In The Community

Choosing where you live whilst at University, and who you live with, are important decisions!

The following useful information will come in handy when you start looking for private rented accommodation and will help you deal with issues that may arise both in University and private rented accommodation alike.

House Hunting

Many students start thinking about where to live in their second year not long after arriving at University. Finding both people to live with and a suitable house can be a daunting prospect -however the Student Mentor Scheme is here to help! Through a range of events and with our comprehensive House Hunting Guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need. A great place to start is Guild Lettings, our very own lettings service!

To view our House Hunting Guide, please click here

  • Our House Hunting Information Day provides advice and guidance on finding an accredited landlord, getting into a safe contract, protecting your deposits, utility bills, and where you can live in the local area. A range of local services and Guild and University departments will also be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.
  • Our Mixing Events are an opportunity to find likeminded students to live with next year.
  • The Guild has its very own lettings agent – Guild Lettings – and their housing fair on the 27th November showcases properties with accredited landlords where there are no signing or administration fees! At the back of the House Hunting Guide, you’ll find a useful table listing all of the events taking place this house hunting season.

Guild Advice can also help with various aspects of housing including checking tenancy agreements, repairs, recovering deposits and security.

Deposits

Most private rented landlords require students to pay a deposit as a condition of letting accommodation. The deposit acts as security against non-payment of rent or damage to the property. You can read more about deposits here.

By law, your landlord or letting agent must protect your deposit by paying it into one of three government authorised tenancy deposit schemes. These schemes protect your deposit, make it easier to resolve any disputes you may have with your landlord and help ensure that you get your deposit back when you’re entitled to it!

When you pay your deposit, your landlord or agent should provide you with details of your deposit protection within 30 days. This information should include:

  • A certificate proving that your money has been paid into a tenancy deposit scheme. This should include scheme details and information about your landlord / agent.
  • Information on how to apply for release of your deposit
  • Information about what to do about a deposit dispute

If you don’t receive this information, contact your landlord /agent in writing to chase this up! If you still don’t receive your deposit protection scheme information, then get in touch with Guild Advice.

Deposits Advice Direct

when to pay, and how to get them back

Council Tax

If you’re a full time student, you’ll be exempt from paying council tax. Take a look at our Advice Direct for more information about the steps you need to take to be granted a council tax exemption.

Council Tax Advice Direct

Council tax exemption

Council tax is a local tax on residential property. A property is exempt from council tax if it is wholly occupied by full-time university or college students. If your property is not exempt, certain people, including full-time students, are disregarded. This may mean that whoever is liable to pay the council tax can get a discount.

Council Tax Exemption Advice Direct

Research students and Council Tax

All local authorities have set procedures on how to claim exemption which vary especially for research students in write up stage. Read more in our Advice Direct. 

Research Students & Council Tax Advice Direct

Thesis awaited stage and liability

Repairs

When you rent a private house, there are two types of let – managed and let only.

If your house is managed, then your letting agency is responsible for managing & maintaining your house on your landlord’s behalf. You’ll need to contact them to report any issues, problems or concerns. Make sure you all have their contact details and know what to do if you have a problem outside of office hours!

If your property is let-only, then your landlord is your main contact for any problems. You should be able to find their details on your tenancy agreement or contact. Again, make sure you know what to do if you can’t get hold of them, they’re away, or you need them during unsocial hours!

Repairs

what to do if something gets broken or is in need of repair

If you rent your home from a private landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems. However, as tenant, you also have some responsibilities around keeping your home in a good state of repair.

Rights & Responsibilities

Your legal rights and obligations

How do I report an issue?

Firstly, make sure everything’s in writing! As soon as you have a problem, request a repair or maintenance work in writing as soon as possible.

If a problem is urgent – such as loss of water or power or something that puts your safety at risk – it’s reasonable to ask for a repair to be carried out within a day or two. If it’s something that you can live with, or that poses no health & safety risk, two weeks would be a reasonable time scale.

Keep a log of everything: when you contacted your landlord, their response and the agreed time and date for work to be done. Remember, your landlord should give you at least 24hours notice in writing if they’ll be accessing your house!

If the repair work makes your property uninhabitable, it’s reasonable to ask your landlord for alternative accommodation or compensation for that period.

How do I make a complaint?

If you’ve contacted your landlord twice with no response (and reminded them of their legal and contractual obligations to maintain your property!), it’s worth contacting Guild Advice or your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau / Law Centre for advice and support. They’ll be able to negotiate on your behalf and can inform you of your options. Make sure to collect evidence of what’s wrong with your house, including photos of the problem, medical reports if your health is affected and receipts for any costs you’ve incurred!

