Second Year Accommodation - Joint & Several Contracts

(61 Posts)
BlueStringPudding Thu 03-Dec-15 18:59:07

DD2 has found a house that she and her friends want to rent next year. There are 7 of them in total, and the house is 'perfect'. The problem is that it is a 'Joint and Several' contract, not just for the students but for the guarantors as well.

This means we're being asked to guarantee not only DD's rent but also her 6 other housemates - who she hasn't known very long. It seems that if one or more of DD's friends leaves the house and they don't find replacements, or indeed if someone just doesn't pay, that the rest of us will be liable for the rent, and the Landlord can, if they wish, just target one guarantor to pay the outstanding amount.

Apparently the other parents are happy with this, and the agent says this is normal for this city and that the terms are non-negotiable. DD1 in a nearby city is on an individual tenancy so we only had to be guarantor for her.

I'm not happy about this, but DD says that I'm being unreasonable and that they will lose the house and won't find another good one if we refuse to sign this contract.

The University Guild advice recommends guarantors only sign for their share, but the Agents I've looked at so far all seem to quote 'Joint and Several' so feeling a bit stuck.

Has anyone any experience with this? Do we just have to go for it and hope for the best, or can we hold out and trust that they will find another house with individual tenancies - it is still quite early, but there seems to be a lot of panic about the shortage of 'good' student houses..

lljkk Thu 03-Dec-15 19:16:23

Can I ask what city? one to avoid?

If demand is that high, there shouldn't be trouble filling any empty spaces that might come up.

eatyourveg Thu 03-Dec-15 19:20:44

ds is in London and we specifically asked the landlord to put us on the lease as only his guarantor and no-one elses. The agent was happy to do it.

BlueStringPudding Thu 03-Dec-15 19:31:17

Exeter - not sure if the demand is actually that high though. I think it's all hype.

Any spaces are likely to arise mid year though, and so could be difficult to fill..

lljkk Thu 03-Dec-15 20:00:56

The mid-year problem will be the same whether they sign now or last minute, I suppose.

Student housing seems so complicated on MN! Never was when I was a student. [confuse]

caroldecker Thu 03-Dec-15 20:06:35

From this article:

Virtually students all will be asked in their tenancy agreement to commit to "joint and several liability"

Millymollymama Thu 03-Dec-15 20:24:26

It is natural to worry that your DC will be left with a larger bill than they expect but in practice not many students leave midway through Year 2. There might be an odd one who would move in, but in practice that is a difficult scenario too. If someone pulls out this year, at least they have a chance to get someone else. You really do have to go with the flow for your particular university city. At least it is not a house of 3! If the house is perfect, then it is a no brainer!

BlueStringPudding Thu 03-Dec-15 21:53:05

Have been googling a bit, and it seems that although Joint and Several contracts are common for students, it is not common for the guarantors to be asked to cover more than their own child.

The University have an accredited website which doesn't open until early January, so I think we will ask them to keep looking,and see how it goes for a bit..

They think it's 'perfect' but it only had a breakfast bar, and so no dining table, although apparently there is a pool table they could put a board on or something. One of the 7 was talking about dropping out a few weeks ago as well, although as you say they would have time to find someone for a room by July..

stonecircle Thu 03-Dec-15 22:58:54

Bluestring - I have a ds in his first year at Exeter and started a separate accommodation thread recently. This was prompted by fact that the 3 people he's planning on sharing with next year had found 'the perfect house' and wanting him to go with them to the letting agent that to pay the £125 (each) admin fee. He wasn't too worried about the fact that he hadn't seen it(!) - he hadn't been able to go with them to the viewing - but he thought it was expensive (£120pw). He is a terrible procrastinator and doesn't like to feel railroaded into things so was dithering about what to do.

They did go to the letting agent but he didn't pay the fee as he said he needed more time to think. He did, however, forward me some of the documentation they were given - I've just checked and it does talk about joint and several. Which I'm quite surprised by as ds told me I would be the guarantor - but just for him!

If you look on the uni accommodation blog they are telling people not to panic and to wait until Student Pad launches on 12 January. I did end up ringing the accommodation office as ds was getting quite stressed about what to do. The person I spoke to said to wait until January. So, as far as I know, that is what they are doing. But I am now stressing about whether or not they will find something decent given that so many other students seem to be cracking on with finding places. It would be nice to have it sorted before the end of term rather than worrying about it over the break.

