Services in the Housing Office
In addition to our Head Lease Scheme for students, a number of services are available in the Housing Office:
- A board advertising the rooms that are vailable for students in off-campus houses looking for a fellow student to take up residency in a spare room.
- A 'Rooms Wanted' board, for students looking for an off-campus room with fellow students. You can also use this board to contact others who may want to get into a group and rent a whole property.
- Lodgings are rooms in a resident landlord's own home, in which you share bathroom and kitchen facilities. This is often a good choice for those working on a strict budget.
- General housing advice, including advice about different areas and where to look for rooms or properties, as well as information on all aspects of housing.
- Make sure you can afford the rent, the utility bills and your living costs such as food and travel.
- There have been many cases of people losing sometimes thousands of pounds to untrusty conmen who use sites such as Facebook and Gumtree as a front. Some cases were documented by the BBC's Watchdog programme during 2008. Don't be caught out.
- Don't panic and take the first property you see - there are plenty more out there, so view a few before making your decision.
- Don't be too limited in terms of areas - sometimes a property a little further away is the nicest.
- Looking through agents? Ask before you view how much their fees are and what they are for.
- Beware of items in disrepair. Make it clear that you will not sign a contract unless these are put right.
- Don't accept any property where there is major building work to be carried out.
- You have the right to take a copy of the contract away to read and understand it and get it checked out if necessary. The ARC at UBS offer a free lease checking service.
- Don't sign a contract if you are in any doubt about your exam results! Contracts are very hard to get out of.
- If you are in a group, make sure you can live with your housemates for the coming year!
- If you are in a group, all housemates should sign the contract so that you are all equally responsible.
- Make sure you take meter readings on moving in and set up your utilities accounts - gas, water and electric. Do the same when you are moving out - phone the readings through to the utility companies to close the accounts.
- And don't forget Council Tax! If you are a full-time student you are exempt from Council Tax. You will need to obtain an exemption certificate from the Student Centre or e-Vision to give to the Council Tax office. We do advise you to get a receipt from the local authority, just in case your certificate goes missing!
Overview of HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation)
"If you live in a property in which three or more people live, at least one of whom is unrelated to the others and where you share facilities, your council will call this type of accommodation a 'House in Multiple Occupation' or HMO." Direct.gov.uk
HMO properties will typically have fire doors, hard wired and interlinked smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and so on.
If the property houses five or more people it will also require a license.
In all cases, landlords must obtain and provide for their tenant's current gas and electrical safety certificates. Gas certificates must be renewed annually, and electric certificates are valid for between three and five years.
For more detailed information on HMO legislation, please see the Letting information page.
Firstly, a repair is not a repair until you report it! Why? If your landlord doesn't know about it, he or she cannot arrange for it to be fixed!
The simplest way to get repairs completed is to have one person from the property liaising with the landlord, and not four people ringing about the same repair.
Give your landlord the full details and he or she will make the arrangements to carry out the repair work. If no one arrives on the day to carry out the repair or if the workman tells you he will speak to the landlord about further work or parts, you will need to speak to the landlord as soon as possible to find out what will happen next. If it is found that the repair is the fault of one of the tenants or their visitors, this will be recharged to either the group as a whole or to the individual responsible.
Reporting repairs - checklist
Be prepared with the following information when reporting all repairs:
- Your name, property address and details of who to contact to arrange access to carry out the repair, including what times this person is available
- Details of the repair, eg for a water leak: When did you first notice it? Where is it coming from?
- Details of any action you have taken, eg have you turned off the mains water stopcock?
If you smell gas, call Transco immediately on 0800 111 999.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme - what does it mean to me as a tenant?
Tenancy deposit legislation was introduced on 6th April 2007 and provides protection for tenants by preventing landlords and letting agents from unfairly withholding a deposit. The scheme protects all Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales (covering most tenancies since 1997) - Direct.gov.uk.
What is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
The schemes allow tenants to get all or part of their deposit back when they are entitled to it and encourage tenants and landlords to make a clear agreement from the start on the condition of the property. It ensures that:
- you get all or part of your deposit back, when you are entitled to it;
- any disputes between you and your landlord or agent will be easier to resolve;
- landlords and letting agents who do not protect tenancy deposits will have to pay their tenant back three times the deposit.
There are two types of tenancy deposit protection schemes available for landlords and letting agents. Both provide a free dispute resolution service.
In all types of schemes your deposit must be protected and details of the schemes given to you within 30 days of paying the money over.
Hints and tips for living off campus
When you first move into your new home, it's wise to get a good understanding of your area and the people to whom you will be a neighbour.
The following pointers should help you:
- Familiarise yourself with your property, ie locate the water stopcock, fuseboard, electric, water and gas meters.
- Take meter readings of gas, electric and water, and set up utility accounts. Don't forget to get your Council Tax exemption certificate and send it to the Local Authority.
- Find out what day of the week general rubbish is collected, and what day of the week (or fortnight) recycling is collected.
- Walk around the area to find out the location of your closest transportation links and the local shops.
- Introduce yourself to the people living next door to you! Should problems arise it's always handy to have known your neighbour for while rather than having to introduce yourself in an emergency.
Living in the local community
Our 'Living outside campus' leaflet gives you some hints and tips about living in the community and getting on with your neighbours - helpful for expanding your knowledge.
All of our students are Ambassadors for the University, whether they live on campus or off-campus and how they behave reflects on the University’s good name.
Living in the local community brings responsibilities – not only maintaining a house and paying bills, but also in learning how to live amicably and considerately with your neighbours.
Each year there is a small minority who have no pride in Brunel and let down not only the University but also their fellow students, by bringing the good name of the University into disrepute through their behaviour.
For this small minority the University will use its full disciplinary powers to restore its’ good name, which could ultimately mean expulsion from the University, for those individuals.
The University works closely with the London Borough of Hillingdon and the local Police in monitoring and tackling bad behaviour caused by their students.
The Advice and Representation Centre (ARC)
The ARC is situated within the Hamilton Centre and is one of the services provided by the Union of Brunel Students (UBS).
If you need advice in relation to housing, immigration, debts and money (to name but a few) then the ARC is there for you, providing free, confidential advice.
Visit the ARC website to find out more.