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Don't get caught out with student rentals

If you have children going to university this year then the costs of renting student accommodation can be a large financial outlay.  You may also be asked to stand as guarantors for your children’s obligations.

It can also prove expensive to have to cover the share of other students’ costs.  For example if they share a property with friends they’ll probably sign a ‘joint tenancy agreement’, making them jointly liable for any breaches of the rental contract, including damage to the property or rent arrears.

Also if one of their flatmates unexpectedly moves out, they may find themselves left to pay more than their usual share of the bills or rent.  This can be frustrating and students should fully understand what they are signing up to.  If they find themselves in this position they should speak to their landlord, and if possible the absent flatmate, to discuss any outstanding amounts owed and arrange for the flatmate to pay them directly to the landlord.

Before replacing a flatmate, they should speak to their landlord about the terms of the tenancy.  If the landlord is unwilling to allow a replacement, they may be able to seek redress for unfair contractual terms.

Another area that often causes disagreements is regarding the return of the rental deposit.  After the tenancy has ended the landlord may seek to use the deposit to pay for any losses or damage while they were living at the property, but not for fair amounts of wear and tear.

However if they have flatmates who enjoy holding wild parties they may find themselves paying for damage they have caused.  It is therefore as important for them to be happy with their choice of co-tenants as it is for the landlord or his agents to have carried out their checks.

If they feel their landlord is unfairly withholding their deposit at the end of their tenancy, contact them by letter and request the deposit back.

Ask for written reasons for the full deposit not being returned and keep all copies of correspondence, as they will need them if they decide to take legal action.

To discuss any dispute, contact Philip Grylls, head of the litigation team at Gullands at p.grylls@gullands.com.