Everything You Need to Know About Student Accommodation Contracts

Before you move away to university you won’t have ever had to think about things like student accommodation contracts, and what your rights and responsibilities are as a tenant in a student apartment or a student house.

Up until now, it is likely that you’ve lived at home, rent-free, with your parents and family. It is important therefore, to understand a few things about the contract you’ll sign for your student accommodation, whether it is somewhere like our own student accommodation or a shared house with friends through a private landlord for some years of your university life.

Once you have said goodbye to your family and friends before leaving for university, it’s time to live on your own, or at least with strangers (new/future friends) where you’ll be responsible for many things.

Don’t be scared though, it is a fun time to live away at university, to learn how to budget, to cook, to look after yourself, and to have the time of your life. These are just a few basic things to be aware of.

paper reading contracts

What are the different types of tenancy contracts?

Depending on what your own personal preference is and where you are living, there are a few different types of student accommodation contracts to be aware of. These include:

Assured shorthold tenancy agreement

Most student properties will feature an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. This will be no longer than 12 months in length and will likely be between the months of August and July of the following year, to cover the following academic year.

person signing contracts

Individual contract

These are often the most popular type of contract, as students are only responsible for their own rent, which is really beneficial in a shared house situation where the group might not know each other that well, or where there could be changes in the make-up of the house as certain people decide to leave the property.

This means that you are not liable to pay more rent to make up the difference if one of your housemates decides to leave. An individual contract is what a student signs within blocks of student accommodation, even if there are shared living spaces, cinema rooms, gyms, and other social, common areas in the building. Quite often, utility bills are included in these contracts.

man signing a contracts

Joint tenancy agreements

This is where every person living in the property is jointly responsible for paying the rent, bills, and other costs related to the property, such as ensuring that the accommodation remains in good condition and is liveable at a bare minimum.

There are disadvantages to this, as mentioned above in terms of personal liability should one person leave. The house as a whole is responsible for paying the set amount of rent. If you don’t replace someone within the house this makes it more expensive, and it can be more difficult to end a contract if you are all not moving on at the same time.

signature contracts

Legal obligations

Below is a list of some of the legal obligations on both sides that are worth keeping a note of before moving into accommodation of any kind:

  • The student property must be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the time of the contract beginning and throughout the tenancy agreement.
  • The landlord must carry out basic repairs and ensure that the exterior and structure of the property is sound.
  • The supply of electricity, gas, water, heating and sanitation must be in working order and is the responsibility of the landlord.
  • The tenant must take care of the property and not damage it.
  • The tenant should be supplied with the name and address of the landlord.
  • The landlord must give 24-hour written notice to enter a property, for any reason.

people pointing at contracts

What about disputes and issues with the landlord?

It is important to be prepared for the worst when it comes to relations with the landlord of your student accommodation. It isn’t a given that you’ll be in dispute, by any means, but be aware and prepared just in case you have issues that you need to contend with.

The landlord or letting agency is responsible for maintaining the property to a safe and liveable standard. It is down to you, as the tenant, to ensure that your own room and any shared spaces are regularly cleaned and that you check for wear and tear.

If there is a problem, or if something has broken, you must report this to your landlord/building manager. The process for this will be different depending on where you are living.

2 girls calling the landlord while moving in

Can I decorate my student accommodation?

One of the biggest things that comes up with student accommodation contracts is the question of damage.

This tends to come up at the end of a contract when a tenant is waiting for their deposit back and quite often relates to the state of the walls where you have added some personality to the space to make it homely and comfortable.

If you’ve put up prints, posters, photos, and postcards on your walls, you’ll want to make sure that you can remove all evidence of it before you can move out and ask for your deposit back, as you must leave the accommodation in the state it was when you first moved in.

Tips for this include hanging personalised pin boards so you’re not sticking multiple pins in the wall, causing holes that later need to be filled, utilising wall-hanging command strips that leave no marks behind and allow you to put up prints and posters and framed photos, as well as looking at other design tips to create a cosy room without causing damage such as plants, colourful bedding and furnishing and better lighting.

decorating a student accommodation

Can I have guests stay at my student accommodation?

Every student accommodation contract will differ slightly on these points, but generally, you are allowed guests to visit you, as you would in any home you live in.

However, if you are to have guests staying over for more than one night it is common courtesy to speak to your flatmates first if you have shared space.

Bedrooms in student accommodation are for single occupancy, and guests should never sleep in communal areas for fire safety and other regulations.

friends sitting on sofa

Inventory and end of tenancy

When it comes to the end of your student accommodation contracts it is best to be as prepared as you can. This begins at the very start of your contract. When you are provided with an inventory that lists every aspect of the property, including photo evidence, this is the time when you should always take your own photos, just in case there are discrepancies.

It also allows you to closely match the state of the property, as you must leave it this way when you leave. If the landlord believes the property is damaged or left in a worse state than when you move in, they may withhold some or all of your deposit.

Inventory list

Remember, as much as all of these things are important for you to know when you’re first thinking about student accommodation contracts, it could come in handy in future if you are unlucky enough to have disputes of any kind where you live, moving away into a student home is a lot of fun! You’ll make new friends, make your student accommodation your home, and make your new town or city your home too!