Once you’ve settled into your property and made it your own, you’ll get into the routine of going in and out without worrying about any looming inspections, repairs or renovation work.
If, however, something happens in relation to your property and you’re unsure of what your rights are, where can you turn for help? Also, what can and can’t you do in situations involving your student house that are beyond your control? In some scenarios, it may seem like there’s nothing you can do, but that’s not the case at all.
In this handy guide to your rights and student accommodation in Gillingham, we look at what you can do when it comes to rent, repairs, termination of tenancy, finances and other areas relating to your time staying in student accommodation. We also discuss what rights different students have, whether you’re from Kent or have travelled thousands of miles to study here.
As Gillingham is home to three universities, there are plenty of services out there for the hundreds of students, but who are they and what do they do? We go through the people you can talk to if there’s a problem.
The Citizens Advice Bureau have branches in Maidstone, Canterbury and Ashford. Some of the things that they can advise you on are issues concerning living in private rented accommodation with items of concern like tenancy agreements, repairs and council tax. They can give you all the relevant information towards services and intervene on your behalf if it becomes necessary.
The three universities in Gillingham - Kent, Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church - all have their own student unions (Kent and Greenwich share - GK Unions), who are able to advise you on student housing issues. GK Union has a section on their website that advises on renting in both halls and private accommodation. They can talk to you about any issues you have with your property.
CCCU student union offer a similar service too. Wherever your SU is based, it’s ideal to speak to them in person, as they’ll know from personal experience and talking to students in similar situations to your own.
If you’re in a position where you feel you have to pay council tax, it’s worth getting in touch with the HMRC to know where you stand. A phone call to them, explaining your situation, should help to clear things up. They also have a section on their website dedicated to paying tax on any income you earn from part-time work alongside your studies here.
If any damage sustained in the property is down to you not taking responsibility for its upkeep, such as not changing a light bulb, then you may have to pay a small fee to cover the costs of repairing it.
If you do fall into arrears, we will give you an additional charge, but if there are any extenuating circumstances, please let us know as soon as possible. If in doubt, please refer to your tenancy agreement.
There are a few things you can do in relation to decorating the property for example, moving furniture around or hanging pictures, but before you do, please ask the permission of Student House Gillingham before going ahead. Specify what you want to do to the house and we’ll let you know straight away whether it's possble or not.
Whether it’s about maintenance of the property, unforeseen charges or about customer service, it’s possible to complain to Student House. Our complaints procedure involves you writing an email, explaining what issues you have with our service. Then, we will get back to you as soon as possible and try to come to a resolution.
Although the rights of international students living in private rented student accommodation are broadly the same as those of students who are UK citizens, there are a few subtle differences in laws that you need to be aware of. The main one is regarding a UK Guarantor to Guarantee them during the tenancy. As our tenancy agreements are set within UK law we require any guarantor to be a UK resident (and also in full-time employment and over the age of 25). Most students that look for accommodation from abroad won't have anyone in the UK but don't worry there are ways around this. Just get in touch and we'll be more than happy to discuss these further.
If you’re a student who’s from a country that isn’t either in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will need extra paperwork to prove that you’re studying in the UK, have sufficient funds to pay rental costs and have a valid student visa. Should you have all of that paperwork to hand when applying for accommodation with us, you’ll have the same rights as every other student in Gillingham where student housing is concerned.
According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), a ‘right to rent’ check is performed by landlords. This is just to make sure that, as an international student, you can live in a property here. This check involves:
The UKCISA website has all the information you need here.
As far as guarantors are concerned, as it’s harder to get one who’s based in the UK, international students are usually exempt from naming one when applying for renting a student property in Gillingham.
Like UK students, you can complain if something at your accommodation has gone wrong that wasn’t your fault - simply file a complaint by emailing us.
To get a greater idea of your rights, it’s worth reading your tenancy agreement. This will help in case of emergencies such as maintenance issues or failing to pay rent on time.
Wherever you’re from and whatever you’re studying in Gillingham, it pays to know what your rights are for renting a student property so you can be prepared if something happens during your tenancy.