Student property FAQ

If you live in shared accommodation, in Cardiff or elsewhere in the UK, you may have questions. Our letting agents are here to give you some answers...

Lettings

When do students find their house for the next academic year?

The majority of the available student accommodation for the following academic year are normally viewed during the autumn term (Sept-Dec). Some early birds start making inquiries as early as October, but things tend to really kick off when we publish our list of available houses with three or more bedrooms at the beginning of November. Student tenancies in Cardiff usually run from 1st July to 30th June the following year, so properties might be advertised up to nine months before students are able to move in. We make our one and two bedroom student properties available around February-time.

Where is the student housing in Cardiff?

There are four universities in Cardiff: Cardiff University, the University of South Wales, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Cardiff Metropolitan University (formerly known as UWIC). Though there are campuses around the city, most Cardiff student housing is in Cathays, Heath or Roath, as they are centrally located and have good transport links to the universities. Cathays is home to the central campus of Cardiff University, and has good rail and bus links to the campuses of Cardiff Metropolitan and the University of South Wales.

Cardiff medical students’ accommodation tends to be in the Heath, as their courses are based at University Hospital of Wales, locally known as ‘the Heath Hospital’. University of South Wales students based at the ATRiuM often look for student accommodation in Cathays, but sometimes look to Adamsdown and Splott as it is typically a shorter walk to lectures. Students at Cardiff Metropolitan’s campuses in Llandaff and Treforest will similarly choose to live in Cathays to be close to the action, but also to the bus and train stations.

Are all student houses in Cardiff put on the market at the same time?

The bigger houses - typically those with three or more bedrooms and available to be moved into from the beginning of the next academic year - are put on the market at the beginning of November and viewings can be booked from then. The smaller properties - such as one and two bedroom flats - are put on the market in February and, again, can be viewed immediately.

However, the nature of the lettings business is that landlords are bringing new properties to us all the time, so we end up adding more houses to our books throughout the year, but we never actively withhold any properties that will be available for rent.

What’s the average rent for Cardiff student accommodation? Do student houses come with bills included?

The average rent for a student property in Cardiff is around £275 per person per month, but it can be as low as £250 or as high as £350 depending on the quality, size and location of the property. Most student housing doesn’t tend to have bills included in the rent.

What’s a guarantor, and why do student tenants need one?

In essence, a guarantor is a financial backer for a tenant, who agrees to pay the rent if the tenant should fail to do so. Professional tenancies in the UK will often be subject to references from previous landlords and current employers, as well as credit checks, which student tenants can’t provide.

Most guarantors are the parents or guardians of students, and must be UK residents, UK homeowners, and over the age of 25. The guarantor paperwork needs to be signed and the original documents provided to us before or during the signing of the tenancy agreement.

What’s an agency fee and why do I have to pay one?

An agency fee is what you pay to take a property off the market, before you sign the tenancy agreement. Once the agency fee is paid, there will be no more viewings on the property and it won’t be marketed to anyone else, meaning it’s provisionally ‘yours’. The exact amount of the fee will vary depending on the amount of rent on the property. When you pay the fee, you’ll receive the paperwork that you need to bring with you to signing of the tenancy agreement.

If I can no longer take the property, can I transfer my agency fee to a different one?

If you haven’t signed your tenancy agreement yet, and provided it’s been two weeks or less since you paid your agency fee, we’re happy to, in most cases, transfer it to another house marketed by CPS Homes. However, please note that we’re only able to transfer a fee once.

I’m a single student looking for a room in a shared student house - can you help me?

Possibly. We don’t tend to advertise single rooms within shared student houses, but we’re happy to put your name forward if we hear of a property that’s in need of a new tenant. The whole group would then be required to come in and sign a new Tenancy Agreement.

What’s the difference between a ‘managed’ and a ‘let-only’ tenancy?

For a ‘managed’ student property, the landlord has instructed CPS Homes to deal with the management of the property during the tenancy, including rent collection, moving in and out, any maintenance issues, and other general enquiries. In short, you deal with us for everything and may not even meet your landlord.

A 'let-only' tenancy means that the landlord has asked us to find tenants, but will manage the property themselves. We source the tenants and arrange the signing of the tenancy agreement, then from that point onwards the landlord will manage everything. We’ll provide you with all the necessary contact details during the signing of your tenancy agreement.

