Rent and bills
Before you sign a contract or move into a property, make sure you know how much the rent is and how often it has to be paid (weekly, monthly, termly).
If you live in private rented accommodation, the average rent for a room in a shared student house ranges from £80-£100 per person, per week, not including bills. The latest "average" prices for properties can be found on the Studentpad website.
In addition to your rent, you will need to budget around £50-£60 a week per person for utility bills. It is important that you know what the rent includes (such as gas, electricity, water rates). If your bills are not included in your rent, it is important to know when these bills will come through to ensure you have enough money. Remember that bills will usually be higher in the winter months due to heating and having the lights on more, so ensure you're budgeting for this!
Top tips for renting private accommodation
- Think about your accommodation costs early. Most private landlords will require one month's rent as a deposit, and your first month's rent in advance (even if term hasn't started)
- Try to save over the summer as you won't receive your student loan until after you have registered at University
- Read your tenancy agreement carefully to see what your rent will actually cover. Are bills included? How much rent will you have to pay over the summer months?
- Try and negotiate having separate tenancy agreements for each member of the household - this way you will not be liable for someone else's rent if they move out but this is down to the landlord overall
- The quality of the accommodation and the proximity to the University can reflect the pricing - if the house is spacious and closer in proximity to the main campus, the price can be more expensive. However, there are also a good number of spacious properties at lower rental amounts towards the further, eastern side of Southsea, Fratton and near to university bus stops
- If possible, discuss how often you will pay your rent and request a method that works for you.' Your landlord will more than likely request that you pay your rent by standing order.
- Payments in cash are strongly discouraged. If for any reason you have to pay your rent in cash, ensure that you get a receipt for the payment. However you pay your rent, it is advisable that you have proof of payment. Evidence of payment can be vital in the event of a dispute.
Can my landlord increase my rent during tenancy?
If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), the landlord can only increase the rent if there is a specific clause in the agreement allowing them to do so.
It is important that you check for such a clause when signing an agreement. If there is no clause in your agreement, your landlord cannot increase the rent during the fixed term of your tenancy.
What if I am late with my payment?
If you are consistently late paying your rent, your landlord could issue proceedings against you for possession of the property. This happens if you are in arrears with your rent for eight weeks or more or you are persistently late paying your rent.
Some landlords may charge for late payments, this will be evident in your contract so ensure you check this.
What if I can't pay my rent?
You are legally obliged to pay rent to your landlord as specified in your tenancy agreement. Failure to do so may result in the landlord issuing possession proceedings against you and ultimately having you evicted. In the event that this occurs, the court may issue a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you for the debt (which you still have to pay).
If you are experiencing difficulties paying your rent, contact your landlord as soon as possible and explain your situation; they may be willing to come to a mutually convenient arrangement and definitely contact the Student Finance Centre for financial advice.
What if my landlord isn't accepting my rent?
As a tenant you must make every effort to pay your landlord. There may be reasons they are not accepting your rent such as they have changed their bank. Therefore, it is important that you communicate with your landlord in order to pay the rent.
As previously mentioned, if you are persistently late with your rent or are in arrears for eight or more weeks, then your landlord may be refusing it as they may be issuing proceedings against you.
Can I withhold my last rent in case my landlord keeps my deposit?
No. As a tenant you have no right to withhold your rent from your landlord. Check your tenancy agreement - many contracts contain clauses forbidding you from offsetting rent against deposit and your landlord may issue a claim against you for the outstanding money.'
Generally, your landlord will make a claim against your deposit to cover any rent arrears or if you do not pay your last month's rent. This is usually why your deposit will be a similar amount to your monthly rent.
For more information on house hunting, see the articles in the box below.