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Housing

Finding somewhere to live, staying happy and safe once you've got a place and dealing with any problems: it's fair to say that almost every student will experience some kind of housing issue whilst at Uni.

We can help you look at the options available to you and give assistance along the way. Use the links below for more information.

 

Cardiff Housing Map

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View Cardiff Met SU in a larger map


Agency Fees

Council Tax

Deposits

Guarantors

House Hunting

Tenancy Agreements

TV Licence

Useful Contacts


Agency Fees

If you rent through an agent, you are likely to have to pay agency fees. As a matter of law, agents are not allowed to charge you a fee (or whatever else they try and call it!) for:

  • Registering your details; or
  • Supplying lists of available properties.

However, an agent can charge you for things like:

  • Taking references and/or carrying out credit checks
  • Preparing and amending tenancy agreements
  • A deposit to hold the property
  • Preparing guarantees and checking guarantors.

Some agencies only provide a Finder service and they don’t always make it clear that you may have to pay more fees when you sign with the agency actually renting the property!

If you’re not 100% happy with an agent’s fees, behaviour or documents, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING AND DON’T PAY THEM ANY MONEY!

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Council Tax

If you are a student you may be exempt from Council Tax payment. To make sure you are not made liable for the payment, you need to get a Council Tax certificate :

You can get this through your Student Portal on the University website: Login, select 'Essentials', you have the option of ' Council Tax Certificate' and 'Proof of Enrollment' , select the document you require and click 'print'

 

Please note that you are not entitled to Council Tax Exemption if:

  • you are not enrolled;
  • you are enrolled but are retrieving assessments with no required attendance;
  • you are enrolled for dissertation only;
  • you are a part-time student.

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Deposits

What is a deposit/bond?

Pretty much every landlord/agent will insist on you paying a deposit when you accept a property. This is usually equivalent to 4-6 weeks’ rent (but may be more, for example if you don’t have a guarantor). You will normally pay your deposit when you sign the contract - which might be months before you actually move into the property. 

What is it for?

The purpose of a deposit is to protect the landlord from any financial loss he/she suffers as a result of you not behaving properly in the house. As such, your landlord may deduct money from your deposit for:

  • Replacing items you’ve lost, stolen or damaged
  • Cleaning
  • Unpaid rent
  • Repairing damage to the property
  • Other losses – such as the cost of changing locks and getting new keys if you don’t return your keys on time, or the cost of re-advertising your room if you leave your tenancy early.

What happens to my deposit?

Your deposit should always be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDP) if you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) within 30 days of giving it to your landlord or letting agent. (Almost all student lets have AST contracts)

The three schemes are:

  • Deposit Protection Service (Custodial and Insured)
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

These government-backed schemes ensure you will get your deposit back if you:

  • Meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • Don’t damage the property
  • Pay the rent and bills

I think my deposit has been placed in a protection scheme, but how do I know? 

Within 30 days of handing over the deposit, you should have:

  • The address of the rented property
  • How much deposit you have paid
  • How the deposit is protected
  • The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and its dispute resolution service
  • Your landlord (or your letting agency’s) name and contact details
  • How to apply to get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy
  • What to do if there’s a dispute over the amount of deposit to be returned at the end of the tenancy

At the end of the tenancy

The deposit must be returned to you within 10 days of you agreeing with your landlord/agent how much you will get back.

If you’re in a dispute with your landlord, the deposit is protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is settled.

Disputes

Use your tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme’s free dispute resolution service if you disagree with your landlord/agent about how much deposit should be returned.

Contact your TDP scheme for more information on the dispute resolution service. If your landlord or letting agent is withholding some or all of your deposit they need very good reasons for doing so.

Legal clauses will be written into your tenancy agreement. You will be responsible for:

  • Any damage to the property apart from ‘reasonable wear and tear’
  • Leaving the property clean and tidy when you move out
  • Making sure there are no outstanding bills when you leave

My landlord says they are withholding my deposit and I don’t know why?

If you feel the landlord is claiming unfair deductions from your deposit then you should dispute them. In the first instance, this will involve having a calm discussion with the landlord or the letting agent. Copies of emails, letters, and dated photos would be very useful in refuting the claims. It is important to note that the deposit is legally yours and it is the responsibility of the landlord or letting agent to prove that you owe them some or all of the deposit.

If you and your landlord cannot agree on the deductions you will probably end up presenting your cases to a ‘dispute resolution service.’ A dispute resolution service comes free with the Deposit Protection Scheme where your landlord places your deposit for the duration of your tenancy. They provide a mediation service to help resolve the conflict which does not require court involvement. This is also known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

My deposit is protected by DPS

Be assured that if your deposit has been protected in a DPS then neither you nor your landlord can access the deposit money until you have both agreed the amount to be released in writing.

