Having problems with your housemates or landlord? Worried about safety? You've come to the right place. The Advice & Support team can help answer your questions. Simply get in touch with our team!
Looking for accommodation to rent?
The best way to find safe and good quality accommodation near University is by making sure that your property, landlord or lettings agent is PAL accredited. PAL is a landlord and property accreditation scheme that aims to improve the standard of privately rented accommodation in Welwyn Hatfield.
The scheme, founded by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and the University of Hertfordshire, recognises landlords and agents that meet their legal obligations and those that go above and beyond to provide quality homes.
Those who are PAL accredited must abide by an agreed Code of Standards, to ensure they are providing safe and well-maintained properties.
Visit the PAL website to view properties, Landlords / Agents and to find out more about how the scheme can support you in your off-campus accommodation.
Ready to view a potential property?
Make sure you check everything thoroughly and ensure that the general condition of the house is satisfactory
Viewing a property can be incredibly exciting, however it is most important to ensure that the property is safe, secure and meets your needs before you sign the contract. Once you have signed a contract, you are liable to pay rent up until the end of the contract term, therefore it is vital that you a fully satisfied with the condition of the property before signing the contract or paying money towards securing it. The key things to consider are:
- Cost: What is the deposit? Is the rent affordable? Are bills included? If so, which bills are included?
- Location: How far is it from University? Is the area well lit? Will you feel safe walking to/from University? If you have a car, is there suitable parking?
- Condition of the Property: How does the property look? Are there any signs of dampness or condensation, such as mould on the walls or carpets? Do all the lights work? Is there hot and cold running water?
- Furniture and Fittings: Does the furniture come with the property? What is the condition of the furniture? Is there adequate storage space? Are any appliances provided and are they in good condition? Does the cooker and fridge work?
- Safety: Is there an in-date gas safety certificate? Have all the appliances been PAT tested in the last 12 months (look for stickers on the plugs)? Are there working smoke alarms? Is there a fire blanket in the kitchen and fire extinguishers elsewhere in the house? Is there an evacuation plan? How secure are the locks on the bedroom doors, windows and front/back doors? Does the door have a bolt or chain?
- Outside Space: Is there a garden and is it secure? Who is responsible for maintaining the garden?
- The Landlord/Agent: Would you feel able to approach them if anything went wrong? Are you feeling pressured to sign the contract or pay a deposit before you feel ready?
Worried you’ll forget what to check on a viewing? Use our Viewing Checklist
Found a property?
Make sure that you read through the contract thoroughly before you sign it. Only sign if you are 100% happy that you have chosen the right property and any changes within the property have been agreed with the Landlord/Agent in writing. Once you have signed the contract you are liable to pay rent up until the end of the contract term, therefore it is vital that you are completely satisfied with the property before signing the contract and/or paying monies to secure it.
Make sure that your deposit is paid into a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. When deposits are paid into Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes, tenants are usually provided with a certificate and credentials to access an online portal for the protection scheme. It is illegal for deposits to not be protected, therefore if you want to check if your deposit has been protected you can do so through these certified protection scheme websites:
You need a postcode, surname, tenancy start date and deposit amount to search.
If you are ever feeling pressured to sign a contract or to pay a deposit before you feel ready to do so, that is not a good sign. If you want to sign up with a Landlord or Lettings Agent which must abide by an agreed Code of Standard, to ensure they are providing safe and well-maintained properties, it is best to only go through the PAL accreditation scheme.
Anything you’re not sure about? Get in touch
Unsure about Council Tax?
If your property is only occupied by full-time students then you'll be exempt from paying council tax. However, if one person is not a student - or is a part-time student - then the property will have to pay a certain percentage of the normal council tax amount for that property.
Every full-time student needs to apply for Council Tax Exemption. Please follow the Council Tax Exemption Guide
It is important to note that the council tax exemption only covers students whilst they are studying full-time. Therefore, if you are a final year student who finishes their studies in May but has their tenancy contract lasting until September, the student will be liable to pay council tax for the period from the end of their studies in May to the end of their tenancy contract term in September. If you know that this is going to occur, it is worth saving money in advance so that it can be paid easily and on-time.
Ready to move in?
- 1. Contact the utility companies that the house is registered with and give them meter readings on the day that you move in. Make sure you have an in-date gas safety certificate too
- 2. Complete the inventory for the house and take photos of the state of the house when you move in (noting all forms of wear and tear that weren’t down to you). Send the inventory to either the Lettings Agent or Landlord as soon as you can
- 3. Purchase contents insurance to protect your belongings
- 4. Update your address details on StudyNet and with the University’s Medical Centre (if you're registered there)
Tenancy come to an end?
Make sure that you leave the property clean and tidy. If the property is left in a bad condition your deposit refund could be affected. Always make sure that you dispose of all your rubbish properly and do not leave any rubbish at or outside the property
If you would like to explore this subject further, you could check out the "Ready to Rent" guidance from the National Union of Students' (NUS).