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In General

Landlords want to be paid regularly, to have the place treated reasonably and to have no complaints from neighbours or other tenants. Since it can be difficult to evict tenants once installed, potential tenants not only have to find a vacancy but also instil confidence in the landlord. Good references can be a big help here. To ensure there's no cheating on rent payments, agencies letting to students normally require a guarantor (standardly, your parents) and other folk will be required to pay an advance deposit of up to one and a half months' rent.

Beware of Scammers

Deposits

Landlords are now required by law to place a tenant's deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it. This is designed to give tenants greater security and protection for getting their deposit back if they leave the place clean, tidy and undamaged. When you leave the property, you should receive the deposit back within 10 days of you and your landlord agreeing how much you'll get. If there is a dispute the deposit is held safe in the scheme until it is sorted out.

There is more info on these schemes, what to do if your landlord doesn't obey the law, and what happens in the case of disputes on the government website.

Who counts as an Agency on Daily Info's property pages?

See our definitions of Agency and Private landlords here.

Houses and Flats To Let

Average 3 to 5-bedroomed houses equipped for rental to students or professionals sharing cost around £950-£2000 per calendar month (pcm); 1 bedroom flats normally cost upwards of £600. (Houses specifically for families may be cheaper.) Add to this a deposit of another 1½ - 2 months' rent, chargeable in advance. before handing over any deposit, check that it will be held legally with a tenancy deposit protection scheme; landlords can no longer request a deposit from tenants if they do not opt into this. All agencies will be signed up to this but private landlords may not be. Read how the schemes work here: www.direct.gov.uk/tenancydeposit. It is probably also worth knowing which kind of the two kinds of protection scheme your deposit will be held under.

Council tax is another cost which may or may not be included in your monthly rental price. A low rent can become much higher if you're in a high band. Banding goes from A (low) to H (high): check which applies to your home (and whether you're eligible for any discounts) on the council website, here.

The student house-hunting season starts earlier every year - some letting agents release their lists of student properties in December for the following October. See Daily Information, the Oxford Times, www.rightmove.co.uk (where many Oxford agents without websites of their own list their properties), Zoopla and such local agents as

Read the contract thoroughly and always get a copy on the spot of everything you sign. Take great care to check the inventory and note minor blemishes (even taking photos) on taking over and when terminating the tenancy. Remember that failure to question anything you do not agree with before it occurs may cost you substantial sums of money. Also make sure before you leave that the agent agrees in writing that the place has been left clean - otherwise, you may find another deduction from your deposit for cleaning. You may find it worth scouring our Services Offered page for a professional deep cleaner to do this dirty work for you, as that will guarantee that it is to checkout standard (ie. far beyond what seems clean to a normal human). Chances are that the £100+ charge for this will be less than what an agency would remove from your deposit.

Houses and Flats for Sale

Daily Info has a basic, free page for buying and selling property in Oxford and beyond. Otherwise, there are agencies too numerous to list (though a quick Google search will yield the relevant results). Hot tips: 1) If you're buying, it's always worth signing up to individual agencies' emailing lists rather than relying on web searches, as the best properties are often snapped up before they appear online to the general public. 2) Don't hope to pick up a dishevelled bargain and do it up; all property of this nature in Oxford will be pounced on by professional developers at rates far beyond first-time buyers, almost before they reach the market.

Short Term Accommodation

Most letting agencies do not wish to let for periods shorter than 6 months, as this involves a virtually unenforceable contract, under the terms of which you would be very difficult to evict should they feel the need. You can however usually find individuals offering short lets on our Short Lets and House Swaps page (where you can also list holiday properties, in the UK or abroad). Another option is to rent a serviced apartment (these will be more expensive). Find some on our Hotels, Guesthouses & B&Bs page.

The following agency offers economical short or long term B&B rooms within private Oxford households, plus some lets. All rooms are vetted by the agency.

  • Abodes of Oxford
    6 Blackman Close, Kennington, Oxford OX1 5NU.
    Tel 01865 435229 / 07590 831963 / 07789 788392; Fax 01865 730025
    www.abodesofoxford.com

Bedsits / 'Studio' Flats

With use of kitchen and bathroom, these can cost around £100 a week (substantially more in Jericho) plus bills. Students often look in March or April - or even earlier - for the following October. You'll probably find what you want on our Rooms to Let page; it's also worth looking at cards in newsagents' windows.

Free Advice Service

Homelessness charity Shelter offers free (council-funded), independent advice, advocacy and homelessness prevention services to clients in both social and private accommodation in Oxford. Services are available from 09:30 - 17:00 on Tuesdays at at the Council Offices at 2/3 Bank Court, Templars Square (Cowley shopping centre), OX4 3XH and on Thursdays at 109 St Aldates, OX1 1DS.

Discrimination Law: what am I allowed to say in my ad?

In the UK it is illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of race, gender, marital status, age, nationality, belief, ethnicity or disability (known as protected characteristics). If you are an agent, or letting out a whole house, you may not discriminate who you let to on these grounds. However there are some occasions where there is a very good reason, eg if the house is part of a retirement complex and must only be let to a retired person, or if there is no HMO licence and your house must be let to a family not to a group of sharers who are not related to each other.

If you are an individual letting a room in your own house the law is slightly different. You may specify in certain cases who your room would suit, or who you would prefer, as long as you can give a good reason. We require you to state this good reason in your Description Text.

Confused? Here are some examples:

You may say what you have already. Eg:
Muslim household.
Gay-friendly house.
Polish-speaking household.

You may discriminate on grounds of non-protected characteristics. Eg:
Non-smokers only.
Vegetarian preferred.
You must like dogs.

If you're letting out a room in your house, you may say who you would prefer AS LONG AS you give a good reason in the description. Eg:
Female preferred. [because the house is small and we are an all-female group sharing a bathroom accessible through one of the bedrooms]
or [because this is a strict muslim household and the residents would not be able to remove headscarves at home if the tenant was male]
Would suit Jewish person. [because the household is Jewish and observes Sabbath law strictly]
Professional 20-30 preferred. [because all current tenants are this age]
Male preferred. [so we have a gender balance in the house, as the tenant who is leaving was male]
Would suit Chinese-speaker. [because everyone currently living in the house speaks chinese socially]
Not suitable for wheelchair users. [because of steep stairs and narrow bathroom door]

You may NOT discriminate on grounds of race, ethnicity or nationality. Eg:
No Polish people.
Only Asian.
Chinese preferred. [though you may specify on grounds of language eg Chinese-speaker preferred]

You may NOT dictate what you must have. Eg:
Female only.
No Christians.
Male Muslim only.

If you are still confused, please get in touch (01865 241133 / info@dailyinfo.co.uk) and we will do our best to help.

More excellent user-friendly information on this at www.equalityhumanrights.com. And while you're at it, do check out the terms and conditions of advertising on Daily Info!