You must secure your chosen student accommodation with a financial commitment – either a Holding Deposit or a Retainer.
This isn’t the same as the deposit you’ll pay in your Tenancy Agreement against any damage you cause to the property. The Holding Deposit is a fee to reserve the house for you whilst your references (and perhaps credit record) are checked. This deposit will not be refunded if you then decide not to take the property, or if your references are unacceptable. It will be refunded if the landlord decides (for some other reason) not to let the property to you before the Tenancy Agreement is signed.
It’s important to get the contract signed promptly, to avoid panics at the start of term if the landlord reneges on your reservation. It can be tricky, with shared student accommodation, where some of the signatories are away on vacation. Remember, contracts can be signed and then posted on, if necessary.
Retainers are usually associated only with houses for students. A retainer is a sum of money – usually half a calendar month’s rent – paid to the landlord to ‘save’ the property for you through the summer holidays. Again, retainers are non-refundable. The retainer period forms part of your letting agreement, though you will probably not be occupying the house. The arrangement works well for both parties. You pay less up-front, and can store your stuff in the house, whilst the landlord has access to the property for maintenance and refurbishment. The arrangement has flexibility, but we at Househustler.co.uk always recommend fair and reasonable negotiations.