8:00 AM, 31st August 2022, About a month ago
The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) has issued guidance on student property check-ins in anticipation of significant demand for rental properties this autumn.
The UK’s largest protector of deposits said that 425,830 students are due to start degree courses this month – that’s the second highest number of university admissions on record.
The organisation also points out that some academic institutions have already said they might not be able to house all first-year students in university accommodation, leaving them to arrange tenancies in the Private Rental Sector (PRS).
To help, they are offering eight top tips for landlords and student tenants to enjoy a smooth check-in this academic year.
Matt Trevett, the managing director at The DPS said: “The combination of historically high university applications, students deferring their places during the pandemic and a shortage of rental properties means that higher-than-expected numbers of students could be looking for private accommodation this autumn.
“We would encourage students, letting agents and landlords arranging tenancies during the next few weeks to follow a number of key steps to ensure a smooth tenancy and avoid the risk of falling into a dispute at the end.”
The DPS’ top tips for landlords and students looking to organise private rented accommodation this year include:
If you don’t know the landlord, check their name against the university or student union’s list of approved landlords. This is especially important if a tenant is arranging accommodation remotely.
Every UK landlord must, by law, protect a rental deposit with a government-backed deposit protection scheme. Within 30 days of receiving the deposit, landlords must also confirm several property and deposit details, including their chosen deposit scheme, their name and address and any other contributing tenants or third parties. Landlords who don’t do this may have to pay a penalty of between one and three times the property deposit amount.
Tenants should receive a tenancy agreement that spells out their obligations while renting a property. They should review the agreement at the start of the academic year to understand what they need to do. Tenants who do not receive this document should make sure they ask their landlord or letting agent for a copy.
The check-in provides an opportunity for the landlord or letting agent to agree on the condition of the property with the tenant before they have moved in.
An inventory should include accurate and factual descriptions of the condition of fixtures, including carpets, appliances, the walls and any garden as well as any existing damage. Tenants and landlords can make clear and concise amendments to the document so long as both parties sign it. This will help guide discussions about potential deposit deductions at the end of the tenancy.
Date-stamped photographs should clearly show the condition of an item or any existing damage that has gone beyond reasonable wear and tear. Tenants and landlords should still submit images as part of a claim even if they are not date-stamped because it may be possible to extract the information from the digital file.
Tenants should swiftly report any damage or defects that take place during the tenancy to the landlord, backed by an email. Landlords should also spell out that tenants sharing a property are jointly liable for any damage – including breakages and any issues with common areas. Openness from tenants when something goes wrong can help prevent disagreements at check-out.
Record all communication with a tenant or landlord in writing, especially anything agreed upon after the start of the tenancy and email it to the other party. Taking screenshots of text message exchanges records dates and even times and counts as evidence in the event of a dispute.
File copies of all tenancy-related documents, receipts and emails so that they are easily accessible in the event of any disagreement at the end of the tenancy, or simply to ensure a smooth check-out.