Legals

What am I actually signing for as part of a student tenancy agreement?

Your student tenancy agreement is not just a contract permitting you to live in a property if you pay your rent on time. It’s an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which also sets out the responsibilities of the tenants regarding activities within the property and actions to be taken by the tenant in terms of maintenance works and paying bills. As one joint contract between all of the tenants and the landlord, it means that the behaviour of the other tenants is as much your responsibility as it is theirs. It’s an agreement that you’ll all live in a ‘tenant-like manner’, look after the property, pay your rent and bills on time, and make sure that your housemates do the same.

What are the legal responsibilities of a student tenant? What is 'living in a tenant-like manner'?

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, tenants are responsible for carrying out minor maintenance to a property, such as

  • regulating condensation levels within the house, to prevent mould build-up;
  • changing lightbulbs;
  • unblocking toilets and drains;
  • heating the property during the winter to make sure the pipes don’t freeze;
  • topping up boiler pressure;
  • keeping the property clean and tidy, including recycling properly and throwing away all rubbish.

Tenants are also responsible for reporting other maintenance issues in a timely manner, so that the landlord can deal with any issues before they get worse.

What are the legal responsibilities of a landlord?

A landlord is responsible for ensuring that the structure of the house is sound and that it’s fit to live in. This includes making sure the property has:

  • heating;
  • hot water;
  • lights;
  • sanitation and sewerage;
  • no safety hazards;
  • regular (typically annual) checks for gas, fire and electrical safety;
  • an HMO licence, if it is a licensable property.

What if one tenant pulls out after signing a tenancy agreement?

If a tenant drops out of a contract after they’ve signed the tenancy agreement, he or she is still liable to pay the rent until a replacement tenant can be found and a new tenancy agreement signed. The new tenancy agreement will need to be signed by the new party of tenants, which will be the tenants from the original contract, plus the replacement for the departing tenant. That contract will then supersede the prior tenancy agreement, and the departing tenant will no longer be liable for any responsibilities under the tenancy.

What’s an inventory, and why do I need one?

An inventory is a record of the contents of a property and the condition it’s in. It should be accurate to the beginning of your tenancy, so that the letting agent and landlord can track any wear and tear on the property and are aware of any ongoing maintenance issues. It’s important to ensure that the inventory is up-to-date at the beginning of the tenancy and to annotate it with any errors or omissions that there may be, if only to make sure you’re not blamed for something you didn’t cause come to the end of the tenancy.

Can I add things to my inventory?

Within the first week of you moving in, you’ll be able to amend the inventory to accurately reflect the condition of the property when you moved in. The inventory will be used to judge ‘fair wear and tear’ and the end of your tenancy, so it’s important to ensure it’s as accurate as possible. After the first week of your tenancy, however, the inventory becomes a binding document, which we will scan and link to our system for reference. After that time it won’t be possible to amend it, but we can take notes of changes to the property throughout your tenancy.

What does 'HMO' mean, and how does it apply to me? What are Mandatory Licensing and Additional Licensing?

'HMO' stands for ‘Houses in Multiple Occupancy’, and is a term that applies to any household of three or more unrelated adult tenants in the UK. However, it’s a common misconception that every HMO requires a HMO licence.

'HMO licensing' is the process by which the government regulates the standards of houses that are rented out to multiple occupants. HMO regulations set the standards for a property where tenants share kitchens and bathrooms, such as what kinds of locks must be fitted to the doors, the type and placement of fire detectors, and how much space tenants are entitled to.

Mandatory Licensing dictates that every property with three or more storeys housing five or more tenants must have a HMO licence, although local authorities have the power to place an Additional Licensing on other areas. In the Cathays area of Cardiff, for example, Cardiff County Council has decided that every HMO requires a HMO licence and is subject to additional regulations.

Money

What happens if I miss a rent payment?

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to ensure that rent payments are made on time, but if you happen to miss a payment, our Accounts Department will be informed that you’re in arrears. If you fail to pay within the stated period of time, late rent charges will apply to your account. Your guarantor may be called upon to honour the terms of the guarantor agreement and pay your rent for you.

Who pays for the bills?

Unless otherwise agreed, the tenants are responsible for setting up the utilities for the property and are liable for all bills, including the TV licence. Full-time students don’t have to pay council tax, but your letting agent and the council will need to see a copy of your exemption certificate - issued by your university at the beginning of each term - so they don’t pursue you for payment.

