Negotiating Student Housing Contracts

Amber AkhtarAmber Akhtar
Last updated on:
July 27, 2022
Published on:
November 9, 2021

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Negotiating contractual terms and why your contract won’t like it

It is quite common for penultimate and final year student tenants to rent a private property, entering into an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, usually with a private landlord. The terms of a student tenancy agreement that differ between each individual agreement are:

Agreeing to the terms of a contract can often be a time consuming process. Many contracts, including NDA’s, SaaS agreements and Consultancy agreements, are subject to numerous revisions and negotiations between parties. Student tenancy agreements are unlikely to face the strains of negotiation, but the contracting process itself is often time consuming for both the landlord and tenant(s). 

Traditional contracting

Traditionally a tenancy agreement template is sent via email or post to the tenant(s) to complete and return. This is problematic for many reasons, the tenant(s) may return an incomplete template, provide insufficient detail, fail to read the terms of the agreement or fail to return the agreement all together.

In addition, many landlords are still operating with a filing cabinet system in which hardcopies of the agreement are stored in a filing cabinet. This results in the landlord having an administrative burden, which increases the length of time needed to locate an agreement and increases the risk of agreements being misplaced or lost.

Are any terms varied? 

It is uncommon for tenant(s) to negotiate the terms of their tenancy agreement. In most cases the tenant(s) will search online to find a property that is priced within a certain budget and meets the necessary requirements e.g. distance from university, included amenities, en-suite etc.

There are some areas the tenant(s) may want to vary, some of which include the start date, end date and the length of the tenancy. The tenant(s) may also request the landlord for an all inclusive option in which the landlord is responsible for payment of all bills including council tax, gas and electricity. The amount of rent payable will increase as the cost of the bills will be reflected in the amount of the rent. 

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Areas the landlord is unlikely to vary

In scenarios where a tenant is an international student or has no previous renting history the landlord may require the tenant to have a guarantor. This provides the landlord with assurance that the rent will be paid in full and on time, the property will be kept in a good state of repair and the tenant(s) will comply with the agreement. In cases of non-payment the landlord may pursue the guarantor for payment. The landlord will be unwilling to negotiate the requirement for a guarantor although it is entirely at the landlord's discretion and the landlord may consider whether the tenant(s) pays the rent in full before moving in. 

The landlord will require the tenant(s) to pay a deposit, which is up to 5 weeks’ of rent, payable before moving in. It is unlikely the landlord will remove the requirement for the deposit as it provides financial security to cover the cost of any damage done to the property during the tenancy. The tenant(s) will be wary of forfeiting a substantial amount of money and so will ensure the property is maintained to the landlord’s satisfaction.

Other areas include keeping a pet, making alterations or decorating the property. The landlord will want to ensure that the property is maintained to a high standard, allowing someone to live in your property is a risk in itself and by allowing the tenant(s) to have entire freedom to do what he/she wishes to the property could result in irreversible damage or a financial loss for the landlord. 

 Implications of varying terms

Appointing a legal professional to draft an agreement for each individual tenancy agreement can be quite costly. Landlord’s may purchase one agreement and amend to reflect the terms of each individual tenancy or download a template online. This can be problematic for a number of reasons:

  • Typos - it is easy to make errors when inputting details into an agreement. It is important to include all tenant(s) details accurately to ensure the agreement is valid.
  • Legality - when making changes to an agreement it is likely that some changes may impact the body of the text, which could invalidate the legality of the clause or nullify the agreement all together.
  • Missing text - it is important that all clauses relevant to the agreement are included, manually inserting or altering the agreement could result in key clauses being lost. 
  • Online templates - the template may not adequately protect the landlord/tenant(s) interests in the agreement or include all the relevant clauses.

Legislate  provides both landlord and the tenant(s) with the peace of mind that the agreement will protect their interests in the tenancy agreement. The landlord is able to select the terms required for the agreement which ensures all necessary clauses are included in the agreement. The tenant is also able to review the agreement at ease, whether it be reviewing the agreement as a whole or searching the relevant terms to highlight the required text. The administrative burden on the landlord is also reduced as the agreements are available on the platform, to preview and/or download. The parties can locate their agreement at the click of a button, which saves the need for a filing cabinet! Read our tutorial to learn how to create your tenancy agreements in minutes with Legislate.

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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.

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