If you’re planning to rent in the future, or are currently renting privately either in Ormskirk or further afield, this webpage offers some useful tips to help you make the right choice.
- Allow yourself plenty of time – don’t take the first house you see.
- Be patient. Don’t let your fellow house-hunters rush you just because they don’t want to look anymore.
- Ensure you have a clear understanding of the contract you are about to sign, particularly with regard to rent, bills, deposit and whether there is a summer retainer.
- Ensure you view the property first before you sign a contract.
- Make sure you get a copy of the contract after you have signed it.
Here’s a short video by the NUS which has some key information about renting privately. Take a look at their Ready to Rent YouTube playlist for more tips and advice.
Finding Your Place
All registered vacancies with the University are now available on the Off-Campus Accommodation Finder (accessible through the Student Homepage).
It is important to not panic into signing for the first property you see and to take time to evaluate all your options before committing to any contracts/agreements.
In order to register with us, landlords must supply the Accommodation team with a current registration form, a valid gas safety certificate, and a copy of their contract.
Contracts, Deposits and Rents
Types of contract
In the private sector, you will come across different types of contracts. The main types of contract are:
- Shorthold tenancy agreement (individual contract for a fixed term period).
- Joint shorthold tenancy agreement (joint contract between all tenants for a fixed term period).
You should clarify with your landlord what type of contract they use for their property.
Please note that the University only registers properties that use an individual shorthold tenancy agreement rather than a joint tenancy. Joint tenancies usually mean that all tenants are liable for rent as a group rather than individually. This can create problems if one tenant was to withdraw from the contract, as the remaining tenants would be liable for the withdrawn tenant’s rent.
For more information on contracts, please visit the Shelter website.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes
Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes guarantee that tenants will get their deposits back at the end of the tenancy, if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement and do not damage the property. Landlords must protect their tenants’ deposits using a TDP scheme if they have let the property on an assured shorthold tenancy which started on or after 6 April 2007. If these conditions do not apply – for example, if the landlord lives in the property with the tenants – the landlord does not have to protect tenants’ deposits.
Landlords or agents must use one of the three approved TDP schemes to protect tenants’ deposits where these conditions apply. If any other scheme is used, deposits are not protected in law. The three approved schemes are:
- Deposit Protection Service (DPS): depositprotection.com
- MyDeposits: mydeposits.co.uk
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme: tenancydepositscheme.com
If a landlord fails to protect your deposit, they can be taken to court and made to repay your deposit plus between one and three times the amount of your deposit. Within thirty days of paying your deposit, your landlord must provide you with this information:
- The contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme.
- The contact details of the landlord or agent.
- The address of the rented property and the amount of deposit paid.
- Name and contact details of any third party that has paid the deposit.
- Items or services covered by the deposit.
- The circumstances under which the landlord will be able to retain some or all of the deposit.
- What to do if there is a dispute over how much deposit should be returned.
- Your deposit should be paid back within ten days of the end of your tenancy.
If you break the terms of the tenancy agreement you and the landlord should agree on how much should be deducted from the deposit. If you are unhappy with the amount the landlord wants to deduct from the deposit or the landlord/agent refuses to engage in the deposit return process, you are entitled to raise the issue with the relevant tenancy deposit scheme.
For more information visit gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview.
As part of their contract, most landlords will ask for a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who agrees to vouch for a tenant’s ability to guarantee payment of all rent, as well as any damage that the tenant may cause. Should the tenant default on rent payments and/or fail to pay for any damage caused to the landlord’s property, the landlord may proceed against the guarantor for payment to be made.
The University are not able to act as a guarantor for any registered student.
Your landlord may ask for a summer retainer to reserve your room for you over the summer. It does not mean you can occupy the property unless otherwise agreed by your landlord. As a rule, retainers are not returnable and do not constitute payment of rent. They are usually half rent over the number of weeks prior to occupancy.
Rents & Bills
Make sure that you are clear as to how much your weekly rent is and if a deposit is payable. Your contract should state the total amount due over the course of the fixed term and how much is payable on which dates.
Landlords usually ask for rent to be paid in three instalments in September, January or April to coincide with student loan payments. However, most are flexible in altering the dates to suit your financial situation. Always retain proof of payments.
It is important to carefully budget and plan your finances throughout the year so that you can be certain of covering your rent payments. You can access advice and support by contacting the Money Advice Team via CatalystEnquiries@edgehill.ac.uk.
You can also visit the team’s webpages at edgehill.ac.uk/moneyadvice for lots more information and advice.
Seen the perfect student house to share with your friends or recently signed up? Double-check you can afford it. Give the Save the Student Rent Calculator a try.
Don’t forget to add your travel costs into your budget when comparing properties. Use Traveline to explore public transport routes and check the transport provider to see if there are offers, discounts and deals available.
Does your housemate have a car? Check your timetables to see if you could share the cost. You can also guarantee a parking space on campus (if two or more people have valid Edge Hill parking permits) when you book a place using the University’s car share scheme. Find out more on the MyFM website.
Tenant Fees Act 2019
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 applies to new or renewed tenancy agreements from 1 June 2019 and bans most letting fees/caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants for private sector accommodation.
