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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Top tips for new students thinking about renting privately

As students across NI get their “A” level results, local charity Housing Rights has come up with handy tips and a short video for anyone thinking about renting privately.

Many students heading off to College or University will choose to rent privately.  The sector has grown rapidly in recent years and now makes up for 17% of all households, nearly 130,000 homes in Northern Ireland. 

Ursula Toner, Advice Service Manager with Housing Rights said: “Setting up home for the first time can be both exciting and daunting.  Students heading off to College or University can often be unsure about their rights and responsibilities when renting privately.  Our tips to help avoid any potential problems are:”

  1. Viewing a property is really important - shop around and keep an eye out for signs of damp or disrepair.  If you spot a problem, get written confirmation from the landlord before you sign the contract that the problem will be dealt with.
  2. Make sure you fully understand what any money you pay over to an agent is going to be used for and under what circumstances it will be refunded.
  3. If you have to provide a guarantor, check that this person understands exactly what they’re responsible for and make sure they get a copy of your agreement– they could be asked to cover your flatmates’ arrears or damages as well as your own.
  4. Read your tenancy agreement carefully and don't sign it unless you understand and are happy with all the conditions.
  5. Check the inventory of items in the property, noting their condition and cleanliness before you sign it.
  6. Your landlord must be registered and your deposit must be protected. Make sure to check that your landlord has complied with these requirements.
  7. Check that you’ve been given a gas safety certificate for any gas appliances and that all alarms and safety measures work
  8. Get your own contents insurance, the landlord’s insurance won’t cover any damage to your belongings.
  9. Make sure you've budgeted for all the costs associated with having your own home - don’t forget your living costs as well as your rent, rates and utility bills.
  10. Know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and where to get advice if things go wrong.

Ms Toner continued: “It's really, really difficult to get out of a tenancy if you change your mind about the place, so get advice immediately if you can’t continue with the contract or if you're having any problems in your new rented home.”

Housing Rights has produced a 3 minute video that is designed to help people find private rented accommodation and understand their rights. The video, and lots of other useful information on renting privately is available online at www.housingadviceni.org