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What should I check before renting a room?

Moving is a big step so make sure it is to the right place

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Moving out whether for the first time or to a new place can be a big step so it is important that you are happy with your accommodation. To make sure you find somewhere to rent which will suit your needs it is important to ask your landlord questions before you move in and to make sure you are happy with the standard of the accommodation before you sign your lease.

Advice for renting a new room

Understand where your money is going

Deposits are usually the same amount as the first month's rent so it is important to understand what your deposit goes towards.

  • Ask your landlord how much is the deposit and if you need to pay rent in advance
  • Get a receipt for any money paid at the start
  • Find out what are the conditions for getting your deposit back
  • Take pictures of the room(s) for potential damage when you move in so you don't get charged for it when you leave

Some students find that when it comes to asking for their deposit back, the landlord charges them for damage already done to the flat. Make sure that the landlord gives you a list of what's in the flat and anything that needs to be repaired before you move in. Then you can't be asked to pay for anything already broken or damaged.

Understand the terms of your lease

Your lease is a legal contract so it is important ask questions before signing it.

Ask questions like:

  • What happens if one flatmate leaves?
  • Will we have to pay their rent?
  • Who will be responsible for finding a new person?

Make sure you know how much notice you have to give before leaving.

Only sign a lease/contract for the length of time you are planning on staying there for - an academic year is different to a year so make sure the dates on any lease are Sept-May and not 12 months.

Know your rights as a tenant

  • Get your landlords phone number and email address so you can contact them if you have any issues
  • Ask if you can make any amendments to the house, like putting a nail in the wall to hang a picture?
  • Make sure you look for a receipt for the deposit and request a rent book if you are paying rent in cash
  • When viewing a place that requires repairs, make sure they are carried out before you move in
  • If your bills are separate to rent, make sure you are only paying for what you used by checking the electricity metre 
  • Safety's important, check if there are fire escape routes and fire extinguishers
  • Check for signs of dampness especially in older houses 
  • Look inside cupboards, at the ceilings and on furniture for damp patches or mould

Insure your valuable belongings

If you are moving into a new home with people you do not know it is a good idea to get your valuables insured. Look into getting your laptop insured or getting contents insurance as your landlord's insurance won't cover your belongings were something to be damaged or the house broken into.

For more information about your rights as a tenant check out our Accommodation section on

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Published April 12th2018
Last updated Decem­ber 14th2018
Tags renting lease deposit landlord money insurance
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