However, a landlord can still charge the following permitted payments:
- Payment to change an accommodation contract
- Payment associated with early termination of an accommodation contract
- Payment for utilities, communication services, TV Licence, and council tax (if you are not a full-time student)
- Default for late payment of rent/replacement key
- Refundable tenancy deposit
Please see here for guidance for landlords/letting agents.
Repairs and Maintenance
When reporting faults, it is a good idea to confirm any requests to your landlord via email or other written communication (text or letter).
Make sure that you clearly state the issue and ask that it is resolved within a reasonable period. If the issue is not resolved within the specified period, it is advisable that you send a formal signed letter.
It is a good idea to keep a copy of all emails, letters or other correspondence so that, if required, you can provide evidence that you have raised issues to your landlord. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are legally bound to keep the structure and exterior of the house in repair and in proper working order.
- Installation of water, gas and electricity supplies.
- Repairs to the roof, floor, walls and windows.
- Upkeep of the gutters, pipes and drains.
- Repairs of plumbing and sanitary convenience, i.e. baths, showers, toilets, sinks.
- Repair of electrical wiring, gas plumbing, fixed heaters, central heating and water heaters.
- Repair of window frames, internal doors and glass frames.
- Repairs to the bath, basins, boiler and pipework.
In addition, landlords are expected to keep their property up to a standard fit for human habitation. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities have the legal power to take court action against any landlord who provides poor living conditions.
Damp and Mould
Tenants often mistake a case of bad condensation for damp. Condensation will form readily in the winter months when it is cold outside but it is rarely a sign of an underlying damp issue and, unless left for a long period, will not provide harmful to health or do damage to the structure of the house.
If you do notice moisture forming on walls or windows, it is likely to be caused by condensation. There are measures you can take to decrease the prevalence of condensation, including:
- Ensuring that the heating is kept on when it is cold.
- Ensuring that there is adequate ventilation of the property by regularly opening windows to allow air to circulate.
- Not drying washing inside the house.
In some cases, moisture in the property can be an indication that there is a more serious problem and that damp is getting into the structure of the building. In such cases, it is important that you make your landlord aware so that steps can be taken.
For more information about condensation and damp, take a look at the Damp and Mould Guide.
Your landlord has a responsibility for ensuring that your home is a safe and comfortable living environment.
If you are concerned that the landlord is not meeting their contractual obligations or if a problem develops that needs addressing, it is important that you highlight your concerns to your landlord as soon as possible. The best way to do this is by outlining the issue in an email or letter. This allows you to keep a record of correspondence and means you can refer back to a previous communication if needed.
You can contact the Environmental Health section at West Lancashire Borough Council if you feel that the situation requires their intervention (westlancs.gov.uk).
The chances of fire occurring are higher if you live in a shared student house. It is important that you make fire safety a priority when you move into your house off campus. Your landlord has a responsibility to ensure that the premises comply with fire safety legislation but it is a good idea to check that these basic points are being met:
- Smoke detectors: Ensure the property has mains wired or wireless smoke detectors and ask the landlord to carry out a test demonstration for you.
- Fire blankets: These are particularly important in shared kitchens, so make a point of checking that one is present.
- Gas appliances: It is a legal requirement that gas appliances are 100% safe and this must be proven annually by a professional inspection – ask to see the gas safety certificate.
- Carbon monoxide: While not strictly a fire safety issue, a landlord must ensure that carbon monoxide detectors have been fitted in areas containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire or wood burning stove). Even if the boiler has been safety checked things can sometimes go wrong – and leaking carbon monoxide poses a real threat to life – for more information – Carbon Monoxide Regulations.
- Plugs and wiring: Make sure that there are no trailing or exposed wires anywhere as they could potentially spark and cause an electrical fire. Also check that plug sockets are not excessively overloaded and that the sockets themselves are not cracked or loose – faulty electrics cause over 7000 house fires a year.
- Fireproof furnishings: When looking for a student house you will usually require it to be ready furnished. Make sure that the furnishings provided are fire resistant. Check this with the landlord.
- Escape route: The first thing you should do when you move into a new house is to make sure the escape route is pre-planned and everybody knows what it is. Have a phone available to call the Fire Service and your keys accessible so you can open the exits. Think about where a fire would be most likely to start and plan the escape route around that; make sure large objects like bicycles don’t end up blocking the planned escape route.
- Prevention and planning: Day-to-day fire safety is crucial, so regularly check your fire alarms, avoid using candles indoors, and close all interior doors during the night.
Please also read government advice about how you can protect yourself and your belongings from fire.
Legal Advice and Complaints
The Department of Law at Edge Hill University have free legal advice sessions available to all students and staff.
For more information, please visit edgehill.ac.uk/law/about/law-clinic.
Please note that the University are not able to represent students in legal matters, however we are able to act as an advisory body within our competency.
For other information, students are advised to book an appointment with the Edge Hill Students’ Union Advice Centre.
As the University does not have any legislative powers, you should report any malpractice in the private sector to the Private Sector Housing Team at West Lancashire Borough Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be able to advise you further.
Living Off Campus
Find out more about living in the community (such as staying safe, being a good neighbour, and sharing the cost of things) on our Living Off Campus webpages.