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A Student's Guide to Renting

9 June 2020 Simon Banks Read time: 4 min
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Simon Banks

You're often reminded that student years were some of the best of your life, but that was only true if you had a great place to live. Fortunately, if you're currently a student, you can enjoy living in impressive digs while making the most of being away from home for the first time.

With our student's guide to renting, you won't need to worry about the process. Nor will you need to feel anxious about not finding a great place to live. We'll cover everything you need to know so that you can rent as a student with total confidence.

We've already covered loads about moving home with our ultimate guide to renting. But now we're focusing on the experience from a student's perspective.

So, read on and find out the details when it comes to renting a home, from how to find a place, what documentation you need, deposits and a few handy bits of information that will help you along the way.

Choosing your living arrangements

Living in halls of accommodation is fun; we get it. But there's nothing quite like having your own stylish place, even if you're sharing with a friend or two. Renting a home is the first step to independence, which means it's a super exciting time in the lives of students.

Interior of a modern apartment

Your budget will mostly depend on the type of place you live, but there are a few options out there. Student life is all about getting to know new people, and most students decide to share with one or two others.

If, however, you desire your own living quarters but still want to keep that sense of community, co-living spaces might be the answer. With a co-living space, you get your own room and bathroom, but other areas of the building are communal - such as a lounge area, kitchen and terrace.

Other living options include:

  • Renting from a private landlord by yourself
  • Renting a house share from a private landlord
  • Renting in a Build-to-Rent building, which is a renter-exclusive home

Finding a place

Once you've decided on the type of place you want to live in, you'll need to find it. Monthly rental budget will play a role in your decision, as will other aspects like proximity to transport and amenities and, of course, how far away the property is from your university.

If you're going to university in a big city like London or Manchester, distance to classes isn't so important. There's often convenient transport infrastructure that gets you around efficiently, even if you're further away from campus.

Don't leave your search until the just before term starts. Look for a place between six to eight weeks before your course begins. It's a busy period with plenty of students searching for accommodation, which means you may struggle to find somewhere if you leave it too late.

Start your search on Movebubble, and choose from 30,000-plus homes - including renter-friendly properties with Movebubble One. An in-app chat feature lets you talk with agents directly, and you can watch video walkthroughs if you can't (or just don't want to) view the property physically. 

Understanding your finances

Piggbank

Your rental budget is essential to finding the right place, but other financial aspects need taking into account. In addition to the monthly rental payment, you'll need to pay bills.

These include:

Mandatory

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Broadband connection (ok, it's not mandatory. But getting through uni without an internet connection might be tricky).

Optional

  • TV license
  • Digital TV and streaming subscriptions
  • Content insurance (highly recommended)

Some bills are included with renting, so it's essential to clarify what you will and won't need to pay for before moving in. Doing so will give you a clearer idea about your monthly budget in relation to your soon-to-be-new-home.

Getting your documentation ready

The paperwork is perhaps the most important component of renting a home. Without it, you won't be able to get the keys to your new place. Typically, renters go through referencing and credit checks to see if they're suitable to rent the property.

Students will still need to undertake the same process, but there might be tweaks here and there. It's harder to prove things like income and previous employment when you're a student. If you're a student renting, expect to provide:

  • Three months worth of bank statements
  • Confirmation of course enrolment and term time
  • Landlord reference if you're moving from halls to a property
  • Provide a character reference from a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, accountant if it's your first time renting.

You may also be required to provide a guarantor, especially if you have no previous renting credentials...

Using a guarantor

A guarantor takes on responsibility for another renter's debt under a contract. If for any reason you can't pay the rent, the guarantor will step in and take over. Guarantors will need to provide proof of ID, address, three month's bank statements and sign an official letter of guarantee.

Guarantor helping to secure a property

Signing the contract

Once the particulars are sorted, it's time to sign contracts. This is typically called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), which forms the basis of your rental agreement. It will detail the particulars of the rental, including:

  • The address and number of bedrooms
  • The amount of rent payable, the monthly, weekly or fortnightly payment date, and the approved methods of payment
  • The amount of deposit payable
  • The length of the tenancy, with start and end dates
  • Who is responsible for paying bills such as water, gas and council tax
  • Whether the house is furnished or unfurnished
  • The terms and conditions of the tenancy, such as keeping the property in good condition and not being a nuisance to the neighbours
  • Signatures from both the landlord and the renter

It's vital that you understand everything included in the AST and that you agree with it. You shouldn't sign anything unless you're completely happy with the terms being offered. If there's anything you're unsure about, ask the letting agent or landlord to clarify or ask someone to take a quick look before you sign. 

Deposits

You will need to pay deposits before moving in: a holding deposit to secure the property and possibly a security deposit. The holding deposit takes the home off the rental market and amounts to one week's worth of rent - though this is deducted from your first rental payment.

A security deposit is capped at five week's rent and will be returned once the tenancy is over, as long as you're not responsible for any damages to the property. In some cases, a security deposit isn't necessary either.

Zero deposit and deposit-free renting allow renters to move into their new homes without paying a hefty security deposit. It's up to the landlord whether or not they utilise zero deposit schemes. Fortunately, you can use Movebubble to search for deposit-free only properties on the app.

Moving in

Being a student has many stresses and joys, so it's good to minimise them by understanding everything there is to know about renting. With our tips, you'll be able to navigate your move like a superstar. All the particulars will be taken care of. Now all that's left to do is pick up the keys and move into your new student digs.

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