Taking the time to follow these steps when you're moving into a new property could save you a lot of stress in the future!
Make sure your deposit is protected
Most private landlords must register your deposit with a deposit protection scheme and send you information about the scheme within 30 days. This is a law created to make sure landlords don’t unfairly keep your money.
If you suspect your deposit hasn't been protected, check with each of the schemes to see if they have any record of you. You can find information about the schemes at these links:
Shelter has a deposit checker page to help you.
Get proof of the state of the property when you move in
This is very important! Make sure there's an inventory and take plenty of photos of the house at the start of your tenancy – this shows what was there when you moved in and if anything was already dirty or broken so your landlord can’t blame you later and try to keep your deposit.
You can make your own inventory if the landlord doesn't arrange one. Try to get the landlord to sign it along with everyone who lives in the house - if the landlord refuses to sign, get an independent witness to sign instead.
Shelter has more information about inventories.
Make sure you tell the landlord in writing if there is any disrepair in the house so you won't be blamed for it later and so that the landlord can repair it.
Make sure you won't be charged for council tax
If everyone in your property is a full-time student the whole household will be exempt.
The University sends a list of full-time students to the local councils of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke-on-Trent and Cheshire East. However, we still advise contacting your local council to tell them your name is on the list and to make sure they don't send you a bill. If you're living in another council area or if there are any problems with the list you can send them a student status letter - you can find this by logging into eVision, clicking on the 'Common Actions' button on the home page, then selecting the 'My Status Letter' button.
It is very important that you don't ignore correspondence from the council as they will keep pursuing you for council tax until they've confirmed your student status and you could still be liable for any costs the council has incurred, such as debt collectors and court fees, in spite of your council tax exemption.
*If you are sharing with someone who is not a full-time student the household will not be exempt and any non-student would be liable. However, if only one of you isn't a full-time student that person would be counted as a 'single person occupant' and get a 25% reduction.*
Read the meters
If you're responsible for bills, make sure you read the meters when you move in, to avoid being accidentally charged for the previous tenants' usage. Decide with your housemates what share of the bills everyone must pay, and whose name the bills will be in.
Protect your belongings
Your landlord's insurance will not cover your own belongings if they're stolen or damaged, so look into getting content insurance.