You can also go to court but even the small claims court will cost you money and take more time. The court will also want a very good reason for you not using the free service available.

Avoiding disputes

1. Check the inventory thoroughly

When you moved in you should have been provided with a full list of everything in the property and what condition it is in. You should have checked it thoroughly to ensure its accuracy and made amendments, informing your landlord or letting agent before you signed the document. When moving out, take the time to go through the signed inventory and restore everything to the condition it was in before you moved into the property. This includes items you have moved into storage or simply put in another room. If anything is missing or has been damaged since you moved in then it is fair to expect you will have to pay some compensation for this.

If a landlord or letting agent fails to provide you with an inventory then they will have great difficulty charging you for any damage to anything in the property. It will be impossible for them unless you agree to it. The dispute resolution service will not pay attention to an inventory which a landlord presents if it is not signed by you.

2. Take photographs with electronic dates recorded

Some landlords may not inspect the property before you move out and there is nothing to legally oblige them to do so.

When it comes to cleaning the property, it would be wise for you to have check-in and check-out pictures. These must prove that you left the property in a state which is at least as clean and tidy as when you moved in. Photos will be useful if your landlord claims you have damaged the property beyond reasonable wear and tear. Most mobile phones take very good quality pictures and will probably be suitable as long as you can prove the date they were taken.

Landlords must act reasonably and not claim more than is necessary; they may claim for:

  • Replacement of a damaged item where it is severely damaged beyond economic repair or its condition makes it unusable
  • Repair or cleaning where replacement cannot be justified
  • An item that has had its value reduced or its lifespan shortened by damage (an award of compensation may be appropriate as opposed to having to buy new)

If you find yourself in dispute and using the dispute resolution service then be aware that they will always be thinking about “wear and tear versus actual damage.”

Using a Dispute Resolution Service

If you have caused some damage to the property and cannot agree on a reasonable sum of compensation with your landlord, then the dispute resolution services will calculate what you should pay very carefully.

Where to go for help and advice

The first step is to phone the scheme which holds your deposit and ask their opinion before entering into dispute. After all, they will be the ones who decide your case. Your landlord will have provided you with the details of which scheme holds your deposit.

The dispute resolution service will come to a decision and pay out in two weeks. Their decision is final; you must accept this and there is no option of further action after this (e.g. court).

 

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Guarantors

Most agencies and landlords will require a guarantor for your tenancy. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your landlord (usually for rent or damage) if you do not. Precisely what your guarantor will be liable to pay depends on:

  • What the guarantee says (so make sure you and your guarantor check this!)
  • What your tenancy agreement says (that is, if you have a joint tenancy agreement and your guarantor is acting for ‘the tenant’, then your guarantor is effectively guaranteeing the whole property and everyone in it)
  • The amount of your deposit (if your deposit is more than the amount of damage or unpaid rent that the landlord is claiming, then the landlord won’t need to ask your guarantor for any more cash).

Most landlords will insist on the guarantor being a “UK guarantor” (mainly because they’re easier to chase for money!). If you don’t have a UK guarantor you could consider offering one of the following options instead:

  • a larger deposit (if you can afford it)
  • a certain number of months’ rent in advance (again, only if you can afford it)
  • a reference from your previous landlord
  • a reference from your bank or employer

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House Hunting

When’s the best time to look for housing? 

We recommend that from February onwards is reasonable – by then, you should have a good idea of who you want to share with and you will have had time to get to know the City much better in respect of the best places for you to look. 

Do not start looking too soon! #dontrentyet

Every year students are pressured into looking for their next place to stay – sometimes almost a year in advance, and if you’re new to Cardiff you might panic that if you don’t find somewhere you’ll be left homeless – this is not true.

There are plenty of houses to go around! Agents/landlords may tell you that houses are running out or in short supply – House hunting before the winter holidays is not necessary; there is more accommodation in Cardiff than students themselves so you have plenty of choice.

Remember: 

The longer your money stays in your bank account the more interest it earns for you instead of the agents or landlords.

Many of the properties that will become available won’t be advertised until later when the current tenants have decided whether to renew or leave.

Agents and Landlords say they simply respond to demand by advertising early.  By resisting the temptation to sign early students have the ability to change the market pressures.

How do I even start?  

Remember what you’re looking for in a house, and don’t be tempted to drop your standards or sign for something you can’t afford to pay; you will find what you’re looking for eventually!