Can I ask what rent your dd is going to be paying? DS knows someone in his second year who told him that £120, excluding bills, was too much and he should be looking at £100-110pw max. The lady in the accommodation office said that houses in the street ds and his friends were looking at typically cost £90pw last year (with landlords on the university's books).

BlueStringPudding Thu 03-Dec-15 23:36:04

stonecircle they were looking at £115 pw excluding bills. There was an admin fee and I think it was about £125 - which x 7 is a significant amount for 'admin'.

Yes I sent DD the link to Student Pad as well, she had already seen it, but seems to think that there won't be that many properties on there or that it will be some kind of scrum. That's interesting re the rent being £90pw on the same street. I do think that maybe the agents are encouraging this panic to offload some properties at a premium price before the accredited ones are launched.

I will go find your other thread too..

stonecircle Thu 03-Dec-15 23:57:18

I can't see how there won't be a scrum really. I'm just hoping that there will be lots of accommodation available. I was trying really hard not to get involved but to leave it up to ds. I don't know Exeter or what the rental market is like there so I'm in no position to advise him. I just hope he's doing the right thing in waiting and that the person I spoke to knows what she is talking about! DS is currently about 20 minutes walk from campus (and was very disappointed not to get a hall on campus) so I really want him to be happy with where he is next year.

Millymollymama Fri 04-Dec-15 12:29:49

Often the student rental market is completely different to the "normal" rented sector. Often students will be prepared to live in "dumps" a family or more discerning renters would not. Landlords have higher overheads with students due to wear and tear. The main criteria, I think, is would you actually live in that house? Have you got a quality landlord who will fix things? What do the current students say about the house? Are they happy that maintenance jobs are done and the bills are not extortionate because of lack of insulation etc? Is it a secure neighbourhood?

There is going to be a difference in rents on a street because some properties may be recently renovated with a washing machine and dishwasher, fridges, freezers, new showers, nice garden etc while other properties, on the same street, may be party pads. Therefore address is not necessarily anything to go by. Frequently student houses do not have dining tables. It is a fact of life that dining rooms are used as bedrooms. Therefore the kitchen or lounge should be big enough to seat a number of students who wish to eat at the same time, but dining tables are not always provided and living rooms/kitchens ay be all in one space.

My DD, although at a different university, did wait until the January slot because very litte was available before Christmas. (Her university advised waiting until September!) After Christmas it was a real scrum to get somewhere decent in the right place. No-one took much notice of the university advice because it was only geared to people who would accept the rubbish that was left.

When looking for property, you really have to either; accept the views others, whom you trust, to say a property is good, or do the legwork yourself. There may be lots of acommodation available, but how much of it is good accommodation? If there are lots and lots of properties advertised now, then now is the time to grab one. If there are just a few then waiting is not a bad idea. However, sitting back and letting others do the work and then procrastinating, it not helpful. My DD had one hour to make a decision for her flat and lots of prospective renters were touring the same day. They all wanted the property! The agent will go with the ones who cough up first. We did not act as guarantors to other students, just our own. However, the landlord will require the agreed rent and this may well start on 1 July, not 1 October. You may well pay for the summer when the house is empty. If the rental period is from 1 October, then this could account for rental appearing expensive as it is adjusted upwards to cover the summer.

lljkk Fri 04-Dec-15 12:34:56

I sort of thought most Unis had inspection services to make sure community student rentals meant minimum standards. At least the rentals advertised thru the channels that University controls have to meet minimum standards.

Millymollymama Fri 04-Dec-15 12:38:40

Rightmove has pages of student properties on its books for Exeter but lots are highly prices halls. There are pictures that will give you an idea of what the standard properties are like for the money they are charging. There are many at £110 - £120 pw, and plenty cheaper. However, I do not know which of these are desirable locations. I think there will be lots more later, but you also have to factor in the size of the property required. Very big ones (7 upwards) will be fewer in number.

BlueStringPudding Fri 04-Dec-15 12:46:58

Have spoken to a graduate who left Exeter a year ago. She said that there is not a shortage of housing. The ones situated between the University and the Town Centre are very popular and go quickly as and when they come on - some early, some later.

Both years she signed for houses in the second term, and she said that even in the summer term there are plenty of houses near St David's train station.

