It is really important to make sure you know what you’re signing up to. Are you signing an individual or joint tenancy agreement? What does the landlord commit to doing and what is your responsibility? Are bills included or extra?
The Students' Guild Advice offer a free contract checking service which we recommend students use for clarification and peace of mind. The Guild can see if anything unexpected is on the contract and you can query it with the landlord or private provider before signing.
What to expect
Paperwork can be one of the most confusing things about moving and you will have a lot of things to read through. You absolutely must read through every bit of paperwork you are given and fully understand what is expected of you. Normal things to receive are:
Your Tenancy Agreement (known as your 'Contract')
The legally binding document/contract that outlines the terms and conditions of you staying the property.
A list of property, goods, furniture and contents. Both you and the landlord/agent will sign this when you move in to agree to the quality of goods and contents of the property and if there are any pre-existing damages.
If you don't reach the minimum financial requirements of an agent or landlord - you may need to provide a guarantor who will guarantee payment in lieu of you being able to fulfil it. This form is an agreement between the landlord/agent and the person agreeing to be the guarantor. This will be provided by the landlord/agent/private provider.
Most private providers or letting agents will ask you to fill in an application form. This is to both provide contact details of a potential tenant (you), and to provide details for a credit check if they're requesting one. The application form may ask for details of previous landlords as a reference.
This list is not exhaustive - if you're unsure of what paperwork you are being asked to sign or being told you 'have to' sign check with Students' Guild Advice first. They can review your contract as well as talk you through any concerns you may have about your accommodation contract. Their website has lots of helpful information or you can contact them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first time I was looking at accommodation in Exeter, I really didn't understand what I was doing. The Advice Unit were really good at talking me through what I needed to do and I ended up loving my new place.