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Ericthelobster
07-11-2009, 10:47 AM
For once I'm making an enquiry from a tenant's viewpoint, not the landlord's!

My daughter has just started uni, and is already running around with friends looking for a student house for next academic year, ie in 11 months time. She tells me everyone's doing it, and if she doesn't sign up right now, she'll miss out.

She and 7 friends have apparently found this "fantastic" house which they want, currently occupied by other students. Landlord said this week that he'd given the current occupants until today to decide whether they wanted to retain the house next academic year; I've just had a delighted text msg from my daughter saying they've got the house and are signing on Monday.

I'm hoping someone here with experience of letting to students can help explain what on earth is going on here... is this in any way standard practice? as it sure as hell doesn't sound like very normal to me, both in terms of turfing the current occupants and committing my daughter and co to a tenancy 11 months in advance.

I've tried explaining to daughter that she is likely to be legally committing herself to paying the cost of a full year's rent, in a year's time, along with her new best friends who she's known for less than 2 months - obvious recipe for disaster. But of course she's young, knows it all, and all she can see is that her BOF of a Dad is trying to put the brakes on this, and if I try to rein her in then her friends will go for the house anyway, and she'll lose out.

I'm going to try and get a copy of whatever she's being asked to sign, but don't know whether that will happen.

I expect that at some point I'm going to be asked to be a guarantor, but that's not been mentioned yet ("What's one of those?").

:confused:

tom999
07-11-2009, 11:31 AM
I'm hoping someone here with experience of letting to students can help explain what on earth is going on here... is this in any way standard practice? as it sure as hell doesn't sound like very normal to me, both in terms of turfing the current occupants and committing my daughter and co to a tenancy 11 months in advance.Yes, this is common practise in my area. Have spoken to a few agents and students are looking and signing up in October to February of the previous academic year.

Goes without saying, but make sure you check the terms of the tenancy agreement.


I expect that at some point I'm going to be asked to be a guarantor, but that's not been mentioned yet ("What's one of those?").It's when your sweet child decides that the great uni course she enrolled on is not for her afer 2 months, and decides to go on a 'gap year' to 'find herself' in deepest Uzbekistan, and leaves dad to sort out the 'rental house'. :eek:

On a serious note, if you do act as a guarantor, depending on the terms of the tenancy agreement and the deed of guarantee, you may be liable for rent, even if your daughter's friends (joint tenants or occupiers) default on rent.

mind the gap
07-11-2009, 12:23 PM
Hi Eric,

Yes,as tom says, it is not unusual. For the past four years at least, our student house in Newcastle has been let before the end of November, for the Sept or July following. Having said that, Newcastle Uni has sensibly taken a bit of a stand this year and really pushed the message that students should hold back from house-hunting until after Christmas, not least to try to avoid the pitfalls of signing up with the people who think are your bezzy mates NOW, only to go off them big time by next Spring.

It seems to me that the letting agents are partly to blame for this mad and ill-timed scramble for properties, (the vast majority of student houses are let through agents). Already in Jesmond (one of the popular student areas,) they are whipping up their usual frenzy about 'being sure of getting a good place before they all go' - it's a pressure to which first years are particularly vulnerable. The second and third years are usually a bit less anxious about it as they know there will still be lots of property around after Christmas. But it takes nerve to resist the pressure totally!

As far as being a guarantor goes, if your daughter signs up via an agent, you should be laughing since their guarantor agreements are generally full of holes and cannot be enforced anyway. However, depending on how desperate the LL is to let to your daughter, it is worth negotiating yourself out of any commitment to guarantee the debts of strangers' children. We did this even though we knew most of our daughter's housemates. It was a case of adding a clause with the maximum you could be held liable for (ie an amount corresponding to your daughter's 'share' even though the concept of her share does not exist legally). Hope that makes sense.

Hope it all goes smoothly for your daughter.

Ericthelobster
07-11-2009, 14:05 PM
Thanks for the advice, both.

I believe the house is let by the LL direct, and my daughter apparently knows someone who knows someone who's rented a house from him previously and found him straightforward to deal with; eg no problems with deposit refunds which is probably a good benchmark.

