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Help and Advice

Introduction

This section to many of you may just equate to boredom and you will just flick through it - if you've reached this far that is. You really do need to read this and more importantly take note. I know the feeling - you've found a house that's so close to your local that you can almost get served without leaving your living room. Your room's also got a double bed, and that's all that matters, so "lets get it". Be warned, without taking time to evaluate your potential new home properly, you may live to regret making any hasty decisions.

 

For more detailed information access our new student housing guide.

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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a house that is occupied by 3 or more people from 3 different families. Most student houses or flats are HMOs and this means landlords are required to comply with special HMO legislation as enforced by the Housing Executive.

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HMO Standards

It is a fact that the number of deaths from fire in HMOs is many times higher than in family occupied dwellings, and this increases with the size of the house. For this reason the Housing Executive has set standards for HMOs for fire protection, for kitchens, for washing and toilet facilities and for minimum space standards. The minimum fire standards in a HMO are:

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Northern Ireland HMO Statutory Registration Scheme

The Housing Executive is progressively enforcing these standards on HMOs throughout Northern Ireland, through what is known as the Northern Ireland HMO Registration Scheme. For a house or flat to be registered it must:

 

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Note on use of prepay electric meters

 

The installation of prepay meter is prohibited where they could affect the continuity of electrical supply to Fire alarm and Emergency lighting systems, in the event of the their running out of credit.

Under no circumstances should you arrange to have meters changed without seeking advice from your landlord, the Housing Executive HMO dept. or where you see this sign.

 

This is for your safety

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Setting up the Tenancy

 

· A Written Tenancy Agreement or written Statement of Tenancy Terms.
A landlord is required to provide a written statement of tenancy terms where the tenancy commenced after 1st April 2007. This is an important legal document which generally protects the rights of the tenant. It is also a contract which commits the student to the tenancy for the time period set out in the agreement. Where the tenancy is for a fixed term the landlord can not change the terms of the tenancy without the agreement of the tenant.

· The Tenancy Deposit
Usually a landlord asks for a tenancy deposit before the tenant can move into the house or flat. The landlord must state clearly in the written tenancy terms the terms the circumstances under which all or part of the deposit may be withheld at the end of the tenancy.

· A Rent Book

The Landlord is required to provide the tenant with a rent book. This record the rent which has been paid each month and can prevent disputes or claims that rent has not been paid. The rent book must be held by the tenant who should make it available to the landlord for updating for each payment of rent. 

· Inventory
The student should check the list of items present in the house when he/she moves in. Sometimes a landlord will provide such a list, but it is important for the student to check it and agree with the landlord. 

· Payment of Services
The tenants may be responsible for paying for electricity and gas, but it is important to clarify this at the start. It is also important to know if the tenants are required to pay separately for rates, and all this should be clearly set out in the written terms of the tenancy.

· Repairs
Repairs or maintenance to gas and electrical equipment, and ensuring furniture safety, are the responsibility of the landlord. Apart from this the landlord and tenant can agree whatever division of responsibility for repairs and maintenance they wish. In most cases students expect the landlord to carry out all repairs and maintenance, and this should be included in the tenancy agreement. If it is not included in the tenancy agreement, and the tenancy commenced after 1st April 2007, the law places responsibility for repairs on the landlord.

Tenants must take proper care of the property, keep it in reasonable decorative order, and make good any damage they may cause.

· Landlord Access to the House
The landlord must be allowed reasonable access to the house, at reasonable times, to inspect and to carry out repairs. The tenant must be given reasonable notice of this, at least 24 hours.

· Vermin
No house should be infested with vermin – rats or mice – nor with other pests such as cockroaches. The local Council will deal with rats and mice HOWEVER rubbish not put into bins entices and indeed feeds vermin. It is essential that ALL rubbish is stored properly.

 

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Tenancy Deposit Scheme

From 1 April 2013 a landlord must, by law, protect any deposit taken in connection with a private tenancy in an approved tenancy deposit scheme. This scheme was introduced and administered by the Department for Social Development. Any deposit taken on or after the 1 April 2013 in relation to a private tenancy has to be protected in an approved tenancy deposit scheme. 

Four organisations have been appointed as Scheme Administrators to operate tenancy deposit schemes in Northern Ireland. 

They are:

 

Here is a link to the DSD Website which provides further information. http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/hsdiv-housing/private_rented_sector/tenancy-deposit.htm

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Your rights

Your Landlord is responsible for…… 

  • Keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house, including drains, gutters and external pipes. 
  • Keeping in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, and for heating rooms and heating water. 
  • Providing a rent book. 
  • Providing you with the landlords or agents full name and address. 
  • Providing you with a copy of the valid current Gas Safety Certificate. 
  • Allowing you to “peacefully enjoy” your accommodation (unless there is an emergency). 
  • Landlords or their agents have the right to enter the property at reasonable times to carry out the repairs for which they are responsible and to inspect the condition and state of repair of the property. They must give at least 24 hours notice in writing of an inspection. It would be helpful to set out the arrangements for access and procedures for getting repairs done in the tenancy agreement.


