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A new lease on student life…

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A new lease on student life…

Signing the lease on your student accommodation is probably one of the biggest adulting steps you’ve taken yet, and it’s important to understand just what it is you’re signing up for – and what rights you have if you want to move before the lease is up.

Decode your contract for a new lease on student life…

“Reasons for moving could vary from the convenience of being closer to campus or having seen an alternative that offers better value for money and a better environment for studying,” says Craig McMurray, CEO of Respublica, a leading student housing provider. It could even be because your landlord isn’t keeping to their side of the deal, or simply that you’re unhappy where you are. When you sign a lease, or try to cancel it, it’s important to know your rights and your responsibilities when it comes to your rental contract.”

Whether you’re staying in a conventional apartment or in a university residence, you should have signed a lease agreement with your landlord before you moved in – any landlord that offers you accommodation without a contract is suspect, and to be frank, breaking the law, and should be avoided.

Read through this list before you sign a new lease and turn to it again if you’re planning on cancelling a contract, and you’ll be armed with all the information you need to complete negotiations successfully.

  • Make sure that the term of the lease matches your requirements. For example, if your academic year runs from February to November, it doesn’t make sense to sign a 12-month lease. Some landlords may not be willing to negotiate around this, but others who are purely in the student accommodation industry will structure their business to make allowances for your needs.
  • If you are compelled to sign a 12-month lease, make sure that there is a clear exit clause. Every lease should also have a cancellation clause that describes the conditions under which either you or the landlord can cancel it. If such a clause isn’t included in your lease, insist on one before you sign.
  • You can cancel your lease contract if your landlord hasn’t kept to what they promised in the original agreement, whether it’s major repairs not being done, poor security and access control, or even sub-standard cleaning services.
  • If you want to cancel your lease even though your landlord has done everything they’re supposed to, your best bet is to chat to them, to see if you can agree on how to end it. With student accommodation in such high demand, they may release you from your contract if you can find someone to take it over – but don’t do this without their knowledge, or you may then be in breach of your contract yourself!
  • If your landlord refuses to release you from your contract, the Consumer Protection Act says that you can give your landlord notice if you want to leave before your lease expires. If the landlord hasn’t done anything wrong, however, they are entitled to recover any reasonable costs that they incur while they’re replacing you. It’s worth preparing that money just in case, but this is another instance where it’s worth finding a replacement person if you can.
  • If you find someone suitable to take over your lease, the landlord cannot turn them away, or make you pay any penalties that may be in lease.
  • If your landlord won’t release you from your contract, they are not allowed to randomly make up penalties that weren’t outlined in the original contract. Similarly, if your deposit was secured to cover the costs of any damage or breakages, and none have happened, the landlord may not withhold your deposit when you leave, unless you both agree to use your deposit as your last month’s rent.
  • While it’s important to be happy at varsity, it’s just as important to be happy at your home away from home while you’re studying. Choose a secure environment close to lectures, where you’ve got the space and resources to study. Ideally, find accommodation that includes someone else doing the chores of cooking, laundry and cleaning, so that you can focus on your studies instead of admin.

Most importantly, choose accommodation where both you and your landlord are protected and treated fairly, so that you’re never distracted from your studies by having to battle your way out of an unfair contract.

 

 

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