Having just spoken to my daughter again she says she did already have a look at the agreement with the guy but can't remember what it says :rolleyes: except that he wants £250 deposit from each of them now (no idea what the T&Cs of that are, but it's the full 12 months rent I'm worried about!). The plan is that all the girls go back on Monday to sign on the dotted line there and then. Isn't it odd that they haven't been asked about guarantors?

I'm now torn between getting involved and demanding that the LL at least emails a copy of this agreement in advance to study, or just letting them get on with it, and then crying 'Unfair!' if in 10 months time the brown stuff hits the fan... what do people think?!

For a group of 8 students sharing a house, presumably it is most likely they will they be signing a single agreement, so will be jointly and severally liable if someone wants to drop out? Is that the norm?

mind the gap
07-11-2009, 14:17 PM
Thanks for the advice, both.

I believe the house is let by the LL direct, and my daughter apparently knows someone who knows someone who's rented a house from him previously and found him straightforward to deal with; eg no problems with deposit refunds which is probably a good benchmark.

Having just spoken to my daughter again she says she did already have a look at the agreement with the guy but can't remember what it says :rolleyes: except that he wants £250 deposit from each of them now (no idea what the T&Cs of that are, but it's the full 12 months rent I'm worried about!). The plan is that all the girls go back on Monday to sign on the dotted line there and then. Isn't it odd that they haven't been asked about guarantors?

I'm now torn between getting involved and demanding that the LL at least emails a copy of this agreement in advance to study, or just letting them get on with it, and then crying 'Unfair!' if in 10 months time the brown stuff hits the fan... what do people think?!

For a group of 8 students sharing a house, presumably it is most likely they will they be signing a single agreement, so will be jointly and severally liable if someone wants to drop out? Is that the norm?

Tempting as it is to do the 'pleading ignorance' tick, I would prefer to see what it is that I am guaranteeing. If the LL is not suffciently clueed up to know that it is a prerequisite of your being a guarantor that you should have the chance to read the TA and see legal advice if you wish, then he may have got other things very wrong...I would want to know.

For example, he cannot legally have 8 students on a joint agreement. IHere is a thread which deals with this (it is complicated).

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=22988&highlight=permitted+occupier

Tess
08-11-2009, 06:01 AM
Students do this all the time, usually despite student accommodation advice. Does the Uni involved run any sort of accommodation accreditation or registration scheme? We find it is the ones that want to duck and dive the safety aspects that put the pressure on now - the registered and accredited proeprty list comes out in March so if they are full a) they save the registration fee and b) no one is checking ofr a gas/elec certificate - certainly not the students! Part of my job is to regularly check notice boards and remove unaccredited adverts, and I'm doing this already...

Try the University, if he's a dodgy landlord they won't tell you as such but they will let you know if he is known to them

Lawcruncher
08-11-2009, 07:54 AM
If she is all signed up on Monday then you will not need to stand as guarantor.

Ericthelobster
08-11-2009, 09:35 AM
Students do this all the time, usually despite student accommodation advice. Does the Uni involved run any sort of accommodation accreditation or registration scheme? We find it is the ones that want to duck and dive the safety aspects that put the pressure on now Yes, I found a link on the Uni website talking all about this, including offering a service for vetting tenancy agreements, which I emailed to my daughter. Needless to say, none of the girls were even remotely aware of the existence of any of this...

I think I've got her to agree to obtain the agreement and and take in to the uni advice centre tomorrow morning, but I know exactly what will happen:

(a) they will be told "we'll study it this week and get back to you on Friday"; at which point the LL will say "sign today or I'll get someone else" (and he will, no problem)

OR

(b) they will be told on Monday "these clauses are dodgy, don't sign it" at which point the LL will say "sign today or I'll get someone else" (and he will, no problem)

Guess what happens next :(

(I'm actually quite tempted to take a foray into HMO/student lets in the city myself, but not sure if I fancy taking on a houseful of 8 girls, and if I did, whether they'd be prepared to wait around until next summer when I'd bought and done up something; they'd worry it wouldn't fit their needs, etc etc)

If they do ultimately end up moving in, then if there's any funny business with any safety aspects then this guy is going to find me crawling all over him...