The Community Wardens work with Guild Advice to support you if you’re living in a poorly maintained property. Get in touch if you’d like them to come and visit your house!

Problem with your utilities (bills)?

If you’re having problem with your electricity, water or gas supply, take a look at our handy guide for help! 

Vermin & Pests

Rats, mice, cockroaches and bed bugs are very occasional and very unwelcome visitors. If you think you’ve got a pest problem, check out this advice from Birmingham City Council.

Ending Your Tenancy

Students aren’t always aware that they enter into a legal contract when they sign a tenancy or licence agreement. An agreement must be ended properly when you want to move out. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau have guidance on ending your contract here.

Ending Your Tenancy Advice Direct

how can you bring your tenancy to an end

Eviction

How your landlord can get possession of the accommodation will depend on the type of tenancy you have. You can read more about eviction and your right to stay in accommodation on the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website.

Eviction Advice Direct

What are your rights

The Standard Assured Shorthold Tenancy

Click here to find the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) approved by the University of Birmingham and the University of Birmingham Guild of Students. This tenancy agreement is for use by private landlords and agencies, and can be printed off as required at no cost.

The Guild of Students does not review or endorse any other tenancy agreements – please contact us about any landlord or agent who suggests that their contract has been endorsed by the Guild of Students or our individual departments.

Please note, while this is the endorsed contract for use with University of Birmingham Students, both the University Accommodation Services and Guild Advice recommend that students still get their contract checked before signing so that they can understand their rights and responsibilities as good tenants and check any additional terms that are included.

Is my house a HMO?

If you live in a shared house of five or more unrelated individuals, living over three floors and sharing facilities, then this house is classed as a ‘property more at risk’. The landlord has extra legal responsibilities to fulfil, including applying for a licence from the City Council to ensure the safety of occupants.

If this applies to you, and you haven’t seen a copy of the licence already, please contact your landlord. Alternatively we can check this for you – please contact us.
To read more about HMOs, click here

Recycling

Birmingham City Council currently offers three doorstep recycling schemes:

  • Blue box/bag - Paper and card
  • Green box - plastics, glass, metals
  • Clear sack - garden waste

Dawlish, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Hubert, Dartmouth and Exeter Roads currently only have Blue box collection - all other roads have both blue and green box collection! Your recycling is collected every two weeks, with the blue and green boxes collected one week and the clear garden waste sack collected the other week. Please bear in mind that your recycling and refuse are not always collected on the same day of the week. Make sure you check which day your recycling is – you can do it here! Wheelie bin roads no longer have green box collections for recycling – you’ll need to take your plastics, glass and metal to the special street collection bins. You can find your nearest bin here:

Your recycling is collected every two weeks, with the blue and green boxes collected one week and the clear garden waste sack collected the other week. Please bear in mind that your recycling and refuse are not always collected on the same day of the week. Make sure you check which day your recycling is – you can do it here!

Wheelie bin roads no longer have green box collections for recycling – you’ll need to take your plastics, glass and metal to the special street collection bins. You can find your nearest bin here:

bin collections in selly oak and surrounding areas

You can also drop off your recycling on Grange Road, by the main gate to University!

Junkbusters

Birmingham City Council currently offers three doorstep recycling schemes:

  • Blue box/bag - Paper and card
  • Green box - plastics, glass, metals
  • Clear sack - garden waste

Dawlish, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Hubert, Dartmouth and Exeter Roads currently only have Blue box collection - all other roads have both blue and green box collection! Your recycling is collected every two weeks, with the blue and green boxes collected one week and the clear garden waste sack collected the other week. Please bear in mind that your recycling and refuse are not always collected on the same day of the week. Make sure you check which day your recycling is – you can do it here! Wheelie bin roads no longer have green box collections for recycling – you’ll need to take your plastics, glass and metal to the special street collection bins. You can find your nearest bin here:

Your recycling is collected every two weeks, with the blue and green boxes collected one week and the clear garden waste sack collected the other week. Please bear in mind that your recycling and refuse are not always collected on the same day of the week. Make sure you check which day your recycling is – you can do it here!

Wheelie bin roads no longer have green box collections for recycling – you’ll need to take your plastics, glass and metal to the special street collection bins. You can find your nearest bin here:

Junkbusters is a joint project between your Guild and the University. Every year, we hit the streets of Selly, collecting your junk and raising money for charity. Last year, we collected in aid of the British Heart foundations, and to date we’ve raised a massive £100,000+ on their behalf!

How does it work?

