Landlords and Estate Agents
Your student years can be both wonderful and expensive. The last thing you want to worry about is extra expenditure by compromising your cash deposit. If you’re going into rented accommodation, read our guide to make sure you don’t get caught out.
Landlord vs letting agent
A letting agent acts as the middle man between you and your landlord. A landlord has to pay fees to the agent so going through an agent can sometimes mean you get less house for your money. Going direct to a private landlord and cutting out the middle man is likely to get you a better deal. Letting agents, however, can mediate any disputes that may occur and are sometimes easier to reach than landlords if a problem arises.
You should ask your student union for advice. They often have lists of landlords and estate agents with whom they have worked and who have dealt well or badly with previous students. It is also a good idea to do a quick internet check to see whether anyone is reporting having had a particularly good or bad experience.
Meeting the landlord
Before you sign anything, make sure you ask who is responsible for looking after each element of the accommodation. This will help you to clarify where the landlord’s responsibility ends and yours begins. It will also help establish you to the landlord as someone who is on top of matters of detail.
Registering your deposit
Your deposit will usually be 6-8 weeks rent. It’s a legal requirement for your landlord to register your deposit, usually with one of the following three agencies: Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or The Dispute Service. This should be stipulated in your contract, so check with your landlord when you receive it.
If you do decide to sign on the dotted line, make sure you also do a full inventory (including photos of any damage) so you can’t be held responsible for it at a later date. It’s also worth checking what percentage of the deposit is likely to be held back for general wear and tear.
If there are problems
Under the law, you can only get your deposit back under the terms of your contract, that’s why it’s so important to go through it properly. If you think your landlord is holding too much money back, ask them to walk you around the house and show you what needs to be done. Try to resolve it between you and keep it civil. If this doesn’t work, write them a formal letter. If you don’t get a satisfactory response, take your case to the Citizens Advice Bureau for some free, impartial legal advice.