You are responsible for….. 

  • Acting in a "Tenant-like manner". This means you should perform the smaller tasks around the house such as mending the electric light when a fuse blows; unblocking the sink when clogged with waste, cleaning the windows when necessary. 
  • Not damaging the house, if you do then you and your guests are responsible for the repairs. 
  • Refuse collection! Remember to find out the collection day from your local council. Put the wheelie bin out - and bring it back in again - it's illegal to leave it on the street. 
  • Securing the property when you go away - lock all the doors and windows! Being reasonable about noise and parties - weekends are better and let your neighbours know in advance. 
  • Reporting all repairs needed to the Landlord (preferably in writing). The landlord's responsibility to repair begins only when they are aware of the problem. If the fault is not corrected within a reasonable period of time (dependant upon the nature of the disrepair)then seek advice from the Students Union Advice Centre/ Accommodation Office or Citizen's Advice. 
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Migrant Workers – Housing Rights Advice - (available in 6 languages).
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Useful Links

Further advice can be found in the following websites:

Northern Ireland Housing Executive


Citizen Advice Bureau Northern Ireland


Advice on Private Renting
Advice on Houses in Multiple Occupation



Housing Rights Service – Northern Ireland


nihe.gov.uk/housing_advice/finding_a_home/renting_privately.asp


  housingadviceNI.org


If you have any problems or wish to complain about any aspect of your rented house or flat the following telephone numbers can be used.

  Belfast City Council

     Derry City Council
 

    Newtownabbey Online


    www.colerainebc.gov.uk/


   Carrickfergus Borough Council


   www.consumercouncil.org.uk/
General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland provide the Good Practice Guidelines for Private Rented Student Housing 

 
  Northern Ireland Electricity


 Phoenix Natural Gas

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What is an Inventory?

It is not uncommon for tenants not to receive a copy of inventory from their
landlords when first moving into their new house.

An inventory can be extremely useful evidence of the condition of the property when you first move in. It provides a full inspection of the property’s contents and their condition.

If you aren’t supplied with an inventory by your Landlord or Letting Agent, don't hesitate to ask for one. If you still don’t receive one, provide them with your own. You do this by making a list of the contents room by room, and then take photos or use video evidence to record the property contents and condition as back up.

The Landlord/Agent and tenant(s) should both sign the Inventory and initial every page to indicate that you agree to the condition of the property contents and condition.

If at all possible, the final inventory check should be done on move out day and checked against the original inventory. This should ensure that there aren't any disputes about the extent of any damage, should there be some, as the landlord may need to take monies out of the deposit to pay for these.

When compiling an inventory it is essential that you:

 

  • Describe the condition of every item within the property.
  • Back it up with photographic/video evidence.
  • Take a note of the gas and electric meter readings.
  • Get the landlord/agent to agree to, and sign the inventory.
  • Keep a safe copy of the signed inventory to check against when moving out.
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Do I need a TV Licence at university/college?

Do I need a TV Licence at university/college?

You need a TV Licence if you’re watching or recording television programmes as they’re being shown on TV. This applies to whatever device you’re watching on – a TV, laptop, tablet, mobile phone or games console, and however you’re receiving the programmes – via an aerial, satellite, cable or streaming through the internet.

It’s the law, and anyone who watches or records television programmes as they’re being shown on TV without a validTV Licence is at risk of prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

A colour TV Licence costs £145.50. There are lots of different ways to pay – all in one go or spreading the cost weekly, monthly or quarterly. Just choose whatever’s best for you.


Don’t forget the student refund

If you’re leaving your halls or rented accommodation and moving back home for the summer, there’s a good chance you won’t need your TV Licence if there’s one at home. If there are three full calendar months before your licence expires, you can get a refund for the unused quarter of your licence.

If you’d like a refund or further information, simply click on the following link: TV Licensing for students or call TV Licensing on 0300 790 6113.

 

When don’t I need a licence?

If you only ever watch catch-up TV services such as iPlayer, 4oD and ITV Player, or only watch Blu-rays, DVDs or downloaded videos, you don’t need a TV Licence.

If you think you don’t need one, you can find out more information and let us know by visiting tvlicensing.co.uk/notv

 

Why is it worth getting a TV Licence?

A TV Licence covers you to watch a huge range of programmes on any device, as they’re being shown on TV. This includes 1000’s of documentaries, live music shows, dramas, must see sports events, films, 24 hour news programmes and a whole lot more – all for the equivalent of just 40p a day.

 

Find out more at tvlicensing.co.uk/wellworthit.

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