Accommodation

You may choose to rent or buy a property when you first come to work at Oxford Brookes. Below is some information which you may find useful.

Renting

There are various ways of finding accommodation to rent. Some are listed below -

Local newspapers

Most local newspapers and free papers have a section dedicated to housing, where you can find details of properties or rooms available to rent. Both the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times have fairly substantial sections on this subject. Also most local Estate Agents have free property guides that you can pick up.

Internet

There are many websites where you can find properties for rent in the Oxford area. A few of these websites are:

Letting agents

There are many letting agents in Oxford that will provide details of properties available to rent. They advertise properties on behalf of landlords with the aim of finding tenants to rent them to.

One thing to note with the Oxford rental market is that deposits of up to two months rent are quite normal for rented accommodation as are charges for background credit checks, drafting the tenancy and fees for registering with an agency.

Private renting and tenancies

A tenancy agreement is a legal agreement in writing that sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. It will contain details such as the length of the agreement, the rent payable, and what is and isn't allowed in the property, such as pets.

The three most common types of tenancy agreement are:

  • Assured short hold tenancy - This is the most common type of tenancy agreement. It gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time. It also offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his property at the end of the tenancy.
  • Assured tenancy - Assured tenants have stronger rights than most other private tenants. These types of tenancies are usually granted by Housing Associations or Housing Trusts. They mean that as long as you don't break the terms of the Tenancy Agreement, you can continue to live in the property for an agreed period.
  • Regulated/protected tenancy - Regulated tenants have stronger rights against eviction than most other private tenants.

For more information on tenancy agreements you can go to a local advice centre. For example the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, 95 St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1DA tel: 0870 2200608.

Inventory

If your landlord or agent has not provided one, you should write a list of furniture and any disrepair. Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished does not affect your rights. Try to get your landlord to sign the inventory to prevent later disagreements.

Deposit

Your deposit will be returned to you at the end of your contract, provided you have left the property clean and tidy. Agents are especially fastidious in this respect and will not hesitate to hold back an element of your deposit if a property is anything less than immaculate when you leave. Taking the time and expense of engaging professional cleaners as well as possible dry cleaning soft furnishings may turn out to save you money in the long term.

Buying a home

Buying a home is probably the biggest financial decision you will ever make so it is worth taking time to consider whether it is the right choice for you. You will become responsible for all the costs of maintaining the property, including major structural repairs, routine repairs and improvements. Please see Which? Mortgage Advisers website for impartial advice on mortgages.

What costs are involved?

You will need to take the following costs into consideration when buying a home:

  • mortgage repayments
  • mortgage protection insurance for if you fall ill or lose your job
  • life assurance to enable your family to pay off the mortgage if you die
  • building and contents insurance against the risk of theft, fire, flood or other accidents
  • council tax and water charges
  • gas, electricity, telephone, etc
  • ground rent and service charges may also apply

As part of the process of buying a house or flat you may also need to pay for:

  • a solicitor or licensed conveyancer
  • an independent survey
  • the mortgage to be arranged
  • the Land Registry fee
  • Stamp Duty

Choosing and working with an estate agent

You may want to choose an estate agent that is registered with the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) as this will mean they have to abide by a code of practice. All estate agents are bound by the Estate Agents Act, whether or not they are registered with a governing body.

If you have a complaint about the conduct of an estate agent you can contact the Ombudsman for Estate Agents. The OEA provides an independent service for dealing with disputes between estate agents who are members of the Ombudsman Scheme, and consumers who are actual or potential buyers or sellers of residential property in the UK.

Making an offer

Make sure any offer you make is 'subject to contract’; this means you can pull out of the deal if there are any problems.

Once your offer is accepted, ask for the property to be taken straight off the market for the duration of the sale to avoid “Gazumping”. The seller may be reluctant to do this if you are part of a “chain”. The best way to ensure a chain progresses smoothly is through good communication. Stay in regular contact with your conveyancer and estate agent to make sure everything possible is being done to speed things along.

Gazumping occurs when a property is sold at a higher price to another buyer after your offer has been accepted.