How to read your tenancy agreement with student tenants
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A student tenancy agreement is a lease for an identified residential property granted to a Full Time Student for a specified term at an agreed rate. A student tenant unique by virtue of their status as a person studying at an educational institution. A student housing contract must therefore take this special status into account. This article looks at the core terms of a student tenancy agreement, in order to help landlords and letting agents when looking for the ideal contract template for their student tenants.
The term of a contract is its duration, as defined by the Commencement Date and End Date. Student tenancies usually run in sync with the academic year i.e. generally from September to June in the UK. Students are usually in their family home during holidays and the summer vacation so they are unlikely to occupy the property during these periods. For reasons such as upkeep, the contract should accommodate this.
Every tenancy agreement should mention the rates (both individual and total if there is more than one tenant), along with how often they are to be paid and the mode of payment. When discussing rates, the following payments are relevant:
- Rent — Rent is usually paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, but a student tenancy agreement may also accommodate for termly instalments i.e. rent is paid per semester. The actual rent due date needs to be mentioned so both parties are in agreement about the rental period (this may become relevant in the service of notices in the future).
- Deposit — The contract should mention the sum of the tenancy deposit. According to the law, all deposits for an AST need to be protected in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme, and if details of this are known at the time the contract is made, they can be mentioned. It is also very crucial that a contract specify under exactly what conditions the deposit will be withheld at the end of the tenancy.
- Utilities — Many landlords include bills and utility charges in the rent price in order to help students, so if this is the case, the contract must expressly identify these utilities. One common utility is council tax which full-time students are in a special class of people exempt from paying.
The contract should include details about the property itself such as its address, its contents and installations (e.g. whether it has a garden, garage, parking etc). This information is meant to be supplemented by an inventory which lists everything in the property and the condition it is in at the start of the tenancy.
Rights and Duties
The main point of contract is to explain the rights and duties that the landlord and tenant have in respect to each other. These undertakings concern use of the property itself, repairs and alterations, assignment and subletting, and so on. When renting to students, the tenants may be under certain duties not to disrupt each others’ studies in certain ways. These obligations need to be effectively communicated so that each party is aware of what is expected of them.
If there is more than one student tenant, the contract must specify whether or not their liability is joint and several i.e. where each tenant is liable for all costs as though they are the only tenant. This is a feature of a joint tenancy. Furthermore, some landlords require a responsible third party, such as a parent or a guardian, to act as a guarantor in the event the student defaults on their obligations under the tenancy agreement. A good contract will therefore offer its creator the option to include a guarantor clause where this applies.
The rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord at the end of the tenancy include questions of moving out and repossession. Termination also covers situations where the student defaults on the tenancy by, say, failing to pay rent or stopping to be a full-time student. At the end of the fixed term, if a student tenant keeps living in the property, a periodic tenancy is formed. This may not be an option for the landlord of students, especially if they intend to have new tenants move in at the start of the following academic year. It is important that the contract mention if tenants are expected to move out at the end of the fixed term in order for the landlord to prepare the property for new tenants.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only, and are not legal advice on which you should rely.