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House hunting tips for students

Published Monday, 04 May, 2015 by Lily McConnell

It’s that time of the year again when freshers undergo the transition from living in halls or shared uni accommodation to finding a house for the next academic year and are probably panicking. You may not know where to go, where to start or even what you should be looking for. A few years ago, I was in the same position, so therefore I have come up with ways for you (as a fresher) to remember when hunting for that year long accommodation.

Do not rush
Your estate agent will try and rush you into making a quick decision, after all, they it’s in their interest for you to sign on the dotted line. BUT you will be living there for a full year, so take your time when making a decision.

Don’t leave it too late
Whilst it’s important not to rush your decision into moving into a shared accommodation house, it’s also wise not to leave the decision to move into a house until the last minute. Start looking early, and if you find a house you like, don’t hesitate, take it before somebody else does – making sure you have answers to all your questions first. There are a lot of students at university to accommodate every year and it’s always known to be on a first come first serve basis.

Location
If you had a choice of having a house next to your university or having it close to the shops/clubs, most students would choose clubs. However, it’s always best to find the right location for the best of both worlds. Depending on where your university is based, finding the right spot to suit everyone is a must. Having your university close by will save you that extra time in bed for those 9am lectures and make the walk more feasible.

Find out about bills
It’s always worth asking what bills could be included in the rent (if any) and how much on average the bills would be on top of the rent you pay. Some students get caught out at this and think rent includes bills, but this is not always the case!

Admin fees
It’s always a good idea to ask estate agents about admin fees as well as the bills you will have to pay, it is likely in this scenario that you will be faced with a one off payment. This should not stop you from going for the house you like the look of though, as another group of students could be happy to pay it, leaving you without accommodation.

Taking notes
Take notes when viewing the house and create a check list. My university provided accommodation talks for first time students living off campus. Many universities also provide you with a checklist to make sure you aren’t being conned. This can also help you choose one property over another if you are viewing a lot of properties at once.

Get everything in writing
Make sure you document everything and anything, even if it does not seem important. If you move in to a property and no inventory has been given, make sure you type one up yourself and send a list to the landlord of all the things that you could potentially see wrong with the house. Protecting yourselves against end of lease damages should always be a priority.

Speak to the current tenants
Sometimes the current tenants may not be there when you view the property but occasionally they are, and if they are it’s always best to talk to the tenant about any problems they may have had during their year and take a note of it.

Choose your housemates carefully
You will be living with your housemates for nearly a year, therefore it’s best to choose wisely in case any mishaps could happen. Hopefully you’ll all get along and have a fun year living together but make sure you know who you are living with before you move in, especially if you have made a last minute decision to live with a group of people you don’t know.

Remember to do research
As a final tip to the readers of this blog, it is crucial that you do your research into the letting agents of the property you think you could be going for and also about the landlord themselves. The internet is a starting point for research and there are many sites that allow students to rate their landlords, which could potentially save you from a lot of hassle if other students have had trouble in the past.

Good luck and happy hunting Ffeshers!

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