house hunting

House Hunting

Housemates

Most students choose to move into a house or large flat with a number of fellow students. Living with people of your age can be fun and a great experience. It also reduces living costs, since they are shared among all tenants. However, characters are different and you might not always get along well with your housemates.

Sharing the same roof can often be surprising as it reveals people’s irritating little habits: some people have a strong aversion to cleaning up the kitchen after cooking; others might not know how to operate a vacuum cleaner. Then there are those who occupy the bathroom every morning for far too long, especially when you’re in a hurry. Turning your living room in to a club three times a week, discussing who is next to buy shared supplies and the constant presence of your housemates partners are further points of potential "disagreement".

But that’s only one side of the story. Sharing a house with friends can also be brilliant, offering you the opportunity to experience and share your own property; mostly, people spend a great time together. One just has to take care and consider some basic advice. Most importantly: don’t rush into sharing a house with people you don't know really well. If possible, take some time and think whether moving in with certain people is really a viable option for you.

Signing a contract too early can leave you tied to sharing with people you don't really want to, and if you all fall out before you are due to move in, you may not be able to get out of your contract. Choose the right people to live with and chances are good that you all will enjoy sharing the same home. Spend time, before signing anything, discussing what you all want out of your year as housemates.

Property Viewing

Before you pick a property, you should inspect your potential new home as closely as possible. Don't just sign up for a room because the landlord is offering a free case of beer or because it is next door to your mates!

Use our Accommodation Checklist to ensure that you find a student room that will be safe and meet all your needs. Keep in mind that rent for a whole year is a massive drain on your funding and you will be spending loads of time there. Choose wisely for a hassle free year. Even if you follow this list, the best reference for the property and landlord will come from the current tenants.

Try to speak to them without the landlord there, get a true picture of what it is like to live in the property, and whether the landlord has been prompt in responding to requests for repairs etc.

Checklist

Area

Is the house in a convenient location for pubs, shops and the campus?
Are there good public transport links? Can you get home safely?

Licensing

1. Does the property have a current HMO Licence for the number of people seeking to share property?
2. Ask the landlord or letting agent for a copy of the licence and if in any doubt seek advice from your local authority.

Gas & Electricity

Is there a copy of a CORGI safety certificate for the gas appliance?
Is the heating in the house adequate (imagine whether it will be adequate in the middle of winter)?
Do the electric/gas fires work?
If you leave an electric fire on for 10 minutes, does the plug get very hot indicating dangerous wiring?
What sort of heating is it (electric heaters are more expensive)?
Does the cooker work?
Has the wiring been checked within the last 5 years?

Plumbing

Do all the sinks drain?
Have you tried all the taps?
Does the toilet flush or leak?
Are there any signs of pests (mouse droppings, slug trails, fleas) in the house?

Security

Does the property have a working burglar alarm?
Is the house secure?
Are all the external doors solid?
Are all external doors and door locks adequate?
Are the ground floor bedroom curtains lined or thick enough?
Are there smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?

Furniture

Has the house got enough furniture for the occupants?
Is there sufficient space in the kitchen to store and prepare food stuff?
Is any of the furniture the property of existing tenants?
Is the fridge/freezer big enough?
Is all the furniture in good condition?
Does the sofa meet with fire regulations?

Money

What are you paying for in your rent and is it clear from your contracts?
Have you paid a deposit? If so what is it for and is it refundable?
Have you got a receipt for what you have paid?
Are you or the owner responsible for water charges/other bills?
How much will it cost to heat the house?

Services

What services is the owner providing for you, if any? Window cleaning, gardening, lighting of common parts, dustbin and refuse disposal?

Insurance

Do you wish to be insured; have you shopped around for insurance companies?

Agreements

Do you know what the contract means?
If so what type of contract is it?
Are you jointly liable with other tenants?
Is there an inventory of furniture etc?
Have you talked to the previous occupants of the house and asked them if they have any comments that would help you?
Have you been given a copy of the contract you have signed?
Have you got a written agreement for any repairs/alterations that need doing?

Owner

Do you know the owner’s name, address and telephone no.?

Outside the property

Does the roof look sound (you can check for damp from inside the house)?
Have the gutters got plants growing out of them?
Are the drains clear?
Is any of the woodwork rotting or unsafe?

If you have agreed anything verbally with the landlord, whether it be additional furniture, repairs or dates to pay rent, please make sure you get these in writing and signed by the landlord.

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We currently serve over 100 higher education institutions throughout the UK and counting. Whether you are looking for rooms in private student houses, on-campus, or your own flat, you’ll find it on your local studentpad site.

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