Congratulations on finding a house for next year!
You made it through the numerous stresses, viewings and just have to get over the final hurdle - the contract...
We won't lie, it isn't the easiest thing in the world to sort out but we want to help you get it right. Look through this checklist and make sure you get sorted before signing anything:
- Have you taken your contract away with you?
The landlord/estate agent might encourage you to sign it there and then but you don't have to. In most cases, you have at least 24 hours to sign your contract so use this to take it home for a thorough read.
- What type of contract is it?
Most contracts in the UK have Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements and in Scotland are Short Assured Tenancy Agreements. Double check yours!
- Do you have a Deposit Protection Scheme?
The key is in the name - it prevents you losing your deposit if the landlord claims money for 'damages' that weren't your fault. If you don't have one, you really need to get one.
- When does your tenancy start and end?
It may seem obvious but sometimes they can start in August before you've started university and obviously that's not ideal.
- Is insurance included?
It isn't always included but it's a huge positive if it is! If your landlord/estate agent has mentioned this at all during viewings or other conversations, get it in writing.
- Do you have any estate agency fees?
Sometimes you'll have to pay an admin fee to them but this should be included in the contract so it's very clear how much you have to pay and when.
- Are repairs included?
Have you noticed things that need repairing, or have you been promised that certain things will be sorted before you move in? Get this in writing in your contract so that you (hopefully) have a smooth move-in process.
- Get. It. Checked.
You can ask your Accommodation Team at university, your Student Union or your parents. As your guarantor, they'll receive their own contract but get them to look through yours to see if there are any alarm bells or things they notice are missing.
If you don't trust your future housemates or would just prefer to have an extra peace of mind, we'd suggest getting individual contracts. This means you aren't responsible for your other tenants and won't lose your deposit over their actions, i.e. if they don't pay their rent or they damage their room.