Information about Private Renting
Many students opt to live in shared rental accommodation with friends or other students during their time at ICMP. This is often the most cost-effective form of student accommodation. From there, you can either find a room in a pre-existing shared house or meet other new students looking to secure accommodation.
One of the most rewarding experiences of being a student is communal living, which comes with shared duties and responsibilities and requires flexibility. Invaluable lessons can be learned from your first experience of house-sharing, and these will no doubt influence the decisions you make about your living arrangements in the future. We've put together useful information to help prepare you as best as we can. Check out the useful guide below or navigate our page to find out more.
Cost & Types of Accommodation
The first thing you have to decide is whether you are going to live:
- by yourself in a flat
- within halls of residence style accommodation
- as part of a group of students in shared accommodation, or
- in a room in a householder's dwelling
Prices for a room or studio flat in the borough of Brent average out at £625 and £910 per month respectively. The cost of rent can vary greatly according to the standard of accommodation, the area, local transport links and proximity from central London. To keep expenses down, many students take advantage of the city's great transport links and opt to live further afield
The other alternative is to live in lodgings. This means sharing a house or flat with the householder and possibly their family. Advantages may include meals, utility bills, and laundry, but be aware that householders in lodgings can impose their own rules, for example, restrictions on coming home late or having visitors.
You should start your search for accommodation from mid-July, early August at the latest ideally.
Viewing a Property
It is important to view potential accommodation options in person, to ensure you find out all you need to know we suggest taking along a checklist. Save The Student has a great checklist template you can download below.
Check out their page with a bunch of valuable advice regarding the house viewing process.
Important things to consider:
Always view a property in person before signing a contract - photographs are not a substitute for visiting a place and seeing everything for yourself.
It may be useful to take notes and photographs while you are there, particularly if you are viewing multiple properties. If there are significant repairs to be made, or you ask for certain items to be supplied (eg, security lighting), not all landlords will be prepared to carry them out. In most cases, you simply take the property 'as seen'. It is for you to decide if the property suits you, don't feel pressured into agreeing to anywhere you're not sure about.
1. Your safety
- View a property with a friend or at least let someone know where you are going
- Check the safety of the property - look for locks and safety certificates
2. Your checklist
You'll probably view a lot of properties in a short space of time, take good notes about each one to help you make your decision. Use Save The Students checklist.
Ask if you can take photos of the property - if it is still being lived in you may not be able to
- Make a list of questions to ask the agent and landlord for each property you visit. Consider asking things like "do you know what the average electricity or gas bill costs?" or "what references are required?"
4. Take notes
- Take notes of anything the agent or landlord says in regards to repairs or providing furniture, and get these included in the contract before you sign it
Some landlords or agents are using different methods of viewings to showcase their properties. These include 360-degree tours, live video tours via WhatsApp, FaceTime, or Skype. Whilst this goes some way to showing you a property, this is not a substitute for the real thing. We would strongly advise caution against paying a holding deposit or signing a contract for a property you have not actually seen in person.
Top tip: Make sure you get any verbal promises in writing; your contract needs to have explicit terms (written in it).
London has the highest rental prices in the UK. The cost of rent can vary greatly according to the standard of accommodation, the area, local transport links and proximity to central London.
The majority of our students look for accommodation local to ICMP, choosing to share houses with other ICMP students. We organise a number of house-sharing events to not only help you find a property, but also assist you with your search for friends to live with. These events are open to any new students arriving in September, as well as current students returning for their second or third years.
We invite a select group of trusted local letting agents to our house-sharing events to present their latest student accommodation options. Alongside these agents, we also invite local housing advice organisations who are present to support, educate and inform students of their rights as tenants.
Along with our house-sharing events, our students also turn to our ‘ICMP house-hunting’ Facebook group, and a more general student forum – these tend to be the first port of call for ICMP students looking for rooms or housemates.
Here is a list of other useful links to connect with potential housemates and find available accommodation:
Local Estate Agents
Deposits are returnable in full when you leave the accommodation unless the householder makes a justifiable deduction for damages or rent arrears. Most householders request a deposit in advance of a tenant moving into the property – usually the equivalent of four to six weeks' rent. Landlords require this to cover themselves against damage to property, rent arrears, and/or the possibility that you will leave outstanding bills or without adequate notice.
Landlords and rental agencies sometimes charge potential tenants a holding deposit, which is supposed to ensure that you're the only person being considered for renting a certain property. Landlords/agents should stop marketing the property once you have paid the holding deposit. However:
- this does not mean other agencies are not advertising the property on behalf of the landlord
- this does not guarantee you a rental contract
- you could lose your money if you decide not to rent the property
When paying a holding deposit, always make sure you:
- read and understand the terms and conditions
- keep a copy of the terms and conditions for your records
- get a receipt with all the details
Deposit protection scheme
A landlord must provide evidence that a deposit has been protected within 14 days of receiving it. If you pay a deposit for an assured short-hold tenancy (the most common form of contract) to a householder or letting agent, this deposit must be protected through a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This means your deposit money has to be given to an independent organisation for safe-keeping during your tenancy. For further information about deposit protection, please see the gov.uk website.
