to send them a letter detailing that pursuant to section 1 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 they must provide you with your landlord’s full name and address within 21 days. If the letting agent does not respond they can be fined. https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/private_renting/how_to_find_your_landlord
*QUsually my landlord is happy to wait for the rent instalment until my student finance is paid to me at the end of September. However, this year they are refusing to let me have the keys until I've paid a proportion (or the full Amount) of rent due. Can they do this?
*AIt depends on what your tenancy agreement says and whether you have an agreement in writing that your landlord has agreed to delayed payment. What has happened in previous years is not relevant. If the agreement you have signed requires full or part payment by a certain date, and you have no written agreement for any change to those terms, then you are bound by them if you wish to have access to your accommodation.
*Q Can I cancel my accommodation contract?
*A Once signed, a tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract and cannot be cancelled unless the landlord agrees.
*Q I’ve been in my house for a few months now but am really not getting along with some of the other housemates. I’m now desperate to move out. What are the implications if I leave?
*A Once you have signed your tenancy, you do have a rent liability for the duration of the tenancy whether you live there or not as it is a legally binding contract. Some landlords may allow you to find a replacement tenant to take your place but again, you need to make sure this is done properly so do contact the Advice Centre for information
*Q My landlord keeps entering the property uninvited. What can I do about this?
*A You have a right to live in your property without being harassed by your landlord. In the first instance, you should write to your landlord explaining that you do not wish him/her to visit the property unless it is for a specific reason and with at least 24 hours notice. If this does not resolve the matter, you could consider taking legal action.
*Q What should I do if we have mice?
*A You should first ensure that all foods are carefully put away and stored in containers with close fitting lids. Ask your landlord for permission to block up any obvious holes in the skirting boards with filler.
*Q We have lots of disrepair in our house and have contacted the landlord to fix the problems, but he is not doing anything about it. What would you recommend?
*A As a general guide, we advise all students to communicate with their landlord in writing as this gives you a paper-trail of evidence, clearly showing when requests were made. By law, your landlord has a duty to repair certain things, regardless of whether these are expressly stated in your contract or not.
*Q What can I do if my landlord won’t carry out repairs?
*A We suggest that all requests for repairs are done in writing. If the problems are not resolved, you will need to consider taking legal action
*Q Can I withhold my rent payments?
*A Students may want to withhold payments for their accommodation until they receive a fee waiver or discount. This is known as rent striking. We do not encourage rent striking as it may result in rent arrears or legal action being taken. Students in accommodation are under contractual obligation to pay their rent and must do so on time. Any student who is unable to pay their accommodation fees should speak to their landlord or accommodation provider as soon as possible and let them know about any financial difficulty.
*Q Can my landlord make a claim in the Small Claims Court if I don't pay my rent?
*A Yes. If you landlord does not want to evict you or your tenancy has come to an end, he can bring a claim against you or your guarantor in the Small Claims Court. This is usually an online process and does not always involve attending. https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money
*Q What should I do if I am being bullied by my housemates?
*A The University does not tolerate bullying and harassment by any students. In the first instance, you should speak to a Dignity and Respect Advisor.https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/about-us/university-structure/service-areas/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/student-support
*QI want to leave but other tenants are staying in the property
*A If other tenants are staying on, it is unlikely you will able to leave without continuing to pay rent unless you find a replacement tenant. You should discuss your wish to end the tenancy with the other tenants and the landlord. If the landlord is happy to let you go and will not require your rent to be covered in your absence, then you will not be required to pay (you must get this in writing). However, if the landlord will not release you from the contract without a replacement, they could still ask you, your housemates or your guarantor for the money, even if you have moved out.
*QI have left my property should I let my landlord know?
*A Yes, you should keep in touch with your landlord about your situation. Make sure you pay all your household bills - for example, gas, electricity or broadband. Read through your tenancy agreement, it may have things you have agreed to do at the end of the tenancy. Check your contract before the fixed term ends to see if you have to give notice to end your tenancy. If there is a clause in your agreement, it will tell you how much notice to give.
*Q What should I do if my landlord will not return my deposit?
*A Your deposit should be protected in an authorised scheme - failure to do so can be addressed through court system. Any dispute about the return of a deposit should be referred to the scheme's dispute resolution service.
*Q My landlord wants to end my tenancy early to accommodate family members in property. Can they do this?
*A No. Your tenancy agreement is legally binding on both parties. Your landlord can only evict you if he has a legal reason for doing so. https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/eviction/eviction_notices_from_private_landlords
*Q My landlord/letting agent wants to deduct money from our deposit before he returns it to cover the cost of a Covid deep clean. Can he do this?
*A No. Under the Tenant Fees Act, a landlord must cover the cost of any such deep clean himself. This is clarified on page 77 of the Guidance. If you wish to challenge deductions from your deposit, please contact the Advice Centre for further information. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/922900/Tenant_Fees_Act_-_Tenant_Guidance.pdf