  • Our Community Wardens will deliver your Junkbusters collection bag, stickered up with all the collection date information you need.
  • Fill up your bag with your unwanted items that you want to donate.
  • Put out your bag in your garden BEFORE MIDDAY on your next collection date.
  • We’ll head out on ECO-1, our environmentally friendly milk float, to pick up all your donations. Everyone wins!

Junkbusters Officer and staff out collecting in the local community

What we collect?

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • CDs & DVDs
  • Books
  • Kitchen accessories & crockery
  • Bric-a-Brac
  • Stationery
  • Small electrical items in full working condition e.g. kettles, lamps, hairdryers, audio equipment, toasters, TVs etc. (NOT RICE COOKERS)

We have now completed our collections for 2016 but we will be back early 2017!

To order more bags or for further information please contact Community Wardens 

You can also drop off your recycling on Grange Road, by the main gate to University!

Being a good neighbour

When you live out in Selly Oak, the way you behave reflects not just on you but on your University and on students as a whole. Here are some of our tips for being a good neighbour:

  • Pop round and introduce yourself! It’ll only take a few minutes, but it’ll help you establish good terms with your neighbours. It’s also handy in case you ever need a bit of help – like borrowing something or asking them to keep an eye on your house whilst you’re away.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour around your house – and theirs. If in doubt, give the police a call!
  • Put your rubbish out on the right day. No-one wants to live next to piles of smelly, pest-attracting rubbish, so do you best to keep your street tidy.
  • Check back with your neighbours regularly, and let them know if you’re planning a party or event that’s likely to disturb them. Agree a time to turn the music down, particularly on week night. If you’ve spent the time building up a decent relationship with them, they’re much more likely to be accommodating.
  • There are lots of students in Selly, but there are also families, professionals and older people too. Make sure you’re respectful of your neighbours, their cultures & their backgrounds. In turn, they’ll hopefully be respectful of you

Noise – Reporting Nuisance Noise

It’s easy to forget how thin shared walls can be - or how far noise can travel down a street when walking home at night.

If you’re having a house party or are walking home late at night, make sure you try to keep noise to a reasonable level. You may have to shout to be heard whilst you are in a night club, but this can be turned down once you get outside or if you are at home; or you can always save it for the local karaoke!

Local police can respond to incidents such as noisy parties or noisy neighbours and in extreme cases this can lead to equipment being seized. Make sure you are not the perpetrator!

Anti-social Behaviour

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is social harm directed against individuals, communities or the environment. It is any activity that impacts on other people in a negative way. Selfish and unacceptable activities can blight the quality of community life and therefore it is important that you have an idea of how these issues can be addressed.

Examples of ASB include:

  • Nuisance neighbours (such as playing music far too loudly)
  • Intimidating groups taking over public spaces
  • Vandalism, graffiti and fly-posting
  • People dealing and buying drugs on the street
  • People dumping rubbish and abandoning cars
  • Begging and anti-social drinking
  • The misuse of fireworks
  • The misuse of mini-motors

Anti-social behaviour is treated very seriously by both West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council – it can lead to eviction or criminal prosecutions.

Experiencing it?

Make sure to record what happens, where it happens and who’s involved. This will help local neighbourhood officers, in partnership with the Council, to take action and address any incidents that occur.

Reporting it

If you’re experiencing anti-social behaviour, you’ll need to contact your local police station – they’ll be able to take concrete action to help solve your problem. You can get in touch with West Midlands Police via:

By Phone

Call 0345 1135000 or 101 and ask to be put through to your local police station. To find the details of your local police station you can enter your postcode into the 'My Neighbourhood' section of the West Midlands Police website.

In Person

visit the front office of your local police station, or pop along to your local neighbourhood tasking meeting. These meetings enable members of the community to meet with local officers to discuss issues of concern and have a real influence on local policing priorities. Details of these meetings can be found on the website or by telephoning the above number.

By Email / Post

you can report incidents by completing an ASB self-reporting form.

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STUDENT MENTORS

To ensure that you get what you need from us, when you need it, we have created a set of promises which we will always aim to deliver.

Meet your officer team

Every year, you elect fellow students to your Officer Team, who represent you and lead your union. Each Officer has their own roles and remit which you can view below. You have a chance to make sure your elected Officers are doing what they said they will, by attending Officer Question Time held each term.

 Ellie Keiller - Guild President 2016-17
Natalie Cox - Activities & Development Officer 2016-17
Chris Wilkinson - Education Officer 2016-17
Izzie Nicholds - Housing & Community Officer 2016-17
Rose Bennett - Postgraduate Officer 2016-17
Brandon Hattiloney - Representation & Resources Officer 2016-17
Georgie Freeman - Sports Officer 2016-17
Ross Strong - Welfare Officer 2016-17

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