Moving in with too many people

Flat sharing is a big part of being at uni. You can have a lot of fun living with friends, however, it's not always a case of the more the merrier. We all have friends that we love dearly but wouldn't trust to run a bath. Some people come best in small doses - a fun friend is not necessarily a good flatmate!
Before you start looking for a flat consider which of your friends you'd like to live with and why. It might feel harsh to let people down but you need a good mix of fun, practical, tidy and quiet.

It is really important because disagreements between flatmates are a common problem. Remember you're signing a legally binding contract and will not be able to simply walk away. As a group, you will also have to decide on how to split and share responsibility for bills. If your flatmate breaks something or doesn't pay their rent, the landlord or letting agent can use everyone's deposit to cover what is owed.

If there's a disagreement between flatmates, your deposit scheme doesn't get involved. If you as tenants can agree on the distribution of the return of the deposit between all tenants, we'll split it equally. To find out more about joint tenancies - have a closer look here.

Money

Decide what you can afford before you start flat hunting. You might see a great place with rent you can afford - remember you will have to budget for rent, gas, electricity, phone, internet and a TV licence, as well as food and general household items.
One of the bonuses of being a student is that you don't have to pay council tax for your house. You should complete a council tax exemption form from your local council to make sure you're not billed.

The commute

It can be really appealing to want to live right in the most hipster fancy pants part of town. However, rent will dictate where you can live. Consider how far it is from where you're studying. Will you need to commute? What are the costs? How frequent are trains and buses?
When picking somewhere to live you'll need to consider the balance between how much you're able to afford on rent and living costs as well as how long you're willing to commute for.

If you can manage, it's always a good idea to consider cycling. It's a one-off purchase with little upkeep. It'll save you money and keep you fit.

The tenancy agreement

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a new place to go ahead a sign the tenancy agreement and move in right away.
What's important to remember is that the tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract.
Read the tenancy agreement carefully. If you have any doubts, speak to your Student Union, Shelter Scotland or your local Citizen's Advice if you're unsure of anything.

If you signed a tenancy agreement that started after the 1st December 2017 you have a new style of agreement. The law has recently changed. Previous leases were called 'Short Assured Tenancy Agreements'. These agreements lasted only 6 or 12 months - you had to resign and commit to renting for that contract length. The new contracts are called 'Scottish Private Residential Tenancies'. Only University Accommodation and private student halls can continue using Short Assured Tenancies.

With the new style of contract, there is no fixed term period. Your tenancy just starts and it only ends when you bring it to an end or your landlord evicts you. You are not legally tied-in to renting the property for any set period. You only need to give your landlord 4 weeks' notice that you wish to move out. Your rent can only be increased once every year.'

Deposit

Your landlord or letting agent is required by law to transfer your deposit to a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme, like SafeDeposits Scotland, within 30 working days of the tenancy start date. They must also give you the details of where the deposit is being held. If you've not been told where your deposit will be protected ask the landlord or letting agent to confirm.
When you move in, your landlord or letting agent should provide you with an inventory which outlines the condition and cleanliness of the property.

If anything details are missing (e.g. dirty grout in the shower, a broken lampshade, etc.) make sure to write it on the inventory before you and your landlord or letting agent sign it. If damage or dirt isn't listed on the inventory when you move in, you could end up being charged for it after you move out.

If your landlord doesn't protect your deposit you can take action in the First Tier Tribunal. It is an alternative to court, it doesn't cost any money to use. If it is proven that your landlord has broken the law you could be awarded up to three times the amount of the deposit in compensation.

If you're thinking about using the tribunal they can assist you however it's always good to get as much advice as you can - Shelter Scotland & your local Citizen's Advice will be able to assist you.

During the tenancy

Let the landlord or letting agent know about any problems or damage as they happen, preferably by email so you have a written record.

If you do not inform your landlord or agent they may seek to claim deductions against your deposit.

After the tenancy ends remember repayment is not automatic - remember to claim back your deposit. From the day you move out you can contact SafeDeposits to submit a request. Read our blog post here to find out more.