You’ve got your place at university or college, now you can think about where you’ll be living, but where do you start? If you’re not going to be living in the halls of residence, here are a few pointers to kick off your search.
Sign up for mailing lists
You’ll need to be on the ball. The best student lets will get snapped up as soon as the housing lists come out. Register with the university’s accommodation department and student letting agencies as soon as you’re accepted.
Research your stuff
Visit areas in which student property is located, get a feel for the areas and make a shortlist of your preferred locations.
Identify your essentials
What do you want from your accommodation? Make a list of your ‘must haves’ vs ‘nice to haves,’ thinking about:
A room in a shared house or flat with other students.
Mixed year groups or just your own year group.
A room in a family or professional person’s home.
Your own or a shared bathroom.
Accommodation in an old house or a new build.
Bike shelter or car parking space.
Closeness to where you will be studying or further away.
Proximity to shops and leisure activities.
A second pair of eyes
Try to take along someone who knows what to look for – a parent, partner or a friend. They might spot something you don’t.
If you’re looking at a shared house, try to meet the other existing or potential housemates. If possible, try to meet the landlord too.
Do the numbers add up?
If you’re able to see recent utility bills you can get a picture of your expected outgoings. It will help confirm what is or isn’t included in the rent and, if it’s a house-share, how the bills are split.
Is it fit for purpose?
Don’t be afraid to give the place a thorough inspection, go beyond the initial appearance of the décor, looking at:
The security of the property – check window and door locks are robust and working. Is fencing in good order, is there exterior lighting and suitable street lighting nearby?
Safety aspects - smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, up to date electrical and gas fittings and appliances, PAT tested ideally.
Health and comfort - signs of damp and mould, working radiators or heaters, sufficient ventilation including extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
Headspace and floorspace?
Is there enough physical room for your belongings? Don’t forget outdoor storage for bikes, skateboards, etc. Look at the communal spaces, can you share? Will you have enough privacy when you need to clear your mind and get down to studying.
Furnished or unfurnished?
Most will come with communal areas furnished and should provide a bed. But it’s always best to check. Think about desks, chairs, storage.
Be up front
Establish what the deposit amount is, ask if the agent or landlord is part of a recognised Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and if you need a reference or a guarantor ahead of agreeing to a tenancy.
Is the landlord or agent regulated?
Ensure that you are going to be renting from a reputable landlord or agency and that they are part of an independent regulatory body.