Ericthelobster
08-11-2009, 09:40 AM
If she is all signed up on Monday then you will not need to stand as guarantor.Mm, I was aware of that and have been wondering... working on the assumption that this guy's at least bit of shark, my guess is something along the lines of that as soon as he has received £250 deposit from each applicant, he will then compel them to get guarantors signed up or they will lose the deposit, and he has ample time to find someone else. We will see...

tom999
08-11-2009, 09:56 AM
If you're concerned about the landlord, then do relevant checks on him (as you may do with a tenant): e.g. Credit checks, Deeds of property, etc. Also, instead of a 12 months tenancy agreement (as is usually the norm with student lets) only agree to 6 months.

LLZ's/TenantVerify's boss is in this article:
Wary tenants change terms of reference on landlords (http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009/oct/25/tenants-landlords-references-renting-mortgages)

"Just as landlords can run checks on their tenants, there is no reason why the process should not be reversed. The only information you need is a name and current address."

Rodent1
08-11-2009, 12:02 PM
Perfectly normal practice in Cardiff.
I will have my student lets all sorted for next year by the end of November.

mind the gap
08-11-2009, 14:38 PM
If you're concerned about the landlord, then do relevant checks on him (as you may do with a tenant): e.g. Credit checks, Deeds of property, etc. Also, instead of a 12 months tenancy agreement (as is usually the norm with student lets) only agree to 6 months.
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I agree, do some checks - but it a bit unrealistic to expect student LLs to agree to a 6 month let unless they are really desperate (e.g have a still-vacant property half way through the academic year). It sounds as though this LL is not that desperate, and his response would probably be 'No chance, I have a queue of people wanting this house who are willing to sign up for 12 months. Goodbye!'.

Eric, as far as buying a property of your own to rent to your daughter and friends - this can work really well (it did for us) and you wouldn't have to wait until next summer to get it sorted if you bought a suitable house already tenanted, before then. 8 girls?! Can get a bit hormonal, but as long as you're not living with them all, it's not your problem! You may find you need to shield your daughter from always being expected to be the unofficial 'go-between' if anything goes wrong, e.g if/when things break down.

It is a rare group of students who are able to clean a house to a professional standard when they leave, so we got round this by doing a deal : if they help find us next year's tenants (and are willing to show groups round in the process), thus saving us a fortune in agents' tenant-find fees, we will sort the cleaning out. It works well and often they do a superficial clean anyway, which helps. And there are few arguments over deposits, which is always preferable.

grouse
08-11-2009, 15:09 PM
Perfectly normal practice in Cardiff.
I will have my student lets all sorted for next year by the end of November.

Normal practice round here too, All the best houses have been signed up by Christmas.
I don't think any student landlord would agree to a 6 month AST, as there would be no students looking to move in February to fill any empty rooms

Ericthelobster
08-11-2009, 15:53 PM
Eric, as far as buying a property of your own to rent to your daughter and friends - this can work really well (it did for us) and you wouldn't have to wait until next summer to get it sorted if you bought a suitable house already tenanted, before then.Hmm, interesting thought buying one already tenanted - have to admit that hadn't occurred to me! Any tips for locating these - is it just a case of going through the usual estate agents? Have had a quick look on RightMove and can't see any properties at all like that which look as if they aren't big, posh family homes.

Still think it will be too late for next academic year, the rate this particular ball is rolling....:eek:

Rodent1
08-11-2009, 16:52 PM
There are ALWAYS the people who leave looking until the last minute !
I would not be writing off next year just yet !

grouse
08-11-2009, 16:59 PM
Thanks for the advice, both.

Isn't it odd that they haven't been asked about guarantors?

I'm now torn between getting involved and demanding that the LL at least emails a copy of this agreement in advance

For a group of 8 students sharing a house, presumably it is most likely they will they be signing a single agreement, so will be jointly and severally liable if someone wants to drop out? Is that the norm?


We don't ask for guarantors for student lets, so not unusual.

No harm in asking for an Emailed copy of the agreement, any reasonable landlord would not refuse, I would be pleased that a parent was concerned enough to ask.

A house big enough for a group of 8 would, I imagine be a licenced HMO.
Check with the council to see if it has a current licence.

I would expect that a group of 8 would be signing individual ASTs. If they are signing a joint agreement then I would look somewhere else. We have several 8 room student houses and it's not unusual for 1 student to drop out or fail part of their course part way through the year. With individual agreements the problem is then between the landlord and that particular student on a joint agreement your daughter would then get involved in something which is not her fault, and you don't need the grief

Which University if you dont mind me asking??

