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Signing a Contract

Most landlords will require you to sign a fixed term contract for twelve months which is legally binding. You can, sometimes, get a nine month contract, especially if you sign in September. Once you have decided that you would like to take a property, the agent/landlord should provide you with a copy of the contract to look over before you sign it. If there is anything that you are not sure of in the contract then make sure you take some advice from a third party -

  • If the property is registered with Smart Move Sheffield, we can check the contract for you.
  • Alternatively, if the property is not registered with us, the Student Advice Centre will be able to check your contract but you will need an appointment.

Some basic information that you should expect a contract to contain is:

  • The name and address of the landlord
  • Contact number for the landlord or emergency contact name and number
  • Name of all of the tenants if a joint contract, just yours if an individual contract
  • The property address
  • If an individual contract, your room should be specified
  • The start date and end date or the duration of the tenancy (e.g. 12 months)
  • The amount of rent payable, the frequency or dates of payment and the method of paying
  • If anything is included in the rent and what it is
  • Details of the deposit payable and the scheme the landlord uses to protect it if you are signing an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement

 

What Are the Things to Look Out For?

Rent Payments – Make sure you know how much you need to pay, how you need to pay it and when you need to pay it. Check that your rent is due around the same time as your loan payments so you have enough money to cover it! Check to see if there are any penalties for late payment and when they start.

Guarantor – not all landlords require you to have a guarantor, but it is common if you are renting a property through a letting or estate agent. If you are signing a joint tenancy ask to limit the responsibility of your guarantor to cover only your share of the rent.

Charges – Sometimes there is a section for any charges that may be incurred whilst living in a property. These can include call out fees if you get locked out or admin fees for sending you a letter. Make sure you know how much you may need to pay, before signing the contract.

What to do when moving in/out – The landlord may have included information about what to do with keys or how to schedule a pre-checkout visit.

Putting things on walls – Usually, you need permission to affix things such as posters or photographs to the wall and may be required to pay for redecoration if there is any damage. It’s best to check with the landlord before you put things up.

Buying/moving furniture – Some contracts prevent the moving of furniture either within or between rooms. Others will ask that it’s put back as you found it. Check for a clause like this if you’re thinking of making changes. When purchasing furniture it is usually required to meet fire resistance standards.

Notifying the Landlord or Agent when the property is empty for a period of time – In some tenancy agreements you can be required to advise the landlord if the property will be empty for a specific amount of time. This is likely to affect you over the summer and Christmas vacations particularly.

Guests – Most, if not all, contracts will prevent long term guests. If you’re expecting a friend or partner for the weekend this may be alright. Check if there are any limitations on the number of consecutive days a guest can stay for.

 

What Other Fees Might I Have to Pay?

You may need to pay for a deposit and/or administration fees to the landlord or letting agent. The administration fees are often to cover the setting up of the tenancy, reference checks or protecting the deposit with a scheme but it is a good idea to ask for the exact breakdown of costs. It is usually the larger agents who will charge an administration fee, and it is worth asking whether there are any to pay, how much they are and what they are for before you view a property.

There is no maximum amount for administration fees, but they are usually between £50 and £200 per person.

Level 3, Students' Union Building, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TG
Tel: 0114 2226058, Email: smartmove@sheffield.ac.uk

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