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Student Article - A guide to student accomodation
Author: Vimalkumar Panneerselvam
The renting process

You (or your group) will have to sign a tenancy agreement usually covering a period of one academic year. This is a legally binding document, making you liable to pay rent for the entire period, so be sure before signing it.

There will be administration costs charged by the estate agents, usually between 20 pounds?(approx Rs 1,500)?and 50 pounds (approx Rs 4,000) per person (so 80-200 pounds?for a group of four students). As part of the process they may ask you for a copy of your student status letter (which your university should be happy to provide you with) and a copy of an identification document (usually your passport).

It is hard to estimate what the rent is likely to be, as that is dependent on a wide range of factors such as location, type and quality of accommodation. For example, a four-bedroom house in Coventry may have a monthly rent of 800 pounds?(approx Rs 67,000), whereas a two-bedroom flat in Cambridge could cost the same.

You will also have to pay a security deposit, usually in the range of a month's or a month-and-a-half's rent on the entire property (eg 800-1,200 pounds?for an 800 pound-per-month property between four students). This will be refundable at the end of your tenancy subject to the property being in the same condition as it was when you moved in, so the onus is on you to keep the property in good condition.

Usually agents also collect the rent on behalf of the landlord, in which case they might ask you to set up a standing order on your bank account. This means that on a certain date (usually the first of every month), your share of the rent will be debited from your account and transferred to the agent's account.

Some properties are advertised inclusive of utility bills (gas, electricity, water) whilst most are advertised exclusive. You will have to find out from the agent who the providers are for the property and call them up to open an account in your name and give meter readings. This is often overlooked, but is an important part of the process. You don't want to get bills for periods you've never lived in the property, do you? Make sure to call them again, give meter readings and close the accounts when you move out.

As far as council tax is concerned, full-time students are exempt.

Other issues

I would advise Indian students to spend an extra ? (approx Rs 800-Rs 1,000) a month and purchase tenants' contents insurance from a reputable broker. This is because student properties are often targeted by burglars and it is better to insure your valuable possessions.

Quite frankly, the police is usually unable to catch the burglars let alone recover the stolen goods, but you will need to report such incidents to the police to obtain a crime number which will be needed to process your insurance claim.

It is important to recognise that estate agents are salesmen, and will invariably talk up the property. It is therefore up to you (and your friends) to ensure that you have looked at a range of properties before making a decision, considering all relevant factors.

Often, some landlords get difficult about returning deposits in full and want to make deductions for damages that they attribute to you. It is advisable to keep photographs of the interiors of the property when you moved in and compare them to their condition when you move out to ensure that you have sufficient proof to claim a full refund of your deposit.

It is natural that during the year something might go wrong, for example, a leaking bath. Depending on the tenancy agreement, feel free to call the agent or the landlord. Sorting out regular wear and tear is part of the landlord's responsibility, and he is responsible for calling a contractor and rectifying the problem.

The whole process might appear like an ordeal, but it is also very exciting to live on your own for the very first time in a different country. There are plenty of things to keep in mind, but all being well it should be an exciting time.


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