How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Your Landlord
It’s that time of year where students are moving from student halls to houses and while many landlords are good people, there are some who take advantage of the relative inexperience of students. There are tons of horror stories of landlords ignoring damp ceilings and peeling paint while charging an arm and a leg for a shoebox-sized room. So what can you do to avoid the money grabbing, dodgy and unscrupulous landlords? The following tips will show you how to avoid getting ripped off by your landlord;
1. Keep Records Of Everything
No matter how much you love and trust your landlord, you need to document every transaction and correspondence. If you ever discuss anything in relation to your contract, whether it is in person or over the phone, insist on a written record or email them so that you have a record of it. You also need to keep the receipts of all payments you make to the landlord in the form of rent or repairs to the property. This way, if you agree that the landlord has to repair the broken toilet or that you will repair it and you can deduct it from the rent, he cannot dispute the agreement.
2. Rent From A University Approved Landlord
Some universities will have a list of preferred and approved landlords in the locality. Check the list to find some good landlords who are less likely to give you problems with your tenancy. If you cannot get somewhere from the list of approved landlords, find accreditation schemes or websites that review student residences. Most of these will have reviews that can tell you a lot about a potential landlord.
Unipol is a good example of a student housing site which has landlord reviews.
3. Insist On A Deposit Protection Scheme
The law requires that every landlord puts your deposit in a scheme such as Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The money has to be deposited with one of the services within 14 days or you can take the landlord to court. Having your deposit in a scheme means that in case of a dispute when you are moving out of the house, your money will be protected by a neutral party until you resolve the dispute with the landlord. The scheme will usually be involved in resolving the dispute and will listen to the facts and look at the evidence from both parties before making a decision.
4. Have Repairs And Maintenance Written Into The Contract
You hear stories of students who had to deal with ceilings hanging dangerously low, leaking roofs, and mouldy walls. Such properties can be very dangerous and could lead to injury and illness if the landlord refuses to fix them up. To protect yourself from uncaring landlords that do not maintain the property, get everything in writing such that you can have legal recourse. It is also critical to have it written into the contract who will be responsible for minor and major repairs. Some aspects to consider include if the landlord asks you to do repairs, how will the cost be recouped? Will it be in the form of reduced rent or will the landlord reimburse you?
5. Take Photographs Of Everything
There are crooked landlords who will give you an inventory that may not necessarily be true. They may leave out some truths such as broken fittings, cracked windows and chipped paint, and then try to charge you when the lease is over. To prevent being ripped off by such landlords, take photographs of every inch of the apartment before signing the agreement. Take photographs and rectify any discrepancies in the inventory by indicating all damage. Ensure that the landlord has copies of all the photographs by sending them to their email so that you have evidence when you are moving out.
6. Read the Contract And Understand Everything Thoroughly Before Signing
We typically just breeze through the terms and conditions of say a mobile phone contract and accept everything without really reading in too much detail. However, you cannot afford to do this with student housing contracts. Crooked landlords will hide small things in the contract and if you are not careful, you may find yourself charged for the most ridiculous things when your lease is up. Check for unfair clauses such as statements that say the landlord can amend the lease at any time or that you may have to pay for structural repairs. If you find such clauses in the contract, ask for clarification but if you can ask for them to be removed or look for a different property all together.
7. Do Not Accept Anything Less Than What You Paid For
Never let the landlord have any excuses for why the property is not in good condition. When you are moving in, the property needs to be in the expected condition. Never accept a shoddy apartment with broken fittings or bad paint. If the landlord does not agree to fix up the house, ask for your rent and deposit back.
Students are sometimes not necessarily the best tenants but a lot of landlords take advantage of them because of their inexperience. If you follow the tips in this article you can significantly reduce the odds of getting ripped off and get to enjoy your student housing.