House Hunting … HELP?!
It’s the time of year when students have to make that tricky choice of where they will live next year – and who with. BUT DON’T RUSH!!! We’ve compiled a few top tips before you sign anything.
Also check out the list of letting agencies the uni have - here
1) Who’s who
Chances are, the people you choose to live with will become your best friends… or mortal enemies. Choose wisely, and be honest. Everyone – including you – has bad habits and different tastes so to minimise tensions later, choose people who will be able to accept yours, if you can accept theirs. Think early bird or night owl? Tidy or messy? Same course? Cultural differences? Nights in or out?
2) Where’s Where
Want to live close to campus so you can slide out of bed into your early tutorial? Or commute in from somewhere with a different vibe? Balance up the costs and how you’ll get there. Think about timings of classes and your on-campus time. Travelling off-peak will save money, as will rail cards (made cheaper with an NUS Card!). Always view the house and ask current students for some home truths about the place and landlord. Check for mould… no one likes mould…
Contracts are legally binding documents – both for you and your landlord. They can protect you and ensure your landlord behaves in a certain way. However, it will also oblige you to do things too, so don’t stray from the path – you could be liable to pay fines, or be evicted. Check if yours is a joint contract or a contract per room? If it’s joint then beware - you (or your guarantor) could be liable for the housemate’s rent if they do a runner. Look out for any hidden costs like admin fees. If you don’t understand something, ask the landlord/agent to explain it. Check the inventory list and agree in what state the house is in when you sign.
For someone to sign as your guarantor, they agree to be responsible, after you, of any costs, damages or anything legal. It’s a pretty big deal. They need to know and trust you – and you need to respect them. Sometimes, people outside of the UK, unemployed or receiving benefits are not accepted as guarantors. In this case some places ask for a much larger deposit, or many months rent upfront – that’s a lot of cash. Otherwise there are organisations who can act as a guarantor – for a fee: Check Housing Hand. If this is an issue for you please get in touch or contact the Specialist Adviser at the gateway desk.
Rent, deposit, water, internet, gas, electricity, TV licence, insurance. It all adds up so don’t sign for it if you know you can’t afford it. You have to do some sums - the Student Calculator can help. Even though it might be cool if the house has a ... dishwasher (?) but can you really afford it?! Check
the contract about when your rent has to be paid; termly when your loan comes in? Monthly so you’ll have to budget for it? Some agencies or landlords charge an admin fee – so be clear of any extra costs before you sign.
More info from NUS
#CutTheCosts - Go Green
Being stingy with the heating is not the only way to lower the energy bills – check if the house has a good boiler, insulation, draft-free doors, double-glazed windows and it could save you a lot, (including arguments about when to turn the heating on). Ask to see a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate to find out how energy efficient the property is. The higher rated the property is, the cheaper it’ll be to keep warm.
More info from NUS