Get CluedUp about student safety, HMO and renting as a student in Aberdeen

Many students decide to live in privately rented accommodation at some point whilst studying at university. It is important to be aware of the issues that come with private renting and take precautions to safeguard yourself and your deposit.

Start looking for accommodation early

Start your search ASAP. The earlier you start your search, the more likely you are to find accommodation. From March onwards, private landlords and estate agents advertise leases which commence from June onwards. If you are looking in a group, it is easier to arrange accommodation before people leave for the summer.

Be flexible

You should be prepared to start a lease in June even if you will not be returning to Aberdeen until September. Due to high demand, landlords and estate agents are able to fill properties as soon as the former tenant moves out. Being flexible with lease dates gives you an edge in this competitive market.

Smaller groups are more successful

Unlike other Scottish cities, Aberdeen does not have an abundance of large tenements. Most flats/houses will have one, two or three bedrooms. Larger properties featuring four or more bedrooms are rare so it may be better to split into smaller groups to make it easier to find a flat.

Check your lease agreement twice before signing

It may be exciting to sign your first private lease, however, make sure you check it thoroughly before signing. Look out for any unnecessary fees such as cleaning or inflated agency fees. Ensure your landlord/estate agency places your deposit in a safe deposit scheme. This tenancy checklist details everything you need to check before signing a lease.

What about a HMO License?

Make sure it has a House in Multiple Occupancy Licence (HMO). HMOs are designed to protect tenants by setting specific fire and security regulations on properties. This is essential if you are living with three or more people and you are not related. If a listing does not say it has an HMO, it most likely does not. By knowingly living in a property without an HMO, you, the tenant, can be fined substantially.

Scottish law demands any landlord with three or more unrelated tenants must hold a HMO. Failure to do so can lead to fines for both the landlord and tenant. Whilst it can be tempting to move additional tenants into a property to reduce costs, this would violate your tenancy agreement and can lead to eviction. If you are living in a property designed for two tenants, moving a third person in can also lead to fines for the lease holder as it would then require an HMO. If you suspect a landlord has a qualified property without an HMO licence, report them to Aberdeen City Council.

Sort out your council tax

As a student you have exemption from council tax, just remember to fill out a council tax exemption form once a year. You can request a form from InfoHub on the ground floor of the Hub. Visit Aberdeen City Council for more information.

Know your rights

If you feel like you’ve been unfairly treated when renting privately, contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Shelter for more information.