housing

Where you live is a crucial part of your University experience. It's not ok for you to live in a cold, damp and run-down flat, nor should you be forced into signing a lease too early. You deserve top quality accommodation and you have the rights to that too. 

We want you to have the information to make sure you make the right decision when you are house-hunting and spend your time at Stirling in a home that makes you happy. Whether it’s your first time looking for accommodation or you’re moving into new accommodation, this page provides you with helpful hints and tips as well as useful contacts, rights and wrongs, laws and regulations and basic information on how to get the best property and the best landlord. We cannot provide legal advice, the info on this page was written in collaboration with Shelter Scotland. Please visit the links to Shelter Scotland for legal advice.


We've put together a helpful little checklist for you to take to viewings with you, click the image to download.
 

We hope that this page helps you avoid potential troubles you could experience, but if you do have any issues please get in contact with the people below for assistance. Housing is a human right; make sure you use yours to get the best digs you can in Stirling!

Your Union 01786 467166 theunion@stir.ac.uk

Shelter 0808 800 4444 email them here or visit their website here.

Accommodation Services 01786 467064 accommodation@stir.ac.uk

who do I live with and where do I want to live?
For all you first time house hunters it may be a daunting experience but we can help! And for all you experienced people, this guide is a handy reminder! The most important question to ask yourself is who do you want to live with? You’ll be in close quarters next year and you need to make sure you can put up with them. Have frank discussions about mess and dishes, shared chores and mutual respect. Don’t panic about splitting up into smaller groups and be honest with each other about your worries. Sharing a friendship is different to sharing a bathroom. Once you’ve decided on your roomies, you need to start thinking of practicalities.

 

On Campus First off, do you want to live on campus or not? If you do, then make sure to get your application filled in on the portal as soon as possible as on-campus accommodation tends to fill up fast. If you do want it, apply as soon as you receive the all student email telling you to apply. For more information check out their website here or call into the Accommodation Services office found at Willow Court.

 

Off Campus You can live wherever you wish but there are a lot of things to take into consideration such as transport, facilities, local shops and supermarkets. Some of the most popular off-campus locations are central Stirling, Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead. It’s sensible to look at map locations and check bus routes with First here.

 

Where to look? One of the best places to start looking for your property is the Students Union’s own website at www.stirlingdigs.co.uk Whether it's a flat for two or a big house to share, we have listings from reputable landlords who cannot list with us without proper landlord registration, all licenses and safe deposit schemes. We've got your back when it comes to renting. There are plenty of letting agencies in Stirling and lots of other websites to look at too, but make sure that they are all following the laws and required tasks that you can read more about below. Best practice is to speak to friends/older students who’ve rented with landlords/agencies before or pop in and see us in the Union if you’re in doubt!

 

*Remember, letting agencies in Scotland CANNOT charge agency fees – this is the law*
the viewing
The viewing is a great opportunity for you to check out the property and to ask some questions of the letting agent or landlord before you commit to anything. It’s easy to feel pressured into taking the first thing that comes up but it’s important to be objective and make sure everything is all right. DO NOT BE RUSHED! There is no obligation to decide then. You will often get told “that the property will be going soon” and “there is already someone interested”. This may be true in some cases, but is often a tactic to get you to decide on the spot so don’t be fooled.

 

Take someone with you; if possible take everyone who will be living in the flat! This provides three things:

 

  • Another opinion; which is helpful and more objective
  • Safety (safety in numbers and better to be safe than sorry)
  • Others are witness to any verbal agreements made at the time

 

When viewing the property TAKE PHOTOS. This helps you keep track of what you have looked at and it gives you a chance to compare the place to any other properties you may be looking at. It also keeps a record of any evidence of damage or problems that may come up in your verbal agreements. If possible and if there is time, always try and get a second viewing of a property before signing the lease.

 

We've put together a helpful little checklist for you to take to viewings with you. You can download it here.
the contract
Once you sign a contract (tenancy agreement) and move into the flat, it is legally binding. It’s important that before you move in, you get a written tenancy agreement, outlining the terms and conditions of your lease, the responsibilities of you as a tenant and those of your landlord. Having a document that outlines your rights and obligations helps secure your position as a tenant.

 

In general your contract should include the following:
  • The landlord’s name and address
  • The name(s) of the tenant(s)
  • The amount of rent to be paid
  • How long the lease is for

 

A tenancy can be joint or individual. Shelter encourages you to insist on an individual tenancy agreement. There is no reason for tenancies to be joint, except to suit the landlord. If more than one tenant signs the same contract they are joint tenants. This means that they will be jointly and severally liable for the rent and unpaid bills for the property. They are also responsible solely for their private space in the accommodation, but all tenants will be responsible for the communal areas.

 

When a written contact is provided it is important that you read the terms and conditions carefully, paying particular attention to the parts about responsibility for repairs and the inventory. This way you can avoid potential disputes in the future.

