Q. I am a student from overseas who has just arrived in the UK ready to start university in September. I desperately need to find a flat to rent to get settled before I start my studies. However, having visited countless estate agents looking for apartments to rent I have been turned away as I am not working! What is the solution for someone in my position that doesn’t have a job and won’t have for the next three years but needs to find a place to live?
A. Being a student and trying to find an apartment to rent can prove to have its difficulties. Estate Agents use professional referencing companies to carry out the necessary checks on prospective tenants that offer agents reassurance that they are choosing the right tenants for their landlords. These companies carry out extensive tenant referencing checks that provide the Landlord with a comprehensive tenant referencing report which details all their findings. Some tenants are under the impression that as long as you don’t have any bad credit history such as bad debt like CCJ’s then that should be sufficient to deem them acceptable. Unfortunately, references are not just to highlight bad debt but also to ascertain proof of earnings to cover the rent. If the tenant is a student like yourself and has no income to be able to cover the monthly rental payments then there are really only two ways that a professional reference company will accept you as a tenant. The first option is to pay the rent in advance for the whole of the term of the contract, so either six or twelve months rent up front, of course the Landlord would still require the usual six week dilapidation deposit too. The second option is that you find yourself a UK based guarantor. The Guarantor will also have to be referenced to make sure that they are in a position to be able to afford to cover the rental payments should the tenant default. Usually in your case it would likely be your parents but only if they are UK based, if they too are residing overseas they would not be able to act as a guarantor. So, yes I agree with you it’s not easy to rent a place if you are a student at all, but I’m sure you can appreciate from both a Landlord’s and an Agents perspective they have to be comfortable that the rent payments can be met. If you are not able to pay the rent up front or get yourself a UK based guarantor then it might be worth looking at rooms to rent. Often home owners want to rent out a spare room at the fraction of the cost of renting a whole apartment and would likely be more lenient with their move in requirements for perspective tenants than an Agent acting on behalf of a Landlord would.