So they won't end up sleeping on park benches, but they may not get a house in that very popular area unless they move very quickly when they see one they want..

Millymollymama Fri 04-Dec-15 15:43:04

I think, lijkk, that the student rental sector is far too big for university housing officers to check every property and every letting agent. In a large university city there are thousands of properties occupied by students. There are minimum standards of what should be provided but the standard of decoration and speed of repairs is difficult to control. Landlords also promise to do something and then take months to do it. That is why asking the current students in the property about their experiences really helps get a feel for the quality of the property and the landlord. I feel it is misplaced optimism to rely on university housing officers to sort out the good from the bad.

lljkk Fri 04-Dec-15 16:56:01

The way it used to work (still works??, that I was familiar with) is the landlord has to send in certificates, for things like fire safety & I dunno what, in order to advertise on the Uni housing service. The onus was on the landlord who wanted student £££. The students are heavily advised to only go thru this service to find off campus accommodation. Uni coughs up the money for the service as part of their pastoral duties.

Presumably anyone can advertise in local paper, on gumtree, etc. without that stuff.

stonecircle Fri 04-Dec-15 18:14:46

That's really useful to know BlueString - thank you for posting that. Much better to hear from someone with first hand recent experience than to speculate. Will your dd go ahead with the property they have found?

BlueStringPudding Fri 04-Dec-15 20:18:04

No, as a couple of the parents are saying that we are not happy with guaranteeing the whole house. So still looking..

Persipan Fri 04-Dec-15 23:00:07

If you don't want to act as guarantor to a whole house, maybe suggest they look at private halls. They could get a flat together as a group, but would have individual contracts so no-one would be liable for anyone else's rent. Plus, bills and such would be included, so it's a bit simpler on that front. They'll probably be all "but we want a hoooouuuuuusssseeeee", but maybe encourage them to book a couple of viewings at bigger private halls and see what they think?

Needmoresleep Sat 05-Dec-15 09:14:49

lljkk, there is a whole raft of legislation protecting tenants. I don't know if student accommodation offices require more, but any tenant should ask to see the Gas safety certificate, and the inventory should confirm that the fire alarms are working. (Though if battery operated, the tenants should also test once a month...and not take the batteries out. )

There will be even more if the house is a House of Multiple Occupation, which it would need to be if it has more than two storeys or five or more tenants (and fewer in some circumstances). Easy to check if it is licensed with the council. There should be a private housing/HMO person in the housing department. As a landlord I avoid having HMOs as there are all sorts of further requirements to obtain the license such as internal fire doors etc.

On the guarantees the landlord presumably thinks they have a property they can rent easily. They want to make sure they get their money. Joint and several liability is standard for any shared tenancy. Though its tough to trust people you don't know, that is in part the nature of sharing. It is vital that DC do not leave Univeristy with a record of unpaid debts, so if someone defaultedparents might want to stump up anyway. How about swapping parents emails and agreeing between you how to manage it. If all sound reasonable it will be less of a risk. You could also pin DC down on how they manage bills. One each perhaps.

In London, with the large number of overseas students it is often 6 months rent in advance, two month deposits and 12 months contracts. This works as if the second payment does not come through, students would be evicted just before their exams!

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sat 05-Dec-15 10:21:46

Grrr ... I've just had an email from a landlord saying "as you will be aware, noits-ds and 4 others have applied for the tenancy of X house etc etc Thank you for agreeing to act as guarantor along with the other tenants' parents"

Eh??? First I've heard of it hmm. I'm torn between being quite impressed that he's been so proactive and bloody annoyed that he's just assuming we'll happily guarantee his rent without saying a word - and it's not like we're not in contact on a regular basis - harrumph

Brioche201 Sat 05-Dec-15 10:35:02

What o did was scan the deed in and then insert a 'not,' here and there. The letting agent didn't notice. This year D's did not have to have a guarantor so that was better

Needmoresleep Sat 05-Dec-15 10:43:16

Possibly because he already had a landlord reference?

Previous good references and an acceptable credit rating are really important if you want to rent somewhere decent in a tight property market on graduation.

BlueStringPudding Sun 06-Dec-15 00:16:41

We'll see what the terms are for the next house they find are I think. I am fine with Joint and Several for the students themselves, but would prefer just to be guarantor for DD, and this is what the Students' Guild recommends, so hopefully there is a reasonable choice of properties coming on in January..

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