When you’re renting as a student, you tend to be on a slightly different schedule to other tenants. The long student holidays that many people are so envious of are a great time to work, to pre-study and basically to kick back and have some fun. But what do they mean for your renting experience?
Most landlords ask for 12-month contracts
Yes that’s right, your term might run for 9 months but if you want that bijou little student pad you’re after then you’re going to have to sign up for 12 months – and pay rent for the months when you’re not there. Make sure you factor that into your budget for the year and remember to give notice at the right time. Some landlords will offer a break clause that you can activate if you know you’re going to want to leave and others will agree to 9 months if you ask. What you can’t do is simply walk away at the end of the academic term as you will still be liable for the rent.
As with most tenancies, if you sublet to someone then you will be breaking the terms of the tenancy. Subletting is essentially where you become a landlord to someone else i.e. you are going away for the holidays so someone else comes to stay in your room and pays you the rent. There is a possibility that you might be able to sublet if your landlord agrees to it – to make sure there are no misunderstandings, get your subletting tenant to pay the rent direct to the landlord and get the landlord’s agreement in writing.
Student houses during the holidays are a prime target for burglars, especially those houses that are completely empty from the end of one term to the start of the next. If you have a burglar alarm then activate it before you leave. Check all the windows and doors are locked and don’t leave a key under the flowerpot. If there is damage from a break in and your actions made it possible (for example leaving the bathroom window open) then you might have to pay for it.
Some tenancy agreements require that the property isn’t left empty for more than a specific period of time – usually a month. This is obviously not practical for student houses where everyone is away for the summer but it’s a clause that might still be in your tenancy nevertheless. It will basically give the landlord the chance to charge you if there is damage as a result of the house being empty – for example, if leaves clog the gutters and cause a mini flood or the pipes freeze over and then burst. If you do spot a clause like this then try to get an exception for the period over the summer.
When you’re going away for the summer there are a few practical steps to take before you set off wherever you’re headed:
– Clear out the fridge and throw away consumables so that you don’t come back to rotting vegetables.
– Cancel any regular deliveries such as milk or newspapers.
– Many people shut off the water when going away for long periods of time.
– Consider buying a timer switch so lights come on automatically and it appears there is someone in.
– If you have a friend or neighbour nearby that you trust then let them know you’re going away and ask them to keep an eye on the property.