The struggle to find a second-year university house is real. You’ve only been in student accommodation for few months with people you hardly know, yet you’re forced to make the risky decision about who you want to live with for the next year within very little time at all. Deciding who you want to live with is only half of the problem, with choosing the perfect house being a confusing minefield on its own. So, we’re here to help you out. Here are our top tips to take the stress out of student house hunting.
Decide the details before you start looking
The most important thing about finding a second-year student house is finding one that’s right for you and not just picking the first house you see. Talk to the people you want to live with and decide details such as how much you want to pay for a week in rent, whether you want bills to be included in rent, how big you want bedrooms to be, how many bathrooms you want and whether you need access to a parking space etc.
You also need to consider how far away from university you are willing to live and how good public transport links are. In most cases, the further away you get from campus, the cheaper rent will be.
Having these details agreed before you start looking for properties will make the whole process much easier as you can tailor your search. Make sure to use websites like Rightmove and OnTheMarket as well as estate agents to make sure you’re picking from a full range of houses.
Keep your options open
The good thing about property comparison websites like Rightmove and OnTheMarket is that you can save multiple houses to have a look at later. With house hunting, it’s crucial not to put all your eggs in one basket so make sure to save lots of properties and book multiple viewings. There’s nothing worse than only having one house in the pipeline and it being taken by another group, leaving you back at step 1.
Also, try and get as many housemates to the viewings as possible. This is more difficult to arrange with high numbers of people, but it’s important that your housemates can view potential properties before you put down a deposit. Alternatively, take lots of pictures!
The only way you can find out everything you need to know about a property is by asking the estate agent questions at the viewing as the website may be hiding some details. Here’s a list of some of the most important questions you need to ask before signing a contract for a property:
- What is the rent per week and how often is it paid? Are there any hidden costs?
- Are the bills included in the rent? Do bills include wi-fi/tv licence?
- How much is the deposit? When is it due?
- How would you contact the estate agency during the tenancy if there are any issues? How quickly will these be resolved?
Remember you can always email estate agents if there are any questions you forget to ask!
Allocate rooms before September
It might also be a good idea to decide who has each room before you arrive in September, especially if not all rooms in the house are the same size. To make it fair, maybe assign rooms using random name/number generators or pick names out of a hat to save arguments.
If some rooms are significantly smaller than others, you could decide that you want to split the rent up more evenly, so that those with smaller rooms pay less rent. This is something you can speak to your estate agent about.
Keep on track of rent/bills
Once your contract comes through, make sure everyone makes a note of the days rent is due and puts it in their calendars. As will all estate agents, student estate agents will chase you and your guarantor for rent if you don’t pay it on time, so save yourself and your parents the stress and stay organised.
If organisation and remembering dates really isn’t your thing, you can always set up a direct debit for your rent to stay out of the estate agent’s bad books.