Every year, as early as October, some landlords and agents start to ask their current tenants (who’ve just moved in) to decide whether or not they want to renew their contract for the following year. As students are not experienced renters, they often don’t challenge this request, and so we're telling you "Don't Rush To Rent".
There is no need to panic. Stay calm. You're not going to miss out. And it's best to wait until after Christmas before you commit to a housing contract for next year.
Here are the main points to consider.
1. How well do you know your housemates?
It''s easy to feel like you've found your soulmates already but a lot can change over a year and we often find that friendship groups start changing in Term Two as students start to get to know one another better or get more involved in other activities. Get through Christmas, see how things are, and then work from there.
2. Committing early = more money
Students generally have less cashflow and committing early to a new property will impact that even more. Instead give yourself more time to save up and shop around to find yourself the best deal. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to wait until your Maintenance Loan drops in January before putting a deposit down for the next academic year.
3. It's a lot of pressure
Once you've paid a deposit then you only have 2 weeks to sign your contract. If you don't sign within two weeks, you will lose the holding fee (maximum one week's rent) - this puts unfair pressure on you, especially considering most agents/landlords don't offer to show you the contract at this point. Just imagine if the contract included clauses you wouldn't be willing to accept e.g. no overnight guests.
4. You Sign.... You're Committed
Once you've got a contract then the only way out generally is to find a replacement student to take it over. If you head over to student groups on Facebook you will notice there are far more people advertising rooms than there are people looking for rooms and most people looking for a replacement tenant do not find one.
5. Rent prices may drop in Term 2
There are more student properties than there are students in the area and as the academic year goes on, you'll find some landlords will lower their prices to attract students. Dont' rush into things now. give it time and consider your options.
6. Many properties won't be advertised until Term 2
Have a look at the contracts and most state that tenants don't have to decide whether or not to renew their contract until the final two months of their tenancy. For this reason, many properties won't be advertised until much later in the year.
7. You can get a better deal the later you sign
It can be a pain getting tied into a 12-month contract when you know you won't be living in the property all year round e.g. if you're heading back home for the summer. You have the right to request a 10-month contract or ask if the landlord/agent is willing to lower the rent price. You don't ask, you don't get, so you could save yourself hundreds by just holding on.
8. Some actions are unethical or illegal
Some agents/landlords use demand from students in Term One to justify malpractice. Within a month of moving in, they start pressuring students to decide whether or not they want to renew the contract for next year. Telling them the property will be advertised to others if they don't renew straight away. This is unethical and an illegal high-pressure sales tactic. Contractually, tenants often don't have to decide or allow viewings until much later in the contract.
We know that housing plays a significant role in your university experience, which is why it's important that you take your time and don't rush into any decisions that you may later regret! Don't Rush To Rent. Get more advice here.