Unscrupulous landlords or agents may try to pressure you into looking and signing for properties early; they may be worried that they’ll be left with an empty property or they might even be trying to get you into a house they couldn’t rent last year! They might show you grotty houses first to make it seem that there are only a few good ones out there, or try to tempt you with a ‘discount’ or ‘gift’. If you’re worried about anything a landlord or agent says to you, you can speak to the Student Advisor or the University Accommodation Service.

What to look for in a house

Location, Location, Location

First and foremost – where do you want to live? Make sure that the location you’re aiming for is:

  • Within your budget
  • Makes it easy to get to University
  • Makes it easy to get to places you like visit

Have a look at the UMAX’s housing advice section. We’ve produced a map which you can download and have highlighted the most common areas for students to rent:

http://www.cardiffmetsu.co.uk/umax/advice/housing/

Housemates

Most students live in groups: it’s often cheaper, easier to find properties and usually more fun. But remember that you’ll usually be responsible for the house (and the state you leave it in) as a group – so think carefully about who you’ll be living with.

If you are thinking of sharing, it is unlikely that you know your proposed housemates well enough after only a few weeks of term to legally bind yourself to a contract that won’t even commence for many months and then have usually a year to run thereafter.  Will you still like each other in 6 months time?

Who?

Think about how well you know your housemates – if you don’t live with them already you might not realise how clean or noisy they are, or how much they party, until you move in with them. If you already live together, think carefully about how you get along as a group. Are you prepared to be jointly and severally liable with someone you barely know?

How Many?

Large groups can be lots of fun, and you can make sure none of your mates get left without anywhere to live. But the flipside is that it limits your choices and can increase the possibility of arguments over noise or cleanliness. If you can’t find a (decent) house that you can all fit into think about splitting into two smaller groups and looking for two houses close to each other instead.

What else?

What do you think of your housemates’ friends/boyfriends/girlfriends? Chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of them too!

Other things to consider

Think about what you really need/want from your home – and make sure you talk to your housemates about it! Don’t feel pressured to live somewhere you don’t like, don’t feel comfortable with or can’t afford.

Some things can be compromised – but others, like location and cost, might be a deal-breaker. Different students have different priorities – you may not be able to live without a power shower, while your housemate might be lost if they’re not able to take a bath at the end of a hard day. 

The most important thing is to talk about, and agree on, what’s important to you as a group.

Room size can be a killer, especially in bigger houses – be honest and upfront with your housemates about whether you’d be willing to have a smaller room (and if you are, make sure you’re clear on whether you’ll be paying less rent as a result).

Set a budget – bills are usually not included.

Set aside a time to view houses together and be prepared to look at a number of different houses. Organise a time when everyone is able to make all the viewings. Never look at houses alone.

Be aware of verbal promises of future maintenance work to be ready for your move in date. Make sure these are written into the contract before you sign.

Size matters

Houses with 3 storeys that house 5 or more students anywhere in the City have to be licenced by the Council to meet legal standards of living. To check if your property is licensed email:

privatesectorhousing@cardiff.gov.uk 

Useful Contacts

Cardiff Met Accommodation Service

Email: accomm@cardiffmet.ac.uk

Tel: 029 2041 6188

Cardiff Digs

Web: www.cardiffdigs.co.uk

Cardiff Digs is a website for all student housing and living needs and aims to support you with information and advice about your time spent in Cardiff. Whether moving from Halls to a house, living in private rented accommodation, it aims to stop confusion about living and studying in Cardiff.

Tel: 02920 871808

Mobile: 07854381637

Email: Emma.Robson@cardiff.gov.uk

Cardiff Council

Web: www.cardiff.gov.uk/c2c

Connect to Cardiff (C2C): the centre offers help and advice on Council services.

Tel: 029 2087 2087 (English) / 029 2087 2088 (Cymraeg)

Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 6:00pm

Housing Standards

Cardiff Council can assist you if you are concerned about the standards in your rented accommodation or the management practices of your landlord.

 

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Tenancy Agreements

So, you have chosen your flatmates, you’ve found a house to rent, what next? 

You will be asked to sign a Contract: either by the Landlord directly or via the Letting Agency.

The first thing to remember is that you are entitled to have a copy of the agreement for up to 24 hours before you sign it, so you can take it away, read through it carefully and ask for independent advice.

Even if the Landlord or Agent is sat in front of you, do not feel pressured into signing there and then: Once you’ve signed a tenancy agreement it’s very hard to get out of! So make absolutely sure yours says what you want it to and that you understand what you’re signing.

* Occasionally landlords will tell you that if you don’t sign there and then, then the house will be released to someone else – if necessary, walk away! 

What if I don’t understand my contract? 

Don’t assume that if you don’t understand the jargon that others in your group will! Either get independent advice, or ask your Landlord/Agent to explain terms which you are unsure about.