If any disputes do arise between you and your landlord/letting agent at the end of your tenancy, an Alternative Dispute Resolution service (ADR) will be in place to mediate.
Reclaiming your deposit
At the end of a tenancy, once you and your landlord have agreed how much is to be paid back, it must be paid back within 10 days.
If there is any dispute between you and your landlord, then you must both agree to use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service and to be bound by its decision with no recourse to the courts. Courts will only be involved in disputes if one party doesn't agree to use the ADR service.
Before you hand over your deposit, it's important to get an inventory of which items are in the accommodation and its general condition, to avoid any disputes later on. If possible, get the householder to agree a written list with you. If this isn't possible, make a note of the condition yourself and take photos of any scratched surfaces, marked walls, torn carpets, stained tables etc, which are already there.
Before moving out, it's always a good idea to thoroughly clean and tidy up your accommodation. That way, when the householder comes around to inspect, you'll be presenting the property in a state which demonstrates that you've been a considerate tenant. Landlords/agents may charge for professional cleaning if the accommodation is left in a mess. They will usually deduct the cost of this from your deposit; if they do, ask for a receipt to ensure you're charged the right amount.
Paying bills can sometimes cause friction between people living communally, which is why it's important to set out clearly how each bill is going to be paid (whether by cheque, online, direct debit etc) and who is going to take responsibility for it. If there are a number of tenants sharing, it may be an idea to allocate payment responsibility of one bill each. If using direct debit, it may be a good idea to set up a separate bank account for bills.
A very useful tool to use is: Split The Bills | Shared Student Utility & House Bills
Your property is ‘exempt’ from council tax if it’s only occupied by full-time university or college students. Student halls of residence are automatically exempt.
If your property isn’t exempt, some people, including full-time students, are ‘disregarded’. This means the council tax is calculated as if you don’t live there. This might mean that whoever does have to pay the council tax can get a discount.
For further information on council tax exemption click here: Citizens Advice Bureau
Important Legislation to Consider
When moving into a shared house, you will generally be required to sign a joint tenancy. Under a joint tenancy, you are all jointly and severally liable for the rent. This means that the rent must be paid by all of you as if you were one person. If someone moves out they should continue to pay their share of the rent until their name is replaced on the tenancy. However, if they don't, the remaining tenants will have to make up the shortfall until a replacement is found. You can't tell the landlord that you're only paying your share, as the landlord is entitled to ask for the whole amount, regardless of who's living there.
A guarantor is someone (usually a parent or guardian) who contractually agrees to pay your rent if you fail to do so. There is a legal requirement for a guarantor agreement to be in writing. In many cases, a guarantor agreement also extends to other conditions under the tenancy - for example, any damage caused to the property.
If you don’t pay your landlord what you owe them, they can ask your guarantor to pay instead. If your guarantor doesn’t pay, your landlord can take them to court. The agreement sets out the guarantor's legal obligations.
Your landlord might want to check your guarantor is able to pay the rent in the same way they've checked your ability to pay. For example, by carrying out a credit check.
For further information click here: Citizens Advice Bureau
If you have a television in your home, you'll need to get a TV licence to cover it. Your parents' licence will not be sufficient. For details, please visit the TV Licensing website.
Your landlord must insure the building you're renting, but this only covers the structure – not the contents. It is your responsibility to insure your possessions against theft, damage and accidents. Your parents might be able to extend their insurance policy to include your possessions, which would reduce the overall premium (annual cost of insurance) which you'll have to pay. There are two types of insurance available:
- old for new
It's important to remember that insurance companies will only pay out up to the amount of insurance you purchased from them. If you under-insure (pay less than the figure they set to cover the items you valued and listed in your original cover policy) then the company will only pay out an equivalent percentage of your losses.
It's always best to compare the best contents insurance deals online, using comparison sites such as Compare Cheap Home Insurance Quotes | MoneySuperMarket
Before you insure your goods, it's important to get them valued. Remember to keep receipts when you buy expensive items.
Rogue landlords and avoiding rental scams
All London councils have agreed to participate in a Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker, which contains information about private landlords and letting agents who have been prosecuted or fined.
Top tips from Unipol on avoiding rental scams
There are several independent services that will be able to provide support on your rights and responsibility in private rented accommodation, this includes information on what happens if you are unable to pay your rent, and if you have any questions about your contract.
Guides from Gov.uk:
- Your rights and responsibilities when privately renting
- How to rent a safe home
- Tenancy deposit protection
- Housing Hand: Rent Guarantor Service
- Save the Student: Accommodation and Rent Calculator
- Shelter: Student advice
- Citizens Advice: Free legal advice
- Advice 4 Renters: Advice for issues with your property/landlord
- Toynbee Hall: Legal Advice