Most of the properties on our lists have not been inspected by accommodation services, although many have been successfully let to students in the past. It is therefore up to you to carry out your own inspection.
You should think very hard before accepting accommodation that requires several essential repairs. Be cautious of owners who promise that a lengthy list of repairs will be carried out before you move in. Any such repairs should have been carried out before viewing as there is a danger that they will not be completed before you move in. It is advisable that no tenancy agreement is signed until such repairs have been completed.
Read the gas and electricity meters as soon as you move in to ensure that you only pay for units you use. If you are in a group, one of you may have to accept responsibility for gas and electricity bills. However, it is advisable to put all the names of your co-sharers on the account, that way you are all liable for the bill. Check with the individual service supplier.
It is also very important to locate important things like the main switches to turn off the gas and electricity, and the mains water supply stop, so that you can find them quickly in case of emergency.
Once you have moved into the property it is wise to check that everything is clean and in good order. This would be especially important if you have paid a deposit, as a deduction may be made to cover breakages or cleaning at the end of your stay.
It is important to promptly report any repairs to the owner in writing. Problems can occur when you report disrepair over the phone; you may speak to the wrong person, the message may be lost or the incorrect details could be taken down. However, you may find some owners unenthusiastic about paying for unexpected but necessary repairs. Send a follow-up letter stating that the repairs are still outstanding. Depending on the nature of the disrepair, give the owner between 24 hours and 36 hours to respond.
You may have signed a contract with an agent who in turn represents an owner. You should report disrepair's to the agent with a copy to the owner, if the agent continually fails to undertake repairs. You have a legal right to the full name and address of the owner within 21 days of making a written request.
The Local Authority Housing Advice Centre can help with advice. If the owner/agent fails to respond and the repair could be classed as an emergency, contact the Local Authority Environmental Health Officer who can be asked to visit and inspect the property and insist that the repairs are carried out.