Completed your first year in university – congratulations! But that year of comfortable student living will soon be ending for most of you – no more university managed halls. So, you’re getting tossed out the door of the hall and you haven’t the faintest idea how you’re going to tackle the daunting task of getting a place to stay.
Well, first things first – pick who you want to live with wisely… very wisely. These are people you’re going to have to live with for a whole year. You’re going to have to put up with their habits, their dirty laundry and (worst of all) their morning moods. So before committing to a house hunt, make sure you have the right group of people, you know, people you actually like.
Renting property can be one of the biggest missions of the year – so you must be prepared! House hunting can be a stealth and attentive ordeal, especially when trying to spear-head good value for money. But with so many dangers, it isn’t hard to fall right in to a pit fall, without the proper guidance.
Lucky for you, we’ve formulated this guide to help you through the boobytrapped labyrinth that is private rented student accommodation.
Top tips for Student Renting
“If you’re having PEST problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a PEST ain’t one… HIT ME” is what you should be singing from the rooftops after securing your private accommodation.
But unfortunately, most of the time this is not the case. Forms of student rentals are usually infested with common household pests. From flies to rats, there is a whole array of household pests that can spoil the party – but landlords tend to emit this detail when prospective buyers go for viewings.
So, our advice to you is to be vigilant; scope the place out, and look for the signs. Signs may include droppings, traps or trails – so be sure to keep this in mind when viewing.
Now we’re not suggesting you take the magnifying glass (as such), but just remember to keep them eyes peeled, and if there’s something that raises concern, don’t be coy – confront the landlord.
SWOT Up on your Area
Now, knowing the area is key when hunting for that killer property. The likelihood is that you’ve gotten to know the area relatively well within your first year so you’ll know the top student areas around the university. But don’t be fooled in to purchasing a lower standard property in a hot spot area, when there are better alternatives in less vibrant neighbourhoods.
Before viewing the property, always remember to research the area – see what amenities are within the area. Are there good travel links? Is there a shop nearby? Is the campus reasonably close? Ultimately, these factors will contribute toward your overall decision.
Another key element to research are crime rates. Before purchasing any property, you must first assess the areas reputation in regards to crime. This is very important as your safety is paramount, and residing in a safe area can significantly decrease your risk of becoming a victim.
To check the crime rate of your prospective area, we advise using CheckMyStreet, a free search tool that provides you with a breakdown of different crimes that occur within that area - https://www.checkmystreet.co.uk/indepth/crimerate
Check for Damp
Damp can be a common problem in the world of student rentals. As student properties, can sometimes be fairly old, damp can thrive throughout the structure, leaving the place smelling grim. But damp doesn’t just have a bad smell - it can also cause health implications and leave clothes ruined. Yes, I did just say ruined clothes (try to stop yourself from fainting).
Some landlords will attempt to conceal damp from house viewers; obstructing the damp with furniture is common practice so be sure to check everywhere when viewing the property.
Electrical appliances are another factor to bear in mind when viewing a property. As a normal human being, you’re likely to be using electrical appliances every day of your life – toaster for toast, kettle for a cuppa – you get the jist.
But sometimes, electrical appliances included in a property may not be what they seem. For starters, the appliances may be damaged or not function as they should. Or the appliances included aren’t suitable for several students for example if the fridge/freezer doesn’t have enough room. These are all issues you should raise with the landlord before purchasing.
Check the Tap
Properties with bad water pressure can be real nightmare, especially in the morning when you’re trying to wash off them stamps from the clubs you were at the night before. As you stand in the shower, you look to the sky and ask WHY… why me?
Anyway, back to reality – bad water pressure doesn’t help anyone. But how can you tell if a property has bad water pressure? We advise you to turn on the tap (any tap, it doesn’t matter) and see if the water pours out at a reasonable pace. If you get a sort of dribble after unscrewing the tap valve, you know the property has bad water pressure.
Assess the furniture
Most landlords provide an array of furniture included with the property, however furniture quality does vary. Assessing the furniture in the property should be another part of your visit. The last thing you want is back pain of your broken bed or a wobbly desk whilst you’re trying to get that assignment finished.
During your visit, peel back the mattress and have a look at the bed slats – see if they’re all in place and undamaged; or take a seat on one of the chairs to see if they’re stable enough.
Checking furniture within the property will save you a lot of time, money, and hassle!
Beware of the Contracts
Legally binding contracts can become a massive issue, especially when you haven’t read in to them. The type of contract can also be an issue. Joint tenancy agreements link everybody living at the property as one, but if somebody decides to leave before the contract is up, the landlord can ask everybody to leave. This type of contract is less desirable.
We advise you to take out an individual contract – this provides everybody living at the property with a personal agreement between themselves and the landlord. This also protects each tenant individually in the case of someone missing rent, as the other tenants aren’t liable.
For more information on tenancy contracts, click here.
Take your Time
Most people tend to rush when viewing a property as they feel compelled to scan the house as quickly as possible, to snatch it off the market. Or maybe the landlord’s presence intimidates you to make the decision. But, viewing a property is no short task. Repeat visits are common and don’t feel obliged to take the property there and then – you can always arrange another tour.
Of course, this comes with the risk of losing out on the property, but you must be 100% it is somewhere you can see yourself living.
We advise you to take as much time as possible and consider everything – from the switches to the dishes, no aspect can be overlooked.