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Student Article - Don't let smiles fool you
Author: Kat Rae
Anyone considering signing a contract should read my story first. I wasn't too bothered about searching for a student house for my second year, but decided that commuting from home would loose me valuable sleeping time, so quite late in the year i searched for any rooms available in the vicinity of my uni. To my delight i found a room in a house 5 minutes away. Emailing the girl who advertised it i found out that her parents had bought the house as she didn't want to live in halls for her first year. I met her and we got on fine so i decided that i'd take the room. The day of the contract signing her parents were there; happy-go-lucky explaining they were easy-going and weren't the type of landlord that would pester us etc. I thought it was great. It was me and another girl (who was taking the 3rd room in the house) who were signing contracts. We read them and realised that the contracts were till June. We didn't need the rooms till that late so we explained that we'd be wanting to move out before June, in April or May. We were told this wasn't a problem, it didn't matter the contract said June, something would be sorted and to talk to them about it nearer the time, so i happily signed, pleased i'd been so lucky finding the place with such great people. It turns out it wasn't so great. The girl whose parents bought the house was pedantic and domineering, leaving notes around the house complaining about petty things, bringing people over to look at the rooms without telling us and then expecting us to open our rooms up to them and generally parading round like it was her house. Worse was to come when a family tradegy occured and i needed to move out. This is where it gets complicated. I don't consider myself to be stupid, not to any large degree anyway, but contacting the landlord i explained the situation and asked if i could give notice. The answer was "your situation is unfortunate but no", confused i said that at the contract signing we'd been told it would be fine to leave before, but the landlord told me that if i didn't like the length of the contract i had only myself to blame. I told him i wouldn't have signed if i hadn't been lead to believe i could leave before the end. To put it mildly i was upset, at the way i was spoken to, by the situation at home and because i had trusted that what they had said had been true. The short ending is that i can't do anything about it, the other girl refused to back me up, saying she was staying in stoke anyway so it didn't affect her, and in the end it would have been my word against the landlord's. I have to pay the rest of the contracted rent- 624, even now i'm leaving. He "graciously" let me off 24 after i asked him because i wouldn't be using the water (i've found out that he isn't charging 2 a week for water as he said, but 3, so his daughter, who doesn't pay rent, got her water paid for by us!) I was naive and i take responsibility for the fact that i was taken in by their smiles and reassurances, but those reassurances weren't on paper to be signed. The moral is, check your contracts, make sure theres a break clause, get everything written down, don't only take what the landlord tells you and leave it at that else if you need to leave early you'll end up in a situation like mine.
 

 
 
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