Housing and Accomodation

Housing and Accommodation

If you live in UU Halls of Residence and have issues, we suggest in the first instance you contact Residential Services. If, however, you feel that you require further support or mediation and representation contact us for our assistance

Renting from a private landlord

Ensure you have a Tenancy Agreement!

A Tenancy Agreement is a legal binding document that sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant containing all the terms and conditions of the tenancy such as:

·         The length of the agreement;

·         The rent payable;

·         Repairs;

·         Leaving the contract early terms;

·         What is and isn’t allowed in the property.

REMEMBER! This is a LEGAL DOCUMENT so be mindful of clauses contained within it, if you are unsure come to us, DO NOT be pushed into signing a contract, if your landlord will not allow you to take a copy of your contract to allow you time to read it, you may want to consider signing it. Be aware of any potential charges or fees may be charged prior to signing any such document with a letting agent

Landlord Registration Scheme

It is a legal requirement of your landlord to be registered with the Landlord Registration Scheme and have a registration certificate.

House of Multiple Occupation Scheme

If you share accommodation, consider checking with your local Housing Executive to see if your landlord needs to get a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) Registration for the property. Your property is a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ if it has three or more people from at least two different families sharing the property.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are required to have higher safety standards as there are potentially increased risk. To adhere to safety standards, the landlord has t abide by special HMO legislation which is enforced by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

      Tenancy deposits

Typically, landlords and letting agents will need you to pay a deposit and may also ask for a guarantor before they draw up a contract. They may also ask you to pay rent in advance.

Don't hand over any money until you've had a good look around the property: check for obvious signs of disrepair, damp, badly fitting doors or windows, or anything that could compromise your security. It might also help to take someone else with you to get their views on the property.

For more information click here from TDS Charitable Foundation advice on securing your deposit.

      Paying a deposit

Landlords will almost certainly request a deposit to cover arrears of rent or property damage. Always get a written receipt for your deposit and any time you pay money to a landlord or letting agent. Request an inventory of the contents of the house, including kitchen appliances and confirm they are working when you take up your tenancy.

Your landlord or letting agent must register your deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 14 days of you paying this. After 28 days you must be provided with specific information regards your deposit. This protects your deposit and ensure it is returned to you if you have taken care of the property.

If the property is let to several tenants on one tenancy agreement, you might need to nominate a lead tenant to deal with:

·         the deposit;

·         any dispute that might arise at the end of the tenancy.

Each scheme must allow all tenants to access the scheme and its services.

You can contact the Environmental Health office in your local council if:

·         your landlord doesn't protect your deposit within the 14 day time limit;

·         your landlord doesn't give you written information about your tenancy  deposit protection within the 28 day time limit.

When a council finds a landlord has broken the law over tenancy deposits, they can fine the landlord three times the amount of the deposit.

The council can also prosecute a landlord for breaking the law.  If convicted, a court can fine a landlord up to £20,000.

Your deposit should be returned to you if all fees have been settled and the property has not been damaged beyond normal wear and tear. If you feel that it's being withheld unfairly, contact UUSU Advice Bureau for assistance.

For more information click here from TDS Charitable Foundation advice on securing your deposit.

      Guarantors

Your landlord may ask students to provide a guarantor who agrees to cover costs if you don’t pay the rent, or cause significant damage to the property. A guarantor will usually be a parent or guardian. If you have a joint tenancy, any guarantor will also be jointly liable for overdue rent or damage caused by the other tenants. Guarantors can try and limit their liability by writing it into their guarantor agreement - to do this, seek independent legal advice.

Get in touch d.kerr1@ulster.ac.uk