So we thought we’d give you a helping hand so you know what to expect...
One of the most important things when studying (or generally in life) is to keep a roof over your head. Now this might sound pretty obvious, but you’ll be amazed at how many students each year do not budget accordingly. If you’re living in halls, your University may be flexible about when you pay your rent – in exceptionally mitigating circumstances – but if you’re living in private accommodation your landlord will not be so lenient.
Generally, a private landlord will require someone such as a parent or guardian to guarantee the lease on a property when renting to students. This means that if you fall behind on your rent, the name on the lease will be notified and will take responsibility for making the payments.
However, if there is no-one acting as a guarantor on your lease, then you alone will be responsible for the rent, which will be paid on a monthly basis to your landlord or to a letting agent. If you do fall behind on the payments, the landlord not only has a right to evict you, but also to take you to court for any backdated arrears (which may have an impact upon your credit rating in the future)!
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2) Damages and Repairs
As part of your rental agreement, the landlord or letting agency will be responsible for the general upkeep of the property. However, as the tenant, you will be expected to treat it with a certain level of respect. If damages occur to the property due to the neglect of the tenants (late night partying, not locking the door properly, etc) then landlords can charge for the costs of the repairs. They will either do this directly, or take it out of the deposit.
However, while there are many great landlords out there, there are also a few who will try and rip you off. When your tenancy starts, make sure you get a detailed inventory of the property so you aren’t charged for any damage that you didn’t cause.
3) Paying bills on time
Of course, while it is vital that you pay your rent on time, your bills are also equally crucial. Bills such as gas, electricity, water and internet may be included in your rent, but this is not the case for off-campus properties and those owned by private landlords.
Where there are multiple students living in the one privately owned property, it is important to remember that while you may all have a separate rental agreement, you are all accountable for making sure that you pay your bills, which can sometimes cause problems in households where one member is remiss with their budgeting. Even if you’ve paid your portion of what is owed (and you’re waiting for a pesky flatmate to stump up their share of the cash), you will not be debt free until the full amount has been settled.
The ideal way of dealing with bills is to open up a joint account and set up a monthly direct debit. However, this will only work if there is enough money in the account to begin with (so make sure everyone is paying in on time).
4) The TV Licence
Now when it comes to the TV licence, don’t listen to the people who tell you to ‘just risk it’. It’s only £145 for the year, and the fines for not having one if you’re caught are phenomenally high. If you’re living in halls, your communal TV may be covered (although you should check this in your rent agreement). If you have a separate TV in your room though, then you will need a separate license.
The same principles apply if you’re sharing a house with other people. If your accommodation is self-contained (you have access to your own washing facilities) then you will need a separate TV licence to watch programmes in your own personal space.
It is also worth noting that a TV licence is required if you want to watch any live streamed programmes – not just through the TV, but also on your laptop. If you only stream programmes AFTER they’ve been broadcast, however (using iplayer 4OD or ITV player), then you won’t need a TV licence.
5) Course costs
There may also be a few added costs to pursuing your course of study. Unlike school, your University will not give you free core textbooks, and you will be expected to purchase your own stationary and fund your own travel costs in and out of university.
Of course, there are many ways that you can reduce these costs. Most regions offer student travel discounts for those with an NUS card, and second hand book stores and sites such as Amazon are an amazing way of accessing resources at a lower cost (and there’s always the library, of course). Whatever you decide to do, though, make sure you budget accordingly and set aside enough money to cover the costs (as without these resources you may struggle to complete your course).
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