Letting agents and landlords unfairly pressure students into signing tenancy agreements months before they are due to move into their homes, claims a new report.
The National Union of Students claims to have uncovered bad practice in the lettings industry that takes advantage of students who are often unaware of their rights as tenants.
Now, the NUS is calling on the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to open an investigation into ‘sham licences’ signed by tenants that landlords and letting agents use to try and sidestep their legal obligations.
“Students reported signing contracts for properties months in advance of when they intended to move in, as well as a number of cases where students were renting properties having not signed tenancy agreements,” says the NUS report Homes Fit For Study 2019.
The study reveals 57% of students looking for a home for the following academic year, which starts in September, in the prior November or December.
“A fifth signed for their properties seven or more months in advance of their move-in date, with some signs of panic. The most common reasons cited for beginning house hunting were thinking that they would be left with no house (40%) or that the best houses would be taken (35%),” said the report.
One in four had to pay a deposit to secure the property before they were handed a tenancy agreement – a practice most common with letting agents.
NUS vice-president of welfare Eva Crossan Jory said:
“We are already making progress – the Tenant Fees Act 2019 will outlaw the extortionate fees paid by renters to secure a home, and in January 2019 the Ministry of Housing launched new funding to crack down on the very worst landlords.”