A guide to moving in and out of properties
Whether you are moving in or out of a property there will be things you can do beforehand to make it is as stress-free as possible. So read on and get clued up!
So you are moving out soon? Find out here how to make it a trouble free affair and get your deposit back quickly. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of our deposit leaflet ‘Accommodation Deposit Guide’ for more information. This will provide guidance on getting your deposit back, examples of deposit deductions (to be avoided!), non-return of deposits, and information on the Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes.
Getting concerned about what is expected?
Why not ask your landlord/ agent to do an inspection to point out anything you should do to return the house in an acceptable condition?
If you are renting from a university, college or a larger owner, they may have provided you with a tenants’ handbook or special end of tenancy notes which give you full details about what is expected. This may include a list of charges you may incur if any work is needed once the property is returned to them. If you are not sure of anything ask now, don’t wait until you move out.
If you are renting a shared property you are all jointly responsible for its condition at the end of your tenancy. Generally, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom is 50% of the task of cleaning the whole property, so just cleaning your own room is not fairly contributing.
Taking a stand and not cleaning the house because no one else is will not be an acceptable reason to your landlord! You will all end up losing some of your deposits. Remember all the landlord/agent wants is a house returned in an acceptable condition to hand over to new tenants.
The landlord/agent may retain your deposit until you provide written proof showing that all the bills are paid. This may include an exemption letter for your council tax bills. This stipulation, if applicable, should be detailed in your contract.
A few weeks before you move out, contact the utility companies and let them know the final date of your tenancy. Read the meters on the final day and inform the company to close your account and get the final bill sent on to your forwarding address. Keep a record of the meter readings. As soon as you have paid the final bills make sure you send proof to the landlord/agent.
Something that will be on your mind over the summer is money! Having just paid out a deposit and possibly a summer rent retainer and not having another loan installment for a while, you will need to keep an eye on your finances over the summer. Now is the time to investigate whether you can boost your income maybe by getting a summer job or investigate if you can apply for bursaries, scholarships or academic competitions. The student advice centre will be able to advise you how you might go about this.
The next thing you need to do is look at what money is coming in and what money is going out and prioritise what you really need to spend your money on. If you know you are going to struggle to pay rent in August you need to start looking into where you can save money now. Can you cancel a gym membership that you never use or negotiate yourself a better bargain on your mobile? Rent, energy bills and course equipment are all essential out goings, if you can’t pay for these things you’ll find yourself in a mess pretty quickly. You will find it difficult to catch up with rent payments if you start off behind, if you know you are going to have money issues speak to your landlord and your Student Advice Centre in advance.
All the cool kids are budgeting these days, here are some tips to start the saving!
- Turn off lights and electrical appliances when you are not using them. Don’t leave things on standby and don’t leave your phone charger plugged in. Even turning the tap off while brushing your teeth will save you a bit of money.
- Do a bit of research. Can you get better deals on your gas, electric and internet supplier? Always check with your landlord before making any changes.
- Try shopping and cooking with house mates. Things that you all use, like washing up liquid might be more cost effective to buy as a group. If you take it in turns to cook with your friends you may find it saves you money and helps you eat better.
- Check out student finance websites such as student calculator, money saving expert and studentbeans.
Before you arrive
- Make sure you have contact details for your landlord and arrange a collection time for your keys. Top Tip: If there is a burglar alarm make sure the landlord gives you the code so you can use it straight away.
- Obtain contact details for your fellow housemates if you don’t already have them.
- Make sure you have a copy of the tenancy agreement for your reference.
- Consider the bank account that you will be using to pay your rent as it is important that rent payments are made on time. You will be charged if the payment doesn’t go through.
- It is worthwhile considering if you will really need your car in Leeds. You could save money by leaving your car at home and transport links are very good.
- Find out how parking works outside your house. Will you require a permit? How many spaces are available? Decide between your housemates which of you will bring cars to Leeds. As a house you will be able to apply for two student permits and one visitor’s permit. Student parking permits are free of charge and valid for one year. If you need permits, try and organise them before you move in to avoid receiving hefty fines at the beginning of the year. To apply for a permit you will need to fill in an application form from the relevant local council and send proof of residency plus a valid certificate of motor insurance for your vehicle. A signed tenancy agreement will be accepted as proof of residence, so you can apply as soon as you receive this from your landlord.
- Try to organise a visitor’s permit before you move in so parents don’t receive a parking ticket when they are helping you and your housemates move in. If you do receive a ticket whilst your application for a permit is being processed you can appeal.
On the Day
When you get your keys and can finally move into your house, it’s probably a few months since you last saw it and it might be different to how you remember it. Be careful when you are moving in your belongings. Don’t leave the car or house open and unattended as this is a prime time for opportunist thieves to steal your valuables! Once you’re inside your property, check it thoroughly and consider how it compares with when you saw it at the time of signing the contract. Take photos of the property (including any wear and tear damage) so you have proof of its condition as you take over the occupancy. Inform the owner of anything you are concerned about straight away.
