28 July 2014
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Student accommodation

This page is dedicated to helping students learn everything that they need to know about renting a property and finding suitable accommodation. For most students moving away from home to go to university will be their first experience of living away from a family environment. It can be a exciting, challenging but also stressful time for them. To assist them in making the best informed choice and to stop them committing the most common mistakes we have put together a comprehensive checklist of things to do and questions to ask.

Key points to remember are
Before you agree to anything or sign any documents make sure you have visited the property and walked around the neighbourhood.

Letting is a fast moving market, if you see a property that you really like and is suitable for your needs then be prepared to move fast, otherwise it might go quicker than you think.

Most university towns have certain areas where students are rife, these tend to be close to the place of study, transport links and within easy reach of shops and local amenities. These districts tend to have their own atmosphere, support and infrastructure aimed at academic life and students, all of these combined factors make them ideal places to live.

Look for a property that suits your personal preferences, lifestyle and the amount of money you have to spend.

The cost of rented accommodation mostly depends on it’s location and size. In the UK London is the most expensive area for students to live in.

Types of student accommodation
These can range from small converted houses while others can be purpose build blocks of flats. Some are self contained units whilst others have shared kitchens or bathroom facilities.

  • Halls of residence (Buildings owned and maintained by the university and normally only available to first year students).
  • House share
  • Room in a private house
  • Parent purchasers
  • Private rentals
  • Private flat
  • Private sector halls of residence

Questions to ask a landlord or letting agent

  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • What deposit is required?
  • Is rent in advance required?
  • Is the rental contact for 6 or 12 months?
  • Is there a break clause in the contract, if so how much notice do you have to give?
  • Is it furnished or unfurnished?
  • What furniture will be left in the property?
  • Does it have buildings or contents insurance?
  • Can you see the gas, electric and Energy Performance Certificates?
  • Are there any rules regarding holding parties or inviting friends around?
  • Can you decorate the property, like paint walls etc?
  • Who is responsible for the utility bills?
  • Are bill or token meters installed?
  • Who is responsible for the general upkeep and maintenance?
  • Will a emergency contact number be provided?

Checklist when viewing the property

  • Check the cleanliness of the overall condition. Inspect the furniture, cookers, bathroom etc.
  • Look at the security of the premises, is it double glazed. Are 5 lever mortice locks fitted to the external doors? Do the windows have locks?
  • Inspect the kitchen and make sure there is enough room for a decent sized fridge, cooker and washing machine to be fitted in there.
  • How close is the house to public transport like buses and train stations etc.
  • Are there any local shops, takeaways  nearby and if so what time are they open till.
  • Is there a rear garden and if so who is responsible for maintaining it.
  • Check to make sure all the utilities (toilet, shower, taps, heaters etc) are working.

Location

  • Is the property within easy commutable distance of the university.
  • Are there any late night shops and takeaways nearby.
  • How far away are the bus or train stops.
  • What are the neighbours like?

Tenancy agreements
This is written document and a legally binding contract between you and the landlord. It gives certain rights to both the tenant and the property owner.

Utility bills
Check with the landlord to see who is responsible for the gas, electricity, water and TV license bills. When working out your budget remember that heating costs can rise considerably during the winter months.

Council tax
Full time students are exempt from this.

Contents insurance
Remember that student digs and areas where they live tend to be targets for burglars. If you have expensive valuables then you should certainly consider protecting them.

Tips when looking for student accommodation
If you see a house that you are interested in renting go there in the evening, park up or walk around the neighbourhood and see what it’s like. Does it feel safe? Are there gangs of hooligans hanging around?  What’s the general atmosphere like?

Letting agents
There are many specialist companies out there who are solely in the business of matching a landlords properties with potential students tenants. They also carry out background checks on tenants and ensure that properties meet government regulations and standards. Many have their own websites where you can register online and be notified if a suitable house becomes available.

A point to remember is that because they charge landlords a fee not all landlords use their services and instead let their houses privately.


Links to other relevant graduate resources
Graduate cover letter example
Graduate CV template examples
Graduate internships
University courses

Student resource links
Mature student courses
Student accounts
Student cover letter
Student CV templates
Student discount cards
Student loan company
Student loans
Student travel
Student travel insurance

Graduate resources
Essay writing
Introduction to graduate fasttrack schemes
Revision tips
Study skills
UCAS personal statement
University interview questions


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