Student housing - rights and responsibilities in halls
If you live in accommodation that is provided by an educational institution such as a university, you are likely to be a common law tenant or occupier. These are terms used in housing law. This page summarises the key rights and responsibilities when you live in accommodation owned by an educational institution like halls of residence or a room in a flat owned by the institution.
Many halls of residence have resident wardens who ensure that rules are adhered to 24 hours a day.
Repairs and safety in your accommodation
You have the right to have repairs done to make sure that the accommodation you are living in is safe and fit for you to live in. The types of repairs that have to be done immediately by the institution are if there is rain or wind breaching the place where you live. It has to keep your accommodation wind and water tight.
The heating system that is provided also has to be working and able to keep the property free from damp and condensation.
If you have to pay for electricity and gas, over and above your rent, the property should be insulated and ventilated in such a way that your bills are not excessive. Your landlord is not allowed to add any costs on to your electricity and gas bills.
The educational institution, as your landlord, is responsible for doing most repairs except perhaps for very minor things, such as changing light bulbs.
Your landlord has certain responsibilities for gas and electrical safety, furnishings and asbestos. These responsibilities should be covered in the tenancy agreement that you sign at the beginning of the tenancy.
You need a TV Licence to use any television-receiving equipment to watch or record live TV programmes. These include programmes on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, cable and satellite television. Television-receiving equipment includes:
- TV sets
- set-top boxes
- DVD recorders
- video recorders
- computers and laptops
- mobile phones or other battery-operated devices
- games consoles.
If you don't have a licence but watch live TV on any of these devices it is a criminal offence and you can be fined.
If you have brought your own television to your room it is your responsibility to have it repaired.
There is a summary of the law as it applies to students on the website of the TV Licensing authority at www.tvlicensing.co.uk.
You don't need a TV licence if you only watch catch up series after the programmes have been broadcast, except BBCiPlayer, for which you need a licence from 1 September 2016.
If there is a television in a communal area it is likely that the educational institution will have a licence for this.
Rules about noise are likely to be covered in your tenancy agreement or a Code of Conduct which may be part of your tenancy agreement. You may be given a rule for a particular time of day after which you must not play music or a radio or television in your room unless you are wearing headphones.
Check your tenancy agreement for any clause about responsibilities that the educational institution has said it will observe regarding environmental nuisances and noise. For example, if there is a building development on the campus site there may be a rule that builders can only work between the hours of 8.00am and 6.00pm.
Passing your accommodation on to someone else
You generally don't have rights topass on your accommodation to someone else, or to sublet it, unless this is specifically allowed in your agreement. You will need to check the terms of your agreement to see if you have any of these rights.
Your tenancy agreement and any Code of Conduct is a contract between you and your landlord, the educational establishment. As well as giving you some rights, it also means that you have certain responsibilities.
Paying the rent
You must make sure that the rent is paid otherwise your landlord can take legal action to evict you. Your agreement will normally state how much the rent is, what it includes, to whom it should be paid, when it should be paid and how it can be increased.
You will be expected to look after the keys to the property you are in. If you lose them you are likely to have to pay for their replacement. Some accommodation has special keys which cannot be cut by a normal locksmith so getting a copy done in case you lose your keys may not be possible. Check what is said about keys in your tenancy agreement.
You should report any repairs to your landlord as soon as you notice them. Reporting repairs is often a condition of your agreement, so you may be obliged to report any problems even if you’re not too concerned about getting them fixed. The halls where you are staying are likely to have a certain procedure for you to report repairs, for example, to let the Hall Manager, Warden or the reception office for the building know.
You may be provided with a washing machine that you can use freely or there is likely to be a laundry facility that you have to pay for each time you use it.
The tenancy or licence agreement
Your agreement may set out other obligations which you must keep to. If the agreement does not cover an issue that you are concerned about you should ask the accommodation service about it.