Not even started first year yet? Then why would you need to think about housing for second year? Well, you do. The Student housing market is enormous, but competitive. And if you’re like me and want to stick with your flat of seven or more people after your first year as you couldn’t face splitting up, you need to get in there first.
Most students, particularly the eager ones, start looking for a student house after the October reading week (about half way through the month). And these are usually the lucky students that get to stay in their large friendship groups and still get a pretty decent house.
Know where to look
Looking for your student house is important, but by no means something to be stressed about before you start uni, or in the first important weeks of your first term. The most important thing to know is where you can go to for advice at your university. There’s often an advice centre, and most universities even have their own housing centre where you can ask questions about contracts, landlords and rent payments.
Whilst it may feel like you’re in competition with other large groups of students looking for 5+ bedroom houses, you need to ensure that you have a look at a couple of houses before reaching a conclusion regarding which to go for. There’s a lot of different houses on the market, all with different positive and negative aspects to them. It’s also advised to think about what is most important to the members of your group before opting to go with a house. Do you want to be near to campus? Town? The Gym? Do you want a little garden? Do many of you have cars that you want to park near the house and, if so, are there enough available parking spaces nearby? Do you want all want a large, double bed room or are some students willing to pay less for a smaller room?
Check you contract
The scariest part of securing your house is the contract. But it doesn’t have to be if you know what you’re signing. Yes, it’s a pretty long document that you’ll want to sign and get off your chest as quick as possible, but it’s something that you need to go through with a highlighter or notepad to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything that needs attention or may cost you money. Such clauses might include buying an appliance like a hoover or microwave by a certain date to avoid the landlord buying expensive ones at a higher cost. You’ll also need to look into things such as when your gas, electricity, water and internet contracts need to be arranged by, and when your council tax exemption application needs to be submitted by.
It’s a good idea to get a couple of parents to read them through as well, as they’ll have read through such documents when buying and renting houses before and will know if a clause seems unusual or not. Always be sure to keep a copy of these documents in the possession of the lead tenant (chosen by you as a group) as evidence in case it is needed.
Be prepared for charges
It’s a known fact that landlords and estate agents like to get hold of your money as soon as possible once you’ve shown interest in their property. You’ll usually be asked for a charge around £100 each to take the house off of the market, and then given a period of up to a month before you will need to pay the full deposit for the house which is often the first month’s rent so between £400-£500. For this, you might want to talk to your parents if you are not in an immediate financial position to pay it. It’s likely that they’ll be more than happy to lend some money to cover it to then be paid in smaller amounts. All you can do is ask!
The next thing that your landlord is likely to ask you to do is prepare pre-written cheques for your rent payment. These the estate agents will help you to write, followed by storing them in the office for you to be processed each month once you have moved into the property. To prepare yourself for this, it’s a good idea to pre-order your cheque book from your bank (free of charge) at the start of term as waiting for this to arrive may cause complications if you are only given a short period of time to submit the cheques. Don’t be the one that causes this hassle!
These are some of the key things to know when searching and securing your student house, nonetheless not the only things. Other aspects such as utility bills, deposit fees and furniture are things that can be looked at nearer the time. You can find all sorts of advice for these on campus or online.
Happy house hunting!
Cover Image copyright of flickr/cmurtaugh