 

You should have 24 hours to consider the agreement before signing. Try and have it checked out (Shelter can help) and that it is legal, ensure that there are no hidden clauses that could affect you during your tenancy.

 

Many letting agents and some landlords require a guarantor form signed by e.g. parent(s) or other family members. This is a form that guarantees payment of the rent and any other bills or payments that you are liable for under the terms of the agreement. If the tenancy is joint, be careful that the guarantor form is worked carefully otherwise your parent(s) could find they are liable for money owed by the other tenants.

 

Your landlord is also legally required to provide a Tenant Information Pack. This contains information surrounding property condition, tenancy agreements and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. The pack has to be signed by the tenant and the landlord to confirm receipt and should be provided free of charge. If your landlord does not provide a pack at the start of a new tenancy then they could face a fine of up to £500. Please notify Stirling Council if you don’t receive one.

 

If you have a Resident Landlord (i.e. they live in with you) there are some different rules and regulations, contact Shelter for more info or you can always speak to the Union who will direct you to the right people.
guarantors
Many letting agents and some landlords require a guarantor form signed by e.g. parent(s) or other family members. This is a form that guarantees payment of the rent and any other bills or payments that you are liable for under the terms of the agreement. If the tenancy is joint, be careful that the guarantor form is worked carefully otherwise your parent(s) could find they are liable for money owed by the other tenants. Get more info on them here.
HMO & landlord registration
If the property you are moving into has more than 2 bedrooms, it MUST have a valid HMO license.

 

An HMO licence requires a property to meet a set of minimum standards and these standards are required by law and are enforced by the local authority. These minimum standards include some of the basic rights of a tenant when in a rented property.

 

  • The property must be wind tight and water tight
  • Heating that is capable of maintaining a minimum temperature of 18 degrees Centigrade when the temperature outside is minus 1 degree Centigrade
  • The property is free from damp and is well ventilated

 

The landlord must ensure that the above is enforced or they would be in breach of the law with regards to their HMO licence. Knowing what needs to be maintained can be useful when there is a leak or it gets cold in the winter due to a broken boiler! More info on HMOs here.

 

In Scotland, a Landlord must display their Landlord registration number clearly when advertising a property. If there is no registration number you may want to ask for it, or steer clear of that property as the Landlord may be in breach of the law and you might be in for a short stay at your new humble home! Stirling Council can check landlord registration numbers for you, call them on 0845 277 7000 if you aren’t sure it’s legit.
moving in
When moving into a flat there are some important basics:

 

Take photos of every room in detail: when you first arrive, even before you move anything in. You can use it as evidence if there are any issues when moving out about damage.

 

Take an inventory of everything in the flat: down to the last spoon. Your landlord should provide you with one of these but make sure you check it and if they don’t, make sure you create your own. Always keep a copy. Shelter has templates you can use.

 

Take meter readings for the gas and electricity: report these to the suppliers immediately. If you don’t do this you might get charged for the last tenant’s usage. You must also receive a copy of the gas safety certificate for the property from the landlord, this is a legal requirement.

 

Get all the paperwork: The landlord must give you a gas safety certificate, a copy of your contract, an inventory and a Tenant Information Pack. Contact the Council if your landlord/agent doesn’t provide the pack, it’s a Scottish legal requirement.

 

You might also want to consider:
  • If the flat hasn’t been cleaned, notify the landlord (using photos as evidence if necessary). If the mess is minor, it may be easier to clean it yourself but you might want to agree some compensation with the landlord (in writing) before you start.
  • Make sure all occupants are on the gas and electricity account so that everyone is responsible.
  • If you are going to have a TV in the flat, make sure you purchase a TV licence, catch up on your laptop counts too and they will find out!
  • Find out what day the bins go out, especially if you are city centre. Your landlord/letting agent will advise about special city centre bin bags from the Council.
  • It’s a good idea to ensure that you insure your belongings, don’t assume your parents insurance will cover you as it usually doesn’t. Endsleigh Insurance is a student friendly insurer that could give you a good deal. www.endsleigh.co.uk
tenancy deposit protection
When you pay a deposit, your landlord/agent must protect it using a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it. Make sure you ask which company they will use; there are currently three in Scotland.

 

 

This is a legal requirement, and failure to do so must be reported to Stirling Council. If your deposit is not protected by these third party companies, you may never see it again. When your tenancy comes to an end, hopefully you will part ways happily and your landlord will return the deposit via the scheme with no problems. However, this is not always the case, and these schemes will help with disputes whilst keeping your money safe.
money & bills
Financial considerations are super important when it comes to house hunting. Make sure you and your potential flatmates are agreed on how much you are willing to spend on rent and remember - it’s not just rent!

 

Things to consider:
  • How much is rent per month and what is included?
  • What other bills are there and what are you liable to pay for?
  • How much is the deposit?
  • How much will your travel to and from University be on top of this due to the location?

 

Gas, electricity, internet, insurance, TV licence… If the cost of bills is not included in the rent, the tenants are responsible for paying them. The day you move in, take the meter readings and pass them on to the suppliers. Bills can be monthly or quarterly, so find out and make sure you budget for it.

