Most of us only think about these things in the event that something goes wrong but being financially savvy means knowing exactly where you stand so you can be prepared for any fix-ups that might come your way. In this article, we’ll take a look at landlords and their student tenants, and their rights and responsibilities to one another, so you can be sure to get that all-important deposit back.
Main responsibilities of landlords
It can seem like a big enough deal making sure the rent is organized every month, but what do you do if something breaks down in the house, or you notice some repairs or maintenance are needed? Luckily, your landlord has clear responsibilities: they need to ensure the house they are renting is structurally sound from the exterior, that it is safe and in good repair, and that there is gas, hot water and electricity.
The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 outlines clear guidance on what your landlord’s responsibilities are if you fancy a bit of light reading. There will also be information in the rental agreement you signed with them and your rental agency. Generally, landlords are responsible for the big things: gutters and drains, sanitation, fittings and fixtures, and anything involved in the heating of the home or with water. They are not obliged to pay for repairs after accidents like floods or fires, improvements, or fixing anything that belongs to the lessee and can be taken away when the lease period is over – intense, right?
Main responsibilities of students
While the landlord is responsible for the big things and the household exterior, the renter is largely responsible for daily maintenance of the house, i.e., cleaning. Some letting agents keep track of the condition of the property by keeping detailed inventories or doing routine inspections throughout the year, so it might be time to dust off those rubber gloves sometime soon!
It’s the student’s responsibility to inform the landlord of any damage or breakages in a timely manner, especially if they pose a health and safety risk. Depending on their contract, students are also responsible for providing their own furnishings, decorations and things like shower curtains or light bulbs.
Which bills are tenants responsible for?
Naturally, one of the student tenant’s main responsibilities is to make sure that rent and utility bills are paid on time. Usually, the renter is required to pay electricity/energy, gas, broadband, TV licenses and council tax. Water is most often paid by the landlord, but this can vary, so it’s worth clarifying with your landlord before you move in.
Typically, in shared student housing, there is a lead tenant who is primarily in charge of collecting monies from all students to then settle utility bills. This can be done using a joint bank account or more easily via a bill splitting app like Glide, which combines all separate utility bills into one and makes sure everyone pays their share. Bills for routine maintenance and repairs – for example to fix a broken boiler or clean roof shingles – are for the landlord’s account.
How can landlords avoid blame of unpaid bills?
Most disagreements and confusions can be avoided by taking the time to clearly understand the rules beforehand. The tenancy agreement is essential in this regard, and outlines everyone’s respective roles. Whether you are landlord or tenant, careful records need to be kept of what has been paid, by whom, and when. It’s also important to keep the tenancy agreement itself updated, as well as notify the council of any relevant changes to the occupancy at that property.
At what stage is a landlord responsible?
Sometimes, disputes arise because tenants and landlords mutually but mistakenly assume the other one is responsible. A student failing to pay a bill they’re accountable for can cause difficulties, but ultimately, it is the landlord’s duty to check the status of their tenants and determine whether the student is actually exempt from paying the bill, entirely or in part.
Council tax can be a tricky area to navigate, but as is always the case, carefully drafted legal documents can protect both parties. As a student, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and ensure that you’re 100% informed on what you are and are not liable for. If you’re unsure, contact your rental agency, landlord or university accommodation director. You could also seek help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Whether you are renting alone or sharing a property with other students, it’s important that everyone is on the same page. Students should be jointly responsible for cleaning and general household maintenance, and everyone should understand clearly what utility bills they need to pay, and when.