Student renters – know your rights

Student renters – know your rights

Shelter has partnered with Nationwide Building Society to bring you our top tips for student renting.

Understanding your housing rights as a student is really important. Student housing shouldn’t be in poor condition and your landlord should follow the law no matter who you are as a tenant.

But a National Union of Students (NUS) survey found that fewer than half of students knew their rights as tenants or felt able to assert them. 

Nationwide Building Society has partnered with us to put together some tips to help you understand your housing rights and what you can do to protect yourself.

You have the same renting rights as everyone else 

There is no such thing as a ‘student tenancy’. If you live in a house and rent from a private landlord, you probably have what’s called an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) and that gives you the same rights as any other person with this type of tenancy. You probably don’t have this tenancy if you’re staying in halls. You can find out what type of tenancy you have and what rights that gives you by using Shelter’s tenancy rights checker.

Make sure you brush up on the rules around joint tenancies if you’re sharing with others.

Rent from a university accredited landlord 

Lots of universities run accreditation schemes for landlords. These schemes check if properties meet certain standards and have procedures to make sure repairs are done. They may even help sort out disputes you have with your landlord. 

Ask your Students’ Union if your uni runs a scheme like this or check your university’s website.

Don’t pay any fees you don’t have to 

Letting agent fees for things like protecting your deposit, credit checks, reference checks and other admin costs are banned.  

The NUS has found that some students have paid around £250 in agent fees or more.  

Check Shelter’s website to find out what fees are banned and don’t pay any you don’t have to. If you’re asked to pay, you can report the landlord or agent to trading standards.

Check your deposit is protected 

Your landlord or letting agent must protect your tenancy deposit in a government approved scheme.   

 Always make sure that your landlord or letting agent protects your deposit in one of the three government approved schemes. You can claim compensation if they don’t.  

Your landlord usually can’t evict you if they haven’t protected your deposit.

If your deposit has been protected but things still go wrong, you can use your scheme’s dispute resolution service – for example, if you and your landlord can’t agree on your deposit refund when you move out

Make sure you understand how deposits work in joint tenancies if you’re living with other students. If you replace another joint tenant, you should pay your share of the deposit to the landlord or agent, not to the outgoing tenant. Make sure the deposit is protected with a scheme and the amount is recorded on the tenancy agreement.

If you need to move, know your rights 

Students sometimes move around during the year, but it’s really important to do this properly so you don’t end up in a muddle when it comes to rent and tenancy deposits.

Find out how to end a fixed term tenancy legally if you need to move out. There are some risks if you don’t end a tenancy agreement properly

Where to get housing advice

Your student house should be a home. You don’t need to put up with poor housing. Always get advice if you need it.

You can check Shelter’s website to find explainers of the law and your rights, tools to help you understand your personal situation and templates to give you the words to say when you need to challenge your landlord.

Your Students’ Union Advice Centre will have plenty of experience dealing with student housing issues. Make use of it.

You can find out more about our partnership with Nationwide Building Society on our website.