Most university students will spend their first year in halls of residence, where they don’t get much choice in terms of accommodation or housemates. But in second year you not only get to pick where you live, but who you live with too.
If you are about to embark on a search for your first house of flat, then these are just a few things that you should consider.
Most university towns have a rental market that’s specifically designed for students so there should be plenty of options when it comes to picking a property. Do some research beforehand to find out how much rent you should be paying.
Don’t pick the first house you see. Take your time and view half a dozen and make sure that all your other housemates are there, that way you can decide what your priorities are in terms of size, location and facilities. My Property Guide has put together this great check list.
Whilst you shouldn’t rush, leaving it too late can mean that the most desirable and affordable properties are taken so it’s important to start looking early.
Take care when picking who you live with
Consider carefully who you think you can really tolerate for extended periods of time. Your friends might be great fun on a night out, but if they don’t know what a hoover looks like then they might not be the best pick.
Set up some basic house sharing rules for living together. Respect other people’s space, have a rota and agree how you will split the bills.
Check your deposit is in a deposit protection scheme
Deposits are there to cover non-payment of rent and any damage to the property. Landlords are now required by law to put your deposit in a government registered scheme. Within 30 days you should get a letter confirming the details of the scheme and how to release the money at the end of your tenancy.
Take pictures of the house when you move in for reference, in case you are sent a bill for damage you didn’t do and advise the landlord if any repairs need doing throughout the year.
Decide which bedrooms people get before you move in
Most houses were designed for families, so it could be that some rooms can only fit a single bed in them whilst others have an en-suite bathroom. Once you’ve found a house that you all agree on you’ll need to decide how you will divvy up the bedrooms.
It might be that you decide to split the rent so that someone with a large room pays slightly more than the person who gets the box room. Or you could pull names out of a hat and keep your fingers crossed that you get the option you want.
Consider the practicality of the house
Location is an important consideration. Have a practice run of your journey to university, making sure that the walk / bus journey isn’t too difficult. You don’t want to be so far from the library you can’t be bothered to go. Having shops nearby is also important, and living somewhere where it’s safe to walk home at night.
Ask the letting agency to get you a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate. If the house has a high rating it will cost you a lot less to heat during the winter, something important to consider if you live in a chilly part of the country.
One last thing to double check – how easy will it be to work in the house? It’s important to have somewhere quiet to study, ideally desk space in your room.
Make sure you can afford it
If you haven’t already discovered it (and live in England) the Student Calculator is a fantastic way to calculate your costs compared to the money you have coming in. This way you will know before you sign that you can afford to pay your rent. Stretching your budget isn’t worth it – it means you might miss out on some of the great opportunities university offers or even worse, not be able to buy the essentials.
Read the tenancy agreement carefully
This is a legally-binding document, so take some time to check each point carefully and make sure you understand everything. If there’s anything that you’re not sure about then take the letter to your student union and speak to the advisors there. Don’t sign until you are completely happy.
Finding a house share is a really exciting experience and if you follow these tips then finding a great place to live shouldn’t be too difficult.
Planning ahead isn’t just useful when it comes to deciding where to live, but also when considering your career. Internships are a great way to get experience whilst still studying at university, and Enterprise has a great internship and placement programme available at over 400 branches throughout the country.