Getting the keys to your new student house is an exciting experience, but there are some things you should check before you get too comfortable to ensure that you are fully protected, safe and secure in your new home.
You can download and print our Moving in Checklist.
Moving in Checklist
Before you move in, if you have not already done so:
- Check the landlord is registered with Rent Smart Wales.
All properties are required to be registered with Rent Smart Wales, by law, in order to protect tenants. You can check if your landlord/house is registered here. More information on the legal obligation to be registered and licensed is available on our Landlord/Agency Registration and Licensing page.
- Check that you have been provided with a copy of your contract.
Landlords/agents usually provide one copy of a tenancy agreement to the lead tenant. You should make sure you have this along with copies of any other documentation. Don’t lose it - if the lead tenant can’t be trusted to keep it safe, give it to a tenant that will.
- Check that the landlord/agency has protected your deposit(s).
All deposits are required to be protected by a Deposit Protection Scheme by law. You can find more information about this on our Deposit Protection page.
- Check that the property has an HMO License if it needs one.
Most shared student houses in Cardiff are deemed as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). More information on the legal obligation to have a license is available on our HMO Licensing page.
- Make sure you have a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate.
The landlord/agency are legally obliged to have an up to date gas safety certificate for the property and to give you a copy.
- Collect your keys on time and organise this in advance.
Landlords and agencies vary in their key collection protocol, so call ahead and check. Make sure you know when the keys are available to collect - some require a ‘booking’ system and some allow you to just turn up whenever you are available. Some also require one person to collect all keys and distribute them to tenants. Make sure you know that you can collect your keys before you travel, and that the landlord/agency will be open or available when you arrive.
When you, or the first person gets the keys and moves in, you/they will need to
- Check the inventory and take your time with it.
Most landlords/agents will supply an inventory – a paper list of everything in the house, noting the condition of it. This includes everything in the house from bed frames and mattresses to light switches and markings on walls or units. If they do not, you should create your own and hand it in.
Usually, one or more tenants will need to sign and return the inventory. Many contracts say that, if you do not do this within a certain timeframe, you will be taken to have accepted the inventory as accuarate. This means that you are accepting the house in its current state and will be liable for any omissions or damages not pictured or identified on the inventory. Do not be pushed to sign it before you have seen the condition of the house - some agencies ask if you’re happy to sign it in the office when you collect your keys, but it is a much better idea to take it with you to your house, then return it to them once you have checked it thoroughly. Do not be rushed in completing/signing the inventory but do check and amend it as soon as you move in and return it quickly. The longer you take, the more the landlord can argue that you caused any damage, dirt etc. noted. This is an important document that will be used as evidence in future deposit disputes.
Make sure you note the TRUE condition of the house and report ALL imperfections. If any part of the house is dirty or unclean – make sure this is noted clearly on the inventory. Nothing is too small to be noted on the inventory.
- Take photos of everything.
Before you move any possessions in, take pictures of EVERYTHING. Focus on the flaws – anything which is broken, or imperfect, like marks on the walls, scuffs on the sofa, damage to furniture, or dirty seals around the kitchen or bathroom. Try and get the photos as high resolution as possible. When you’re done, email the photographs to the landlord/agent as proof of how the house looked when you arrived. You could do this immediately when checking the inventory - it will help to spot things the landlord/agency might have missed.
Lots of landlords/agents will try to take money from your deposit at the end of the tenancy by arguing that you have mistreated the house. You’re not obligated to return the property in any better condition than you originally found it in, but lots of students struggle to prove what the house looked like when they moved in.
Every year Cardiff University students lose thousands of pounds from their deposits through ‘cleaning costs’ and other deductions – costs they say are unfair, but have difficulty fighting.
If you have not paid a deposit, the landlord can still pursue you for any damage, dirt or other breach of the tenancy agreement when you move out. This usually extends to your guarantors too, depending on the wording of the guarantor form. If you do not pay, they can take you to court, so you still need to make sure you check the inventory and protect yourself.
The more evidence you have of the condition of your house when you moved in, the better.
- Record the electricity and gas meter readings as soon as you arrive.
Find the electricity meter and take a photograph of the number on there as soon as you can. If you have gas, do the same. Record this on the inventory and provide it to the utility companies when you sort out your utilities payments. You shouldn’t be paying for the costs the tenants before you incurred. If you’ve paid half summer rent and are moving into the property in September it is likely however that you will have to pay what was consumed over the summer to keep the house ticking over – but this shouldn’t be too much.
You will need to contact the utility companies straight away and let them know you have moved in. You can set up a payment arrangement with them, which usually involves a set amount paid monthly by direct debit from your bank account. The longer you leave this, the bigger the amount you will have to pay.
- Check that everything’s working.
Make a list of all appliances that aren’t working and report them to the landlord/agent straight away. Check fridges, washing machines, microwaves, dishwashers and the boiler. Email the details of any broken appliances so you have a record of reporting them. Take photos of them as soon as you notice they’re broken. The same goes for throughout the tenancy - it’s sometimes beneficial to send a photograph in an email to show the landlord or agent exactly what has broken so they can do something about it.
Tenants are usually in charge of lightbulbs – have some spare ones when moving in. Energy-saving ones are more expensive but save you money and polar bears in the long run.
- Check that fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working.
