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Assured Shorthold Tenancy For Student Accommodation & Housing
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Assured Shorthold Tenancy For Student Accommodation & Housing

Written by Sam | May 7, 2018

Most students who rent from a private landlord are assured shorthold tenants (AST). You automatically have an assured shorthold tenancy if:

  • Your tenancy started on or after 28 February 1997,
  • You pay rent to a private landlord,
  • You don’t share any accommodation with your landlord.

These are the names of the commonest forms of arrangement for the renting of houses and flats by private tenants. In their current form, they were introduced by the Housing Act 1988 but important changes were made by the Housing Act 1996 with effect from 28 February 1997.

In the legislation, the term “assured tenancy” covers both assured tenancies (sometimes called “full” or “ordinary” assured tenancies) and assured shorthold tenancies.

Nearly all student accommodation is covered by an AST for a period of 44 or 51 weeks to a student. It means that instead of renting the whole house to a groups of students on an AST, the individually get students to sign their own contracts, being responsible for their room and communal areas.

If you rent a household privately, you will also have an AST for the house rather than just the room you are living in!

If you live in student accommodation, where you have your own kitchen and bathroom, you will be responsible for everything compared to in a house where the responsibility is shared/ See the difference in the types of student accommodation.

Information about your tenancy as student

You have a right to a statement of the main terms of your tenancy. This includes the date it began, the rent due and when it must be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.

You should be given a copy of the tenancy agreement before you move in, and it would normally include this information, but if it doesn’t, you can ask for it in writing and your landlord must respond within 28 days.

It’s always a good idea to ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement and to check it carefully before you sign it. Some contracts will have specific clauses in, like if a member leaves the others are responsible for rent, what deposits will be used for and how the cost will be split.

These are the most common we see and they can catch a lot of students out because they have signed a group tenancy rather than individual and that when something gets damaged but wasn’t your fault, the deposit is likely to be split unless someone owns up!

Your landlord’s name and address

Your landlord must provide a name and address in England or Wales where you can write to them. This is just in case anything goes wrong, you have a correspondence address. Most of the time, they will have an agent’s store!

Living in your home undisturbed

You have the right to enjoy your home. This means that your landlord doesn’t have the right to enter your home unless you invite them in. It is against the law for your landlord to harass you or illegally evict you. Some landlords don’t mind a messy home, as long as nothing is getting damaged and it doesn’t have an impact on the house. However, if you start leaving litter and rubbish and that attracts rats, then that can be considered your fault as you have caused that to happen!

Your landlord or their agent does have the right to access your home to check any repair work needed and to carry out the repairs. Unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing.

The main time this happens is when they are having viewings for the houses, they can ring and ask you to see if they can come round, a lot of the time landlords might now know when the viewings will crop up and will always ring just to make sure!

Repairs and safety in your home

You have the right to have repairs done. Your landlord is responsible for doing most repairs except very minor things, such as changing lightbulbs. You should report any repairs to your landlord as soon as you notice them.

Your landlord also has certain responsibilities for gas and electrical safety, furnishings and asbestos. You should get a copy of your gas certificate and electrical report as you sign the agreement. In terms of asbestos, you might get an asbestos survey but they aren’t required, to avoid this, don’t make any repairs/ yourself.

Repairs are categorised in terms of urgency and goes something like;

  • Emergency
  • 3 Days
  • 20 Days

They won’t be the exact dates and scales however, emergency means it has to be within 24 hours and then other repairs can fall in order of priority. If a door handle is loose, they will fix it, but it might not be on the top of their list as they have other emergencies they have to fulfill.

Evictions – They can happen. Make sure they don’t

Your landlord can only evict you by serving notice and getting a possession order from the court. You have the right to stay in your home until the court bailiffs enforce that order and evict you. However, you may have to pay some of your landlord’s legal costs if you do stay on after the notice has expired.

Your responsibilities as the tenant:

Paying the rent

Standard. You must pay your rent otherwise your landlord can take legal action to evict you. Your tenancy agreement will normally state how much the rent is, what it includes, to whom it should be paid when it should be paid, and how it can be increased. It may also detail a deposit, to get more facts on deposits our deposits article.

If you pay your rent weekly, your landlord must give you a rent book. If you don’t pay weekly and don’t have a rent book, it’s best to keep proof of your rent payments.

Many landlords and letting agents now ask for money in line with the term of the university and loan dates. This is because they know that they will be getting money in the bank and can ask for the term in advance so that you don’t spend it on other things and can’t afford rent.

Looking after your home

You must use your home in a tenant-like way. This generally means:

  • doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing lightbulbs
  • keeping your home reasonably clean
  • not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t
  • using any fixtures and fittings properly.

Your tenancy agreement may also set out what your responsibilities are for repairs, be clear on these. Also remember if you fail to report it, they can’t repair it. But if that minor damage goes on to create more damage, you can be liable for that excess damage. To know more about that plus, what constitutes wear and tear read more in our article titled ‘Damage’.

Repairs

Reporting repairs is often a condition of your tenancy agreement, so you may be obliged to report any problems even if they seem quite small or if you’re not too concerned about getting them fixed.

You must give your landlord access to your home to carry out repairs and gas safety checks.

The tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement may set out other obligations which you must keep to, for example, whether pets are allowed in your home. However, in line with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, your tenancy must not contain any terms which could be held to be unfair. A term may be unfair if it creates a ‘significant imbalance’ between you and your landlord. If you think it does, please seek advice from the Citizen Advice online.

Further Reading

Some more articles that might help

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