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Student housing in Brighton: How to avoid being ripped off

Uni is stressful enough without having to worry about landlords

It's no secret that student letting agents aren't fun to deal with. The difficulties of student housing will hardly be a highlight of your time at university.

However, in an area as expensive as Brighton, students and first time renters are particularly more vulnerable to being scammed and exploited. The Tab Sussex has compiled a guide for what you need to know before you need before you move into your student digs.

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Double check your inventory covers all faults/issues with your house

When you move in to your house you will be asked to sign an inventory. Whilst pouring over every minute flaw in your dodgy student house may seem somewhat boring, for the sake of your deposit, double check that you have a written record of every visible flaw.

You may feel pressured to sign quickly, but signing is essentially giving consent that you are happy with the condition that the house is in. One flatmate is responsible for signing the inventory, so make sure that you collectively agree that any amendments have been made to the inventory.

Make sure the photos properly illustrate the faults/issues

Once the inventory is emailed to you, make sure that the photos attached fully show any previous damage. From personal experience, sometimes the images citing particular problems doesn't reflect the whole damage – i.e. this inventory only showing part of the mattress.

When it comes to checking out, if the full damage isn't pictured, you may be liable for deductions from your deposit.

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Mould in a student house

Save all your emails recording communication with your landlord/letting agency

If you have any issues with your house that you discover after the initial signing for your inventory, contact your letting agent straight away with photographic evidence if possible. Your house has been promised to you in a certain condition and you have the right for your landlord to uphold this for you.

In my previous student house, it took six months for Co-apt to fix our toilet (which if used, overflowed with faeces) after numerous attempts at written communication. Because of the delay in resolving this issue, myself and the other tenants were awarded compensation of £440 each.

Disputing your charges

When it comes to moving out of your humble abode, you can guarantee that your letting agent will try and hold on to every penny they can. Deposits being unfairly withheld is a huge issue in Brighton – the Tab Sussex previously reported on a case in which students fought back against G4Lets.

In some cases, slight phrasing changes between the check in and check out inventories can be used to try and hold on to as much of the deposit as possible. My flatmates and I created an Excel document illustrating how our deductions were in fact issues that existed prior to us moving into our house. As a result, we were able to get numerous items wavered.

Keeping the email with your check in inventory is vital, and may end up helping you to receive more of your deposit back.

Last resort measures

Tenants unions such as SolFed and ACORN provide great support and guidance for those who may be subject to deposit theft. Whether you need assistance through direct action, or just general advice, they are great at helping vulnerable tenants.

Renting as a student can be scary, It can be an overwhelming process with so much to learn. Hopefully this guide will help make life a bit easier and to help you avoid getting ripped off.