Ericthelobster
09-11-2009, 13:37 PM
Well, just received a draft of the agreement, which looks pretty straightforward I think. It's a Fully Assured tenancy (presumably because rents received being more than £25K pa) - I don't know much about these as I deal onlywith ASTs, but are there implications of that I need to be aware of? Does it mean no deposit protection is necessary?

It looks as if all 8 will be on one agreement, which is joint and several.

The property is over 3 floors, so clearly should be a licensed HMO(?); however I've found the council's list of licensed HMOs on their website, and this doesn't feature which worries me...

One bit of the contract I'm puzzled about is the following (I've scanned in the relevant bit):


Term
An initial fixed term commencing on XXXX (the Commencement Date) and terminating on XXXX (the Termination Date) and during such continuation period as may apply thereafter until terminated by either of the parties.

Rent
(a) from the Commencement Date until the Termination Date the sum of XXXXX per quarter.

(b) in the event of the tenancy continuing after the Termination Date the rent is increased from XXXX per calendar month to per quarter in respect of the period after the Termination Date.

Deposit/Bond
An initial sum of XXXX to be paid on the signing hereof to be increased to the sum of XXXX payable on the Termination Date if the tenancy shall continue after the Termination Date, which said deposit shall be returnable to the Tenant if the Tenant shall give the Landlord a Notice in Writing on or before XXXXX of the Tenant’s intention to terminate the tenancy on the Termination Date and shall vacate the Property by the Termination Date and subject to any deduction in respect of any breach of the covenant...

What's this about the deposit apparently increasing if they want to stay on more than a year?

Though to be honest I suspect that whatever I say won't dissuade daughter and pals from their intended path... :(

jeffrey
09-11-2009, 13:43 PM
Well, just received a draft of the agreement, which looks pretty straightforward I think. It's a Fully Assured tenancy (presumably because rents received being more than £25K pa) - I don't know much about these as I deal onlywith ASTs, but are there implications of that I need to be aware of? Does it mean no deposit protection is necessary?
Stop. There seems to be confusion here.
1. A letting is either within the Housing Act 1988 or it's not. The Act [Schedule 1] shows which cases are not within its scope.
2. Cases within its scope are ASSURED TENANCIES.
3. The parties' actions then determine whether an Assured Tenancy is:
a. an ASSURED SHORTHOLD TENANCY; or
b. a STANDARD ASSURED TENANCY [see Schedule 2 for how it becomes one of these].
4. What you call 'fully assured' is probably an SAT.
5. BUT if the rate of rent > £25 000 per year, the Act does not apply at all!

mind the gap
09-11-2009, 13:53 PM
It looks as if all 8 will be on one agreement, which is joint and several.( I do not claim fully to understand the practical implications of this, but parts of the following thread on 'more than 4 on a joint agreeement' may be illuminating:
http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=22988&highlight=joint+tenants



The property is over 3 floors, so clearly should be a licensed HMO(?); however I've found the council's list of licensed HMOs on their website, and this doesn't feature which worries me...


RIng the council and ask if an HMO licence application has been received for a property at that address. If it has not, you need to decide whether to shop him. Chances are the place is unsafe or does not have planning permission for 8, so I would turn him in, even if it means your daughter may have to look elsewhere. Come to think of it, the agent (if they are any use) should have a copy of the HMO licence).

jeffrey
09-11-2009, 13:56 PM
This bit must surely be wrong:

Rent
(a) from the Commencement Date until the Termination Date the sum of XXXXX per quarter.

(b) in the event of the tenancy continuing after the Termination Date the rent is increased from XXXX per calendar month to per quarter in respect of the period after the Termination Date.

Is the rent due per quarter [as in (a)] or per calendar month [as in (b)]? It cannot be both!

Ericthelobster
09-11-2009, 14:08 PM
Stop. There seems to be confusion here.Hmm, tell me about it.... "Fully Assured Tenancy" referred to the wording on the agreement, so I'm not sure where that leaves us....


Is the rent due per quarter [as in (a)] or per calendar month [as in (b)]? It cannot be both!Well spotted. Doesn't instil much confidence, does it?