This is a vital health and safety point which could save your life and so MUST be done - if you skip any of these steps, don’t let it be this one! Press the button on the fire and carbon monoxide alarms to check they work. If the fire alarm is not working contact the landlord/agent straight away, as this is a serious breach of fire safety regulation. If you do not have a carbon monoxide alarm you should consider getting one sooner rather than later. They are generally relatively inexpensive (between £10 - 20) - most hardware stores or online retailers will supply them.
- Check locks on all doors and windows.
Test all windows and doors to make sure they lock from the inside and can’t be easily broken from the outside. Contact the police community liaison officer for Cathays if you have any questions as to whether the property is secure. Report any issues to the agent/landlord straight away.
Go to http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/ and buy a TV licence. You need it even to watch recorded programmes or streaming services such as BBC iPlayer online. Failing to do this is breaking the law and there is a risk that an enforcement agent may visit your home to check that you are not watching any form of television. It’s not worth the risk - split the cost between your housemates.
If you are living in a shared house, you will need to come to an agreement on how your are going to pay your bills. Utility companies will often limit the number of people who can be named on an account so you may need to agree to split who is named on what, e.g. two tenants on gas, two on electricty, one on internet etc.
Once you have set up accounts with the providers, you will also need to agree on how those accounts will be paid. You can ask your bank about setting up a joint house account and use that to pay direct debits from. You will all then need to make sure that you pay enough money in to that account to cover the outgoings.
Detailed advice on this available on our Bills and Council Tax webpage.
- Register all housemates to vote.
Visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and follow through the registration process. It is the law to do so and your credit rating will improve. You may be approached to do jury service and you will be able to exercise your right to vote. A representative from the Electoral Register may visit your house with a paper form to check that they’ve got you on record - check for ID if someone does request your personal information.
- Get a copy of your Council Tax exemption certificate.
You can find a copy of your council tax exemption certificate on SIMS, via the ‘Council Tax Exemption Form’ button. It is your responsibility to contact Cardiff Council when you move in and send them the exemption certificates for everyone living in the property. The council will not assume you are a student and if you can’t prove to them you are eligible for council tax exemption, you will be charged for this.
Detailed advice on this available on our Bills and Council Tax webpage.
Telephone: 02920 872087, pressing option 1 for Council Tax
- Change your registered address with the University and bank.
You can do this via SIMS by clicking ‘Update Address, Phone Number or Home Email’ to inform the University. You can find instructions to change your address with your bank via their website, by phone or in branch.
You should also redirect all mail from your previous address to ensure you don’t miss any important documents.
Make sure you redirect the post from your previous address to your new address, and forward any left over post to the landlord. For post addressed to previous tenants, return these to the sender. You can do this by crossing out the address on the envelope and writing ‘No Longer Lives Here’ or ‘Not Known At Address’ on the envelope, then just pop it in a postbox - you don’t need a stamp.
- Find out which bins go out and when.
Go to https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/resident/Rubbish-and-recycling to check collection dates for your area, locations of your nearest recycling centres and details on how to order new liners. You can also register for email reminders to let you know which bins to put out every week.
Some houses have black wheelie bins, but most on Cathays streets will require council specific refuse bags (red and white striped) for their general waste, rather than a bin. You can get these from the council but they will be rationed. If you use up all of your bags before you are entitled to more, you will need to pay the Council to remove your rubbish or drive it yourself to one of the Council's landfill sites.
It is very important to follow the rules because, if you don't, Cardiff Council can and will fine you.
The Cardiff Gov app can arrange a number of different services, all from your digital device. You can:
- Set yourselves a weekly reminder, to let you know what recycling and waste to put out;
- Find out what you can recycle in Cardiff;
- Find your nearest stockist of recycling/food waste bags, or order a home delivery;
- Report fly-tipping and litter
Just search for “Cardiff Gov” in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
- If required, apply for a parking permit.
Visit Cardiff Council's Parking Permit page. You will be able to apply for a permit for your vehicle and look at what options are available for multiple permits and details for blue badge holders. Parking without a permit in a residential parking area will result in a fine. Visitor permits are available for friends and family when visiting.
- Register for a GP surgery and locate your nearest hospital.
Here are links for registering with a GP, dentist, and details on the organ donation scheme in Wales. If you registered with a GP in your first year this may not be essential, as long as you are still within their catchment area. Contact them to discuss this. Here are a list of hospitals for lots of medical requirements, from major A&E at the University Hospital of Wales to psychiatric wards and minor injuries units. Knowing where the nearest medical or dental assistance is to you can help you stay calm in a stressful situation, but always call 999 in a medical emergency. (Remember: prescriptions are free in Wales)
- Put all important house documents in a folder.
Put your Gas Safety certificate, EPC certificate, tenancy agreement and all letters about the house in one neat folder. You are entitled to a copy of the Gas Safety and Energy Performance Rating certificates from the landlord/agent. You can keep a hard copy folder and a digitised folder of these documents - just take a picture and upload them to a computer or online storage folder, or use a digital document creator to do this.
- Get to know your housemates and neighbours.
Sort out your own unpacking, move in, but don’t be afraid to help your housemates move in too, and be friendly to any friends or family with them when they arrive. You may think you already know these people, but you never truly know someone until you’ve lived with them! Learning more about your housemates early on will help the rest of the year run as smoothly as possible. You may also wish to get to know your neighbours - they may be students, professionals or families, so keep this in mind when meeting them.
You can download and print our Moving in Checklist here.
Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410