Housing advice

10 ways to breeze through your first tenancy

Waving goodbye to Student Halls and making your first venture into private rented accommodation? Heard some horror stories about rogue landlords and mouldy bathrooms? Help is at hand: between us at Shelter Scotland and SaveTheStudent.org there’s a wealth of tips on how to make sure it goes without a hitch. 

Hint: a clued-up tenant is a confident tenant! So read on… 

1. Make a checklist

It’s so easy to just go with the first flat that looks good, but don’t be tempted to jump in. Do you need space for a desk? Good storage? Parking? Make sure it fits your criteria before agreeing to take the lease. 

2. Read that contract!   

Don’t be tempted to skim the small print: it’ll tell you who is responsible for what, how much notice is needed to move out, whether wear & tear is allowed, and loads of other details that you will definitely need to know if you ever get into a dispute with your landlord or agency. 

3. Budget 

1 in 5 students claimed they’ve never budgeted, according to the 2017 Student Money Survey! But when your largest monthly expenditure is your rent, you need to make sure you can meet the costs or you might risk getting into rental arrears – which can lead to eviction. Make sure you can afford your flat. 

4.  Check your landlord does it by the book 

This means that by law they should be on the Scottish Landlord Register, and your deposit should be safeguarded in a Deposit Protection Scheme. If not, question them or look elsewhere.  

5. Pick a guarantor you trust 

Your guarantor is responsible for paying your rent if, for any unlikely reason, you can’t. Usually it ends up being your parents, but if that’s not an option, choose very wisely! 

6. Don’t neglect your inventory 

An accurate inventory means everyone’s totally clear on the contents (and condition) of the property before you move in. When you get the keys, remember to take a good look round, record any further faults and submit any changes in the first 7 days of your tenancy. 

7. Be an awesome housemate 

Clean up, be considerate, set ground rules, pay your share. These are the basics, but here are more tips for surviving shared living. 

8. Keep the place in good condition  

Parties are great fun until your landlord tries to claim any damage out of your deposit at the end of the lease. Keep this in mind when you have guests (or stick anything to the walls). 

9. Damp on the walls? Broken appliances? Report it 

65% of students say they’ve had to deal with serious accommodation issues.* But contrary to popular belief, lousy accommodation is not a “rite of passage”!  Damp, for instance, is actually dangerous to your health. Your landlord has a responsibility to keep your home habitable and safe, so if something’s wrong, report it straight away.  

Unsure how to approach it? Here’s some advice on reporting household repairs. 

10. Remember you’re not alone 

We know it can be like hiking through a jungle when it comes to managing your first tenancy (as well as juggling coursework), but there’s no need to keep quiet if you’re struggling or have concerns. Browse advice sites like Save The Student or consult Shelter Scotland’s housing advice to clear up any confusion. 

…Ready to conquer your first tenancy?  

  

*According to the 2017 National Student Accommodation Survey  

About the author

Jocasta Mann

Jocasta Mann

Jocasta is the Digital Content Producer for Shelter Scotland.