Choosing Your Student Accommodation
Choosing your student accommodation can feel daunting.
If it’s your first student home, it’s likely to be the first time you have lived away from home, perhaps in a city you don’t know and may involve living with people you’ve never met before. You may also be new to paying bills, dealing with tenancy agreements and maintaining a property.
All of this can make choosing the right home feel a bit overwhelming!
Even if it’s not your first student home, it might be the first time you are renting privately rather than living in halls. And for those of you who are seasoned renters, you can still feel there is one too many things to think about.
It doesn’t have to be difficult. Familiarising yourself with what to look for when the list of options comes your way is a great place to start.
What To Look For
So what are the things you should be looking for when picking your student accommodation? Having the following checklist to hand can give you peace of mind that you’ve covered all bases and help you hone in on the property that’s right for you.
It can pay to be flexible on location, especially in a small city such as Norwich where nothing is too far away. This gives you more scope to prioritise other factors on your housing wishlist.
Choose one or two location factors that are important to you and your housemates. Do you want to live near to where you study or near to your social life? Will you be walking, cycling, driving or using public transport to get out and about? Do you want to be near to a supermarket?
One location factor that everyone should include on their checklist is whether the area makes you feel safe, particularly on your own at night.
- Is there central heating and is it throughout the property?
- Is the house double glazed? (It will keep heating costs down if there is)
- Does the property appear well maintained? Look out for signs of damp or mould, check furniture and decor condition, check appliances and lights work.
- Do the bathrooms have good shower pressure, running hot water and enough facilities for the number of tenants.
- Are bedrooms of an adequate size with sufficient storage? Make sure you would be happy to live in every bedroom. Someone in your group will end up with the smallest room and it could be you!
- Is there an energy performance certificate (epc)? The higher the band, the more affordable it will be to keep warm.
- How many communal rooms are there?
- Is there adequate cooking and storage facilities?
- Are there enough facilities for the number of people sharing?
- Is there enough furniture and is it fire resistant (check labels)?
The Tenancy Agreement
This might be the first time you have had to sign what can be a huge legal document of this kind and it can look like gobbledegook, set out to trap you. In fact, it is there to protect everyone including you.
Make sure you read your tenancy agreement. Once you have, read it again. Many University and College housing support teams offer free services to look over your tenancy agreement before you sign it.
Some checklist points for the tenancy agreement:
- Is it a single or joint tenancy agreement?
- How long is the agreement for?
- Do tenants require guarantors? If so, can you limit their liability to just your rent?
- What happens if you want to leave before the end of the fixed tenant?
- Have you seen the Gas Safety Certificate? (there must be one provided within the past 12 months)
- Does the property have working fire and carbon monoxide detection equipment?
- Has the landlord carried out a fire risk assessment?
- Have gas appliances been checked in the last year?
- When was the wiring last checked?
- Are there good locks on the doors and windows?
- Are window panes and frames free from cracks?
- Are there sufficient external lights and any alarms?
- How much is the rent and are bills included?
- How much is the damage deposit?
- Is the agent or landlord part of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme which protects you and the money you have paid?
- Do you know all of the charges that might be applied during the tenancy?
- Have you got the landlord and/or letting agent contact details in case of emergencies?
Repairs and Cleanliness
- Will any repairs be done before you move in? if so, have you got this in writing?
- Will the property be decorated before you move in?
- Is the property clean?
- If there is a garden, are you responsible for maintenance? (if so, check that tools are provided)
Speak to the Current Tenants
If the current tenants are about it’s useful to find out what it’s been like to live there, what the landlord is like and the pros and cons of the property. Also, find out what average bills have been.
- Is the landlord or letting agent professional and responsive to repairs and maintenance?
- Is the property easy and cost effective to heat?
- How much do they pay for bills?
- Do they have any security concerns?
- Are there any outstanding issues with the property?
There we have it, a neat guide to help you choose your student accommodation.
We hope this guide takes the guesswork out of your house hunting. For more on this subject, read our guide to moving from student halls to a student house on the Student Pocket Guide
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