How much will my bills be?

The price of your bills will depend on your energy provider and the size of your property, so it won’t be the same for all of our tenants. It will also depend on whether your water supply is metered or not. As a ball-park figure, we usually advise students to budget for £15 per person per utility per month. That’s £15 for gas, £15 for electricity and £15 for water - each.

How much is council tax?

Full-time students won’t have to pay any council tax - you should get a 'council tax exemption certificate' from your university to confirm this. The council will need to see a copy of this so they know not to bill you.

How many TV licences will we need?

If you watch shows 'live', i.e. as they're being broadcast, whether on a TV or on a computer, you'll need a TV licence for the house. As you're on one joint tenancy agreement that covers the whole property, you’ll only need one licence. If you only watch on catch-up or have a TV that only plays DVDs, you won’t need one at all. Simple!

What is a tenancy deposit, and why do I need to pay one?

A tenancy deposit is a down payment on a property that functions as a security deposit. It is returned in full at the end of the tenancy if the property has been left in a good condition. In other words, tenants commit to taking care of the property and accept that the landlord will be able to claim money from their bonds if they leave the property in a poor state of repair. However, it is worth noting that landlords and letting agents are not simply able to take money from a tenancy deposit – deposits are protected with government-regulated deposit protection services, which means that nobody can spend your money without your say-so.

How much will my tenancy deposit be?

Most deposits are a little bit more than one month’s rent – it can vary depending on the individual landlord. Your letting agent will confirm how much you will have to pay.

Who keeps the tenancy deposit money? What is ‘deposit protection’?

By law, all deposits in the UK must be registered with a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of it being paid. Landlords have a choice of registering it with three Government-approved schemes: the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits, or The Dispute Service (TDS).

Deposit protection was set up in 2007 to protect tenants’ rights, and means that no money can be deducted from your bond without your input. A landlord or letting agent must “claim” money, and they must be able to prove that the works they carried out were caused by the tenants, or they will not win the money if it goes to dispute.

How can I pay my deposit money?

Deposits must be paid for in “cleared funds” if you’re paying during the signing of your tenancy agreement, so you cannot pay by cheque. Cash, debit card or credit card are fine, though credit cards are subject to a 2% charge.

Who will decide if there are to be deductions from my deposit? Why might there be a deduction, and what do I do if I don’t agree?

Deductions to your deposit will only be claimed for remedial maintenance or cleaning work that should have been carried out by the tenants during the tenancy, or can directly be attributed to the tenants. Fair wear and tear is always accepted and allowed for.

What happens when my deposit goes into dispute?

When your deposit goes into dispute, the amount that is not being disputed will be returned to the tenants. An independent adjudicator appointed by the deposit scheme will then make a decision on who is to receive the disputed amount, based on evidence provided by both landlord/agent and tenant(s). Evidence could include the schedule of condition (inventory) at the commencement of the tenancy, as well as photographic evidence pre- and/or post-tenancy.

When will my deposit be returned?

You’ll receive your deposit back after the end of your tenancy, but we’re only able to refund it once we’ve received proof that you’ve paid your council tax and utility bills up to the end of your tenancy. Proof of these can be provided by way of £0.00-valued bills. If you’re a full-time student and therefore exempt from paying council tax, we’ll require your student exemption certificate, which is available from your university.

Maintenance

What property maintenance are tenants responsible for?

Tenants are responsible for the minor maintenance of a house that they are renting, treating it as if it were a home that they owned. Tenants’ responsibilities are set down in law as the ‘tenant-like manner’, and include:

  • regulating condensation levels within the house, to prevent mould build-up;
  • changing lightbulbs;
  • unblocking toilets and drains;
  • heating the property during the winter, to make sure the pipes don’t freeze;
  • topping up boiler pressure;
  • keeping the property clean and tidy, including recycling properly and throwing away all rubbish.

Tenants are also responsible for reporting other maintenance issues in a timely manner, so that the landlord can deal with any issues before they get worse.

What do I do if I have a maintenance issue?

If you live in a let-only property, you’ll need to make contact with your landlord, but if you’re in a property managed by CPS Homes, please call our Maintenance Team on 02920 668585 or email us on maintenance@cpshomes.co.uk.

If you have other tenancy-relating queries, check out our renting FAQs.

Contact us

Contact us