Know your rights
Make sure you are well informed of your rights and responsibilities before signing a tenancy agreement. This is true for housing contracts as well as things such as mobile phones, bills and other subscriptions.
Student Advice & Guidance offer contract checking appointments as do the University of London Housing Services. For more information take a look at our article Can I get help with my accommodation contract before I sign it?
You can also find useful information about your rights and responsibilities when renting by visiting Shelter: Housing advice - Private renting.
If you have any maintenance issues with your property, don’t forget to report these to the landlord/agency in writing as soon as you find them. These could range from a broken light or outlet not working, to issues with heating, hot water or even mould.
A landlords’ responsibility for repair only kicks in once they have been notified of the issue by the tenants. If a small problem gets worse and ends up causing damage to the property, the tenant could be liable to pay for repairs due to the original issue not being reported to the landlord.
For more information around disrepair in your rented home please visit Shelter: Landlord and tenant responsibilities for repairs.
Winters in the UK are long, cold and wet, so it is important to think about how to keep yourself and your house warm to avoid getting ill, as well as issues such as damp or frozen pipes.
Be prepared and put your heating on a timer so that it is warm before you get up and warm when you get in from lectures, but not wasting energy by being on all day. In the winter months it is important to keep your thermostat on a low heat at all times to ensure that your pipes do not freeze and cause damage to the property. This is especially important if you are away from the property for prolonged periods, such as over the Christmas break.
Splitting the cost is the best way to manage your household bills when living in a flatshare. It can be tricky to keep on top of spending when you need to pay for gas, electricity, broadband, water, TV licence. Using free apps like Splittable or other bill-splitting apps can help you to manage your money and see clearly who owes who what. Splittable even lets you set a friendly reminder to ensure that everyone in the house has paid up on time!
Budgeting can also help you to manage your money stress free.
Take a look at our article Top tips on managing your money during your studies and other articles in our Fees, funding & money advice category for advice on how to manage your money.
Look after your laundry
If you’re living independently for the first time, you may not be familiar with managing washing and laundry, so we’ve put together some tips to help you.
This is a common stain which can cause issues because it’s dark and can be hard to remove.
- First, make sure other items of clothing are out of harm’s way. Then use kitchen roll and soak up as much excess wine as you can.
- Next, keep it damp. You’ve probably heard the tip of soaking it in white wine, but this is often not be the quickest option or the most cost effective. Cool water will do.
- Important to know: Don’t use hot water!
- Use salt to shake onto the damp fabric. Salt absorbs the wine and helps lift the stain, standard table salt will do.
- If you have access to a washing machine there and then, it is best to get the stain out as soon as possible. You can apply some pre-stain remover
,or make your own with a bit of baking soda and water.
- Then wash as normal (preferably at 30 degrees or lower).
- Your stain should now be removed. If that didn’t work, try the last two steps again. If it is still there, you might consider buying some clothes dye and make the whole item of clothing red to hide the stain…
For more tips on how to remove other stains visit Stain Removal Tips.
Everyone knows the story of the white shirt which was washed with the red jumper, and a new pink wardrobe ensued. Be careful.
When you are loading the washing machine, put the items in one by one and shake out any trousers which may have clothes trapped in them. Check all your pockets; remove any tissues, pens, earphones and money.
If you don’t have many whites but need to do a wash, ask your flatmates if they have any and you can load the washing machine together so you are saving time and electricity.
These can be hard to interpret if you’re not familiar with them. All clothing labels will have information instructing how they should be cared for – washing temperatures, cycles and whether or not they can be ironed, tumbled dried or if they should be dry cleaned. It is advisable to always check these labels on new clothes.
For guidance on these symbols read What do the washing symbols on wash care labels mean?
For more handy tips visit Cleanipedia.
Living with other people can sometimes be challenging. It is common for disagreements to arise which are related to living issues, whether it’s about keeping communal areas clean or issues with noise. Good communication between flatmates/housemates is always the key to resolving issues such as these.
If your housemates are unaware of an issue that is bothering you, try speaking to them about it; together you may be able to resolve the issue before it becomes a huge problem. It is also important to put any agreements between housemates into writing at the start of your tenancy to minimise the potential for disputes to arise later on.
If you are finding it difficult to settle into your accommodation due to tenant disputes, there are a number of services you may find it beneficial to speak to about the issue:
There are so many great things to get involved in London. Outside of Zone 1 there are some really cool and quirky places! Why not check out Camden Town, Columbia Road Flower Market or even Stratford Westfield shopping centre and the Olympic Village. Not to mention all the parks, theatres, free museums and galleries.
These websites will give you ideas for exploring:
If you have any concerns or feel you need support, we are here to help and can provide a safe and confidential space for you to talk through any issues which are causing you concern. We can guide you on finding somewhere suitable to live and advise on any housing problems you may be experiencing. We also advise on a range of money issues including money management, budgeting, challenging funding decisions and welfare benefits.
We have lots of helpful articles in Housing & accommodation support and Fees, funding & money advice, and where articles can’t help, our skilled advisers are on hand to support you.
Please rest assured that if we are unable to help with your enquiry, we will refer you for assistance with another team. To make the most of your session, please always bring a copy of your tenancy agreement with you.
Use online resources
We have a host of videos you can watch on a wide of topics on Advice & Guidance media covering topics such as Navigating Private Sector Housing, Financial Wellbeing, Thriving in London, and more.
We also have online learning module to help you gain more insight and learn how to navigate the complexities of renting with:
There are also lots of external websites with guidance on living in your home and renting: