Finding the perfect student accommodation can be tricky, and even after you’ve found the right place, you’ve got to navigate the student tenancy agreement. It’s essential you know what a student tenancy agreement is and what it typically includes before you sign on the dotted line.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered – in this blog, we’ll explain:

  • What a student tenancy agreement is
  • What an assured shorthold tenancy is
  • Individual vs joint contracts
  • If you’ll need a deposit and guarantor
  • What an inventory report and notice period are
  • What the tenant’s responsibilities are
  • If you can end a student tenancy agreement early

What’s a student tenancy agreement?

A student tenancy agreement is a legally binding document between a landlord and a student tenant. It allows you, AKA, the student, residential property for a specified period at an agreed rate.

What’s an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

But this is actually the most common type of tenancy if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent. An assured shorthold tenancy, or AST, allows the landlord to let out their property for a fixed term (which is normally one year) while being able to keep it after the tenancy period.

Individual vs joint contracts

You’ll likely be offered an individual or joint contract as a student… so what’s the difference?

Individual contract

This is the better option for student tenants if you’re offered it as each student will sign a separate contract with the landlord. An individual contract means you’re not liable to pay your housemate’s share of the rent if they move out or fail to pay, so they have to cover their end of the bargain.

Joint contract

This is the more common option. Signing a joint tenancy literally means that all student tenants are jointly responsible for the rent. If one person moves out, you’ll need to cover their share of the rent! 

With both of these types of contracts, it’s unlikely that bills will be included, so this is probably something you’re going to have to sort. You’ll have to consider the multiple suppliers you’ll need to set up with gas, electric, tv licence and Wi-Fi, along with which housemate is going to take overall responsibility for setup and chasing the money from everyone to meet the monthly payments. 

Alternatively, you can use a bill-splitting company which will help take the edge off by rolling everything into one, setting everything up and splitting bills between all housemates, who then pay from their individual accounts. This will save one person chasing up people to transfer their share every month, as well as save time and effort having to search and set up multiple accounts.

Will I need to pay a deposit?

The short answer is yes, you will. A deposit acts as a guarantee to the landlord that you’ll uphold the terms of the agreement. You’ll need to pay this before the start date of your house contract, and it’s usually the equivalent of a month’s rent. Providing there’s no damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, you should get your full deposit back when you move out. So have fun, but not too much that you risk your deposit by taking out a wall or melting the kitchen.

Will I need a guarantor?

Most student tenancy agreements need a guarantor. Basically, this is someone (usually a parent or close relative) who agrees to make rent payments if you cannot. A guarantor helps to assure the landlord that your rent will be paid, and they won’t lose out on income. Most student tenancy agreements need one.

What’s an inventory report?

An inventory report is a list of everything in the property, along with what condition it’s in when you move in. Your tenancy agreement should include one. 

Ideally, this should have photos as evidence, as when you move out the house will be checked against this report! That’s right, any missing or broken items, or damage to the property and it’s goodbye deposit!

It’s a good idea to check that the inventory report is correct when you move in and even take your own pictures of the property to make sure you don’t lose your deposit unfairly.

What’s a notice period?

This is the amount of time you’ll need to give your landlord before you move out. It’s fairly difficult to leave before the tenancy is up (we’ll cover this later on), but you’ll need to give written notice even if you plan on leaving when the tenancy duration expires.

What are the tenant’s responsibilities?

As a tenant, you’ll have certain representations which should be detailed in the student accommodation contract. This will likely include general property maintenance but might also include things like mowing the lawn.

We’ve got a more comprehensive guide on the tenants’ and landlords’ responsibilities and obligations to help you out.

Can I get out of my student tenancy agreement?

Ending a student tenancy agreement early isn’t straightforward. Unlike other tenancy agreements, they often don’t include an easy break clause. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We’ll cover the steps you’ll need to take below.

University halls

If you’re living in halls, the first step is to let your university’s accommodation service know you’re leaving. Be honest with them, tell them why you need to move out… whether you want to change to a different room or leave the university entirely.

Your university will likely require you to find a replacement tenant before they release you from the contract. You can use social media, or your university might have a forum for this purpose. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay for your room until you’ve sorted a replacement.

Privately rented student accommodation

After your first year of uni, you’ll most likely live in privately rented accommodation and need to speak to your landlord instead of your university. However, the steps will largely be the same. You’ll also need to think about utility bills, and if you don’t find a replacement tenant in time, you’ll still need to pay these bills and your rent.

How Split The Bills can help

Student tenancy agreements can sound pretty complicated, much like setting up and paying student utility bills. Luckily, we’ve got a solution – our trusted bill-splitting service.

Split The Bills is the best way to simplify your household bills and take the stress out of utility bills. Our team will set up utility accounts for your student house and manage them on your behalf. You can customise your bills package to include gas, electricity, water, broadband and even a TV licence if you need it. All the bills will be split equally among your housemates and bundled into one neat monthly payment!

Make moving into a new student house as simple and hassle-free as possible – get a monthly price for your household bills today.