The first year at University has eased you into adult life; almost. Your time tables are thin with lectures and full with socials, and living in halls has meant that you live stress free thanks to all included bills, on site security, handy maintenance, and housing regulations put in place by the University.
Your first question is therefore likely to be;
“can’t I just stay in halls forever?”.
Unfortunately, the answer to that is no. You can’t.
So, instead make sure that you are prepared for the process of finding a suitable property and dealing with letting agencies.
Asking The Right Questions
Asking the right questions, in regards to the house itself as well as the tenancy agreement, can often be overlooked. This is particularly the case when it comes to students who get caught up in the excitement of viewing a house for the first time. It is equally likely that you don’t actually know what you should be asking.
When viewing a property start with the basics and ensure that you take your time looking thoroughly in every room. We’d even suggest taking a camera with you, so that you can refer to the photos later and compare to other properties.
Questions To Ask Regarding The Property
- How long has the property been on the market? – It is likely that it hasn’t been on the market long at all; student housing gets snapped up fairly quickly. However, if it has been available for a while it could indicate that there is something wrong with the property. Additionally the longer that it has been advertised, the more likely you are able to negotiate deals.
- Is the house properly insulated? – Heating and other energy bills are usually the biggest cost as a student (bar your rent). Making sure that the house you pick is adequately insulated can be the difference in saving hundreds of £’s every year. Look out for double glazed windows, secure doors, and ensure there are no draft spots. Additionally check that there are no tiles missing from the roof which could cause issues later down the line.
- How secure is the property? – Ensure that the property you are viewing is properly secure. Most insurance companies insist on deadlocks on the external doors and window locks on the ground floors.
- Are there enough facilities for the intended number of tenants? – This includes showers and toilets as well as the fridge and freezer space.
- What furnishings/appliances are included? – The flat screen TV and double bed in every room might just be the deciding factor for you and your potential housemates. However, many pick up their keys to find that the doubles have been replaced by singles and there is nothing but a TV bracket left on the wall. Make sure you understand exactly what is included in your rental property.
- Are fire alarm systems in place? – From March 2015 working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties are a legal requirement for landlords. Ensure that these are visible and in working order, and request that they be seen to before signing any papers. Equally you should request to see a gas safety certificate.
If possible we would also advise that you take a minute to talk to existing or previous students. Particularly those living in the accommodation you are interested in. No one else has a better idea of what the house I like than the current students. Ask them about any key issues raised such as security, damp, and how prompt the landlord was when responding to requests for repairs.
Don’t Forget To Ask The Agency…
What are the agency fees? – Ask upfront for an overview of impending fees and ensure that you won’t be greeted with any unwelcome surprises. And by all means question any charges you may be given if they seem particularly high.
What is the deposit? – Find out early so that you can begin saving. You’ll also avoid, as the point above suggests, being hit with any unexpected payments.
Are there any bills included?
What is the length of the contract? – In high student-populated areas, the contract is most likely to be 12 months. This means that half of your rent must be covered during summer and winter holidays. If this is something you can’t afford, or aren’t willing to pay, why not look outside of student areas? it might be easier to negotiate a shorter contract if you so wish.
Don’t Forget About Insurance
Did you know that the average student’s possessions are worth more almost £4,000? With smartphones, laptops, and play stations common belongings, it’s no surprise.
It is important then to remember that landlord’s insurance policies do not cover any personal property that belongs to you, the tenants. It is therefore essential that you cover your belongings with personal contents insurance.
Some students are under the belief that they’re protected by their parents home insurance, and this may be the case. Check the section for the cover away-from-home policy as it could cover your contents, usually with a limit of up to £5,000.
However we strongly advise that you look fully into this and make sure all of your belongings are protected as not all insurers will offer this. If this is not the case you will have to arrange suitable cover through a regular home insurer.
More Help and Information
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great place to start. When viewing houses, and signing papers with agencies, continue to ask plenty of questions. It is the only way you can be sure exactly what the process entails.
If you have begun your search already (most tenancies start 1st July), or thinking about doing so, we have a host of excellent student properties available. If you require additional information and advice regarding Bristol Properties our team of experts are on hand to help, simply give us a call on 0117 930 8750.