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STUDENT RENTERS SURVIVAL GUIDE

17th August 2016

The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) top tips for first-time renters

Whether you’re off to university, or moving into your first flat-share, the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), a countrywide organisation trying to make renting safer, has some useful advice.

 

Do your research and use a professional

There are a number letting agent bodies whose members provide a professional service. The National Approved Letting Scheme’s (NALS) letting agents adhere to a code of conduct and standards that protect you should anything go wrong. Others include RICS, ARLA and UKALA. If you’re renting through a landlord, see if your university or college has a list of approved landlords in the area, or try landlord associations, the NLA or RLA.

2. Protect, protect, protect

So you’ve insured your shiny new laptop and phone, but what about the rent money you’re about to hand to your letting agent? Before you do, make sure they have Client Money Protection (CMP). This protects money held by an agent (i.e. rent and tenancy deposits), meaning tenants can recover their funds if an agent steals the cash or uses it fraudulently.

Unlike tenancy deposit protection, it’s currently not mandatory for an agent to have CMP in place, so if you want to protect all your cash, check your agent has CMP. Go to www.safeagents.co.uk

Remember you have responsibilities too

When you sign an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), you are agreeing to a legal contract. Make sure you read the AST thoroughly and you are aware of your obligations. As well as paying your rent on time, it might include things you hadn’t thought about, like maintaining a garden at the property, or not smoking indoors. Failure to do these things can break the terms of the tenancy, putting you at risk of potential eviction.

4. Your landlord/agent must provide you with…

Proof your deposit is protected in one of three governmentapproved schemes
– An Energy Performance Certificate for your home
– A copy of the government guide How to rent
– A Gas Safety Certificate (If there is gas in your property)

Check it out.

An inventory is a fair way for both parties to agree the condition and contents of the property at the beginning of the tenancy. This should avoid any doubt and potential disputes in the future.

Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive NALS says: “You might have heard horror stories about renting as a student, but to reassure you, these really are in the minority. If you do your research and ensure you are using a reputable agent, or landlord, you’ll be treated properly and will find the right accommodation.

“There are lots of protections in place for renters these days too, so make sure you’re aware of what your rights are, but also what responsibilities you have. Most of all enjoy the freedom of your first place away from home!”

List of useful contacts for first time renter:

DirectGov – www.direct.gov.uk
The official UK Government website for citizens.

– Citizens Advice – www.citizensadvice.org.uk
CAB offers help and advice on everyone’s rights and responsibilities.

– Shelter – www.shelter.org.uk
A housing charity offering advice on homelessness and housing issues.

– The Property Ombudsman Scheme – www.tpos.co.uk
An adjudication mechanism for dealing with complaints about estate and letting agents.

– Ombudsman Services Property – www.ombudsman-services.org
An adjudication mechanism for dealing with complaints about estate and letting agents.

– Property Redress Scheme – www.theprs.co.uk
An adjudication mechanism for dealing with complaints about lettings and property management agents.

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