When we saw the property, there were some repair works to be done/changes to be made to the property

If there is anything which needs sorting before you take over the property, and it could impact upon your experience as a tenant – do not accept this verbally. Ask for any maintenance issues to be acknowledged in writing as part of the agreement between you.

So, the contract... 

There’s no getting away from it – your tenancy agreement is a legal contract. Once you have signed it, you will have agreed to the terms & conditions for the time specified: so if you fall out with a flatmate, or find you can’t afford the rent, it is very difficult to get out of. 

In particular, think about:

  • When your tenancy starts and ends – are you paying money for an empty house over the summer?
  • Is your tenancy joint or several? This affects your liability for rent and damage, so be clear about it
  • Does your contract allow your landlord to make extra charges or fees? Make sure you’re comfortable with these.
  • If you’re concerned about, or you don’t understand, your tenancy agreement, get advice before you sign anything!

What should my contract look like? 

Your tenancy agreement will typically be 4-5 pages long and very detailed. It lists your responsibilities so read it carefully. As a minimum, it will show:

  • The names of the landlord and tenant(s)
  • How much the deposit is
  • How much  the rent is and when it should be paid , for example, on the 1st of every month
  • The address for the landlord or agent who will be looking after the property.

The main things you must do are as follows:

  • Pay rent on time 
  • Pay other bills. In most student lets, you’ll be paying, utilities (including water), TV license and internet charges. Make sure you have included these in your budget for the year. (If you are in a property of all students you will not have to pay council tax)
  • Respect neighbours - so no making noise, putting rubbish in the wrong place or obstructing common areas
  • Look after the property.

The agent’s job might be to market the property, arrange signing of agreements and payment of the first month’s rent and deposit.

After that, you may find you are dealing directly with a landlord who will look after the management. However, most landlords tend to leave the management up to the letting agent.

The good news is that you are not expected to maintain the building - that’s the landlord’s job. But you should behave in such a way that the building is properly cared for. For example you must:

  • Keep the property secure at all times - so lock it when you go out and don’t give keys to anyone else
  • Tell your landlord when things need fixing to avoid bigger problems later - e.g. a leaking pipe, if not maintained, could make a ceiling collapse
  • Do basic maintenance - e.g. change light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries.

Obviously, you must not engage in any illegal activity at the property and nor can you:

  • Alter the property in any way, including hanging anything on the walls or re-decorating without written permission from your landlord
  • Sub-let....unless, of course, the landlord says you can.

Here are our other tips for a trouble-free time as a tenant:

  • Never enter into a tenancy unless there is a written tenancy agreement
  • Get the contact details of whoever will be looking after the property so you can contact them if something goes wrong
  • Keep a date record and a copy of all correspondence, including phone calls, and keep a copy of the agreement and inventory
  • Check the tenancy agreement for any unfair terms, e.g. a clause that allowed the landlord to come in at any time without giving notice would be unfair
  • If repairs need doing, be flexible and allow workmen to come in to the property - but confirm how long work will take first
  • If you have a problem, talk to the landlord or agent - most will be pleased to help and keep good tenants
  • Where you are ‘jointly and severally liable’ with others for the rent, you can be pursued for the whole rent. So pick housemates you trust!
 

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TV Licence

If you’re living away from home in halls of residence or in a shared house, you will need a TV licence.  Students in halls will need an individual licence but if you are in a shared house with joint tenancy you will only need one for the household.

To check whether you will need a licence:
www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/students.jsp

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Useful Contacts

Cardiff Met Accommodation Service:

Cardiff Digs:

  • www.cardiffdigs.co.uk is a website for all student housing and living needs and aims to support you with information and advice about your time spent in Cardiff.
  • Whether moving from Halls to a house, living in private rented accommodation, or the community you are living and moving into, it aims to stop confusion about living and studying in Cardiff.
  • Tel/Ffon: 02920 871808
  • Mobile/Ffon Symudol: 07854381637
  • Email/E-bost: Emma.Robson@cardiff.gov.uk

Cardiff Council:

  • www.cardiff.gov.uk/c2c
  • Connect to Cardiff (C2C): the centre offers help and advice on Council services.
  • 029 2087 2087 (English)
  • 029 2087 2088 (Cymraeg)
  • Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 6:00pm

Housing Standards: Cardiff Council can assist you if you are concerned about the standards in your rented accommodation or the management practices of your landlord.

Rent Smart Wales:

Since 23 November 2016, all landlords in Wales must be registered and self-managing landlords and agents must have a license.

If your landlord or agent are not registered or licensed with us then they are breaking the law and you should contact us immediately.

Check if landlord or agent is registered / licensed using our online public register here: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/check-register/ 

 

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