Check off the fixtures and fittings against the inventory (if available) and if anything is missing or damaged, make a note of it, take a photo and once again contact the landlord. If things are damaged, dirty or missing when you move in take photos and write a list of repairs in priority order and how you would like the issue resolving. Write to the landlord with this list, giving them a reasonable time in which to respond. If you do not report things at this point you may find yourself paying for it out of your deposit at the end of the year. Equally with your own possessions, you may want to identify them by marking them with your postcode.
All properties should have a Periodic Electrical Safety Certificate and a Gas Safety Certificate. If you haven’t already done so, ask to see these and make a note of the renewal dates so that you are aware of whether they will need renewing during your tenancy.
Was the house clean when you arrived? If it wasn’t inform the owner in writing.
If there was a fire in the main access passageways of the house, could you get out?
Do any repairs need doing? If so, inform the owner in writing.
Decoration & Furniture
Does any decorating need doing? If so, find out who is going to do it and who is responsible for paying for it. Most owners don’t allow tenants to decorate, so don’t start putting up shelves or hammering nails into the wall without seeking the landlord’s permission. Some landlords may not allow blue tack on the walls so check this as well. If you require more cupboard space or new furniture in your room, ask your landlord if they can provide some. TOP TIP: If you bring furniture in to the house and wish to remove the landlords, check that they are ok with you storing it somewhere else and get this in writing
Take meter readings of your gas, electricity and water meters immediately. Register with the relevant utility companies and if possible register everyone in the house so that no one has to take individual responsibility. If you don’t jointly register and some one moves out it will be extremely difficult for you to get their share of the bills. TOP TIP: If you do not know who supplies your gas and electricity there are contact details at the end of this booklet for who will be able to tell you.
Can you find the stop taps for water, gas and electricity?
Living in the Community
Although certain areas in Leeds are considered ‘student areas’, they haven’t always been that way. Many areas have a higher proportion of year round residents than you might expect. Most students only live in these areas for a few years, but there are other residents who have lived there a lot longer. Sometimes friction builds up between students and neighbours. You can avoid this by thinking about how others might feel about what you’re doing - even if your neighbours are students too.
Security - Reducing the Risks
Security can be a problem in Leeds’ student areas. However, there are a number of ways you can reduce the risks.
- If a burglar alarm is fitted to your property, make sure you find out how to activate it and switch it on whenever the property is empty.
- Always lock exterior doors when coming in and out of properties and only leave windows unlocked if you are in the same room.
- Even when in the house, keep exterior doors locked to prevent intruders entering your property.
- Be wary of people calling at your door unexpectedly. Ask for ID from visitors claiming to require access to your home for a specific reason.
- Ensure your car is parked safely and is always locked. Don’t leave valuables in it!
- If you own a bike, ensure it is locked up securely.
- Take out insurance for your belongings if they are not already covered under your parents’ home insurance policy. Do your research and make sure you fully understand the policy. (For example, some policies may only insure valuables left in your room). By following the simple steps above you’ll ensure your personal safety and minimise the chances of becoming a victim of crime.
For more information on security in your home and personal safety when you are out and about please see the Knowledge website.
Throughout the year the police the Police will be teaming up with security staff from the various colleges and universities across Leeds to mark bikes on campus. Unfortunately cycle theft, especially on campus, is a fairly common crime. If you have your bike marked, Police will be able to track your bike back to you if it has been stolen and subsequently recovered. Click here for more Knowledge
Getting on with the neighbours
Remember you are part of a community - take some pride in it. There are many things you can do to live in the community successfully. When you arrive, introduce yourselves to your immediate neighbours and find out what they’re like. If they’ve got young children who may be disturbed by noise, be sensitive to this. Tell your neighbours about any parties and keep the noise down after 11pm if you have friends round. If you’re coming home late at night don’t talk loudly outside or bang car doors. Chances are that if you are considerate, your neighbours will be less likely to complain and more likely to look after your house while you’re away, which helps to improve the general security of the area.
Keep your garden free of litter. Cats and foxes can be a problem, so put your rubbish in strong black bags(carrier bags split too easily). If the area you live in has wheelie bins, make sure you wheel your bin out for collection on the correct day and put it back straight afterwards. If you persistently leave your wheelie bin on the street you can be fined. If your rubbish isn’t being collected regularly, contact the council and tell them.
For free collection of bulky items phone Leeds City Council on: 0113 222 4406
Code owners are asked to ensure that gardens are well maintained, if they don’t you or your neighbours can complain to Unipol. For non-Code properties check your contract to make sure who is responsible for the outside areas. It is important to keep hedges and tall plants under control as they can become a security risk.
Think about the community
If someone’s tipping in an alley way nearby, report it to the Council or the Neighbourhood helpline on 0113 343 1064. If an empty property is being vandalised report it to the police.
Want to do more?
If you’re concerned about issues in the area get involved in community groups, or the Unipol Student Forum, lots of students do. Ask at your Students’ Union for details of local community groups
Be house proud
If the outside of your house looks untidy put pressure on the owner or agent to improve things. If you have a garden try and keep it tidy.
Change of address details
There are some people you may need to inform of your change of address. You may want to consider:
- University/College when you re-register at the start of term
- Your bank / Building society
- Your car insurance providers
- Utility companies