 

Council Tax Full time registered students are exempt from Council Tax. If a part time or non-student is living with students, then liability for the Council Tax lies with them, however they will be able to claim a discount of 25%. Contact the University admissions team who can help with proving you are a student to the Council.

 

Help, I’m Skint! If you are struggling, the Money Advice Centre within the University is able to help you with a wide range of issues you may be having with regards to your own finances. You can receive discretionary grants and loans to help tide you over until you get back on your feet or you can go along for helpful money saving advice. Visit the website here for more information: email: studentmoney@stir.ac.uk
your rights
It’s good to get an understanding of your rights just in case anything drastic happens. Shelter have an in-depth website full of information and legal advice on your rights as a tenant. Shelter Scotland
your responsibilities
Having your own place is fun and exciting but it also has some important responsibilities. Here are some key issues to think about when living in your own flat and how not to upset the neighbours.

 

Noise Noise is often the biggest problem people have with students. Parties and late night outings often turn into very loud events that can really annoy your neighbours. Try to keep your music and TV low at night time and inform your neighbours that you will be having a party. They will be more likely to complain to you about it should they know than phone the Council or Police. Remember noise must be kept to a minimum after 11pm.

 

Communal Areas Many blocks of flats will have communal areas even if it’s just the stairwell. You might also have access to a shared garden. You all as tenants have responsibility to keep these areas clean and tidy. A good idea is to chat to your neighbours about this when you meet them and just agree to keep it clean. Don’t ever leave your bin bags sitting in it, no one likes to come home to the smell of bin.

 

Cleaning It’s your responsibility to keep your flat clean and tidy. You’ll thank yourself when it comes to moving out and the ‘Big Clean’ isn’t anywhere near as hard. You’ll also have a lot more friends if your room doesn’t smell like old pizza and dirty socks.

 

Crime and Security Make sure you keep doors and windows closed and locked when you’re not in the room. Also be sure to properly shut any shared doors like the entrance to the stairwell. It is a good idea to use a UV pen to mark your stuff with your initials and postcode so if it is found by the police it can be returned to you. The Police Station is located at the address below and should be contacted should any minor property be stolen or lost so that you can get a crime reference number for insurance purposes. Central Scotland Police, Randolph Police Station, St. Ninians Road, Stirling, FK8 2HD 01786 456000

 

Recycling Make sure you figure out the bin and recycling system for your new home as it differs greatly depending on where you stay within the Stirling area. Visit www.stirling.gov.uk for more information. Recycling cuts down the amount of waste that goes in the normal bin, which is actually really helpful in keeping it from getting full all the time. Make sure you rinse out tins and bottles so they don’t go smelly or mouldy in the recycling box. There are plenty of recycling points scattered through the centre of Stirling so they’re never far away if you’ve got loads after a party.

 

Registering To Vote When you move into a new home you will have to register with the Council in order to vote in any upcoming election. It is also a good idea to register at your new address so that you can confirm your address when applying for things like mobile phone contracts and bank accounts. Register online here: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
moving out
  • Make sure you know the company your deposit is stored with so you can get in touch about its return.
  • Start thinking about what you don’t want to take with you to your new flat, you can donate old items to the Union’s Green & Blue space in the Atrium.
  • Start planning the ‘Big Clean’ with your flatmates, don’t leave it as a last minute scramble when you realise you don’t own a mop.
  • Re-check your inventory and make sure your landlord is arranging a check out inspection.
  • Clean the property thoroughly, including floors. Remember you’re all responsible for the communal areas.
  • Notify the gas/electric companies of your move out date.
  • Take photos of every room when you’re leaving after you’ve cleaned.
  • Take meter readings and ask for a final bill from the utility companies.
  • Return the keys on move out day, don’t forget…

 

Give it two to four weeks…

 

  • Have you heard about your deposit? Often you can log in to your protection scheme online and check the progress.
  • Don’t agree with any deductions? Try to negotiate in writing with your landlord using your tenancy agreement, the inventory and the photos you took.
  • Still not happy? Contact the protection scheme.
  • Speak to us at the Union if you need more help.
  • Remember, you have to raise a dispute within three months of the end of the tenancy.

stirling digs

Find your flat for next year with Your Student Union's property website! Whether it's a flat for two or a big house to share, we have listings from reputable landlords who cannot list with us without proper landlord registration, all licenses and safe deposit schemes. 

Click the banner to visit the Stirling Digs site or head to www.stirlingdigs.co.uk

 

housing fayre

Every year in second semester we run a Housing Fayre full of useful info and people who can help you with safety, utlities, money, issues and more. This year's fayre will take place on March 20th in the Atrium.

Contact Us

University of Stirling Students' Union
The Robbins Centre
The University of Stirling
FK9 4LA

email: theunion@stir.ac.uk
phone: 01786 467166

a registered Scottish Charity: SC023788

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