Last updated: 08/01/2021
The moment you’ve been waiting for - moving from halls to your first student house. For many, this will usher in an age of independence and a more luxurious living space – but to guarantee it, it’s important to know what to watch out for when hunting for your second year accommodation.
There are lots of decisions to be made, from deciding how much you want to spend, to where you should live and who you should live with. And dare we even mention the impact of the pandemic on house viewing decorum?!
But never fear – we’ve done the ground work for you and pulled together some tips to help you secure your ideal student house.
Before you start viewing properties…
1. Choose your housemates wisely
Remember – you will be spending A LOT of time with your housemates. Which is why it’s vital to pick your new roomies carefully and keep an eye out for any potential personality clashes. Don’t forget that it’s ok to branch out – just because you lived with them in first year, doesn’t mean you’re bound together for life. Consider whether there’s anyone from your course that could make a handy study buddy.
2. Work out a budget (and stick to it!)
Students spend on average £125 per week on their student accommodation, so it’s important to get your student budget right in case you encounter a shortfall.
Discuss with your future housemates what your collective housing budget is, factoring in any additional costs such as food, transport, utilities and your tenancy deposit – which will be a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent due to the tenancy deposit cap introduced in 2019.
Pro tip: When you’re house hunting, view houses at both the top and bottom of your price – this will give you a bit of context around what’s good value for money, and help you recognise a bargain when you see one!
3. Find a location that suits everyone
While you want to be close to your uni lectures, you’ll also want to consider your proximity to the town centre and local stores. It’s also worth checking out the transport links to make sure you can get to your lectures on time.
Once you’ve chosen a location, have a walk around to get a feel of what the area is like – remember, if the rent is cheap, it’s usually cheap for a reason!
When you’re looking around…
4. Don’t forget to follow the social distancing measures
We’re probably all a little too familiar with social-distancing guidelines by this point, but it’s always worth reiterating – especially for something like a student house viewing.
- There should be no more than two households present at the viewing, including the landlord or letting agent – so it might be sensible to elect a housemate representative to do a walk-through of the property, or arrange a “virtual viewing”.
- Wash your hands prior to the viewing – there should be handwashing facilities made available
- Maintain a 2 metre distance, or as much distance as possible from people who are not part of your household
- If possible, wear a face covering during the house viewing
Read more about what to expect from a student house viewing during the pandemic
5. Keep an eye out for damage
This might seem obvious, but check the walls and ceilings for signs of water damage, mould, or any general wear and tear that you would want to include on an inventory should you choose to rent the property.
Pro tip: Check all of the white goods for signs of damage or aging. You want to make sure that the oven, fridge, washing machine, and any other white goods will survive the duration of your residence – it’ll save the hassle of trying to arrange a replacement with the landlord if anything breaks down.
6. Check out the security
Is there a burglar alarm in place? Are the locks fit for purpose, or do they need replacing? There may be minimum security requirements set out on your student contents insurance policy , so check with your insurer as to whether the property meets these requirements.
7. What’s the heating situation?
Find out if it’s gas or electric, and that you know how to turn it on should you need to. You don’t want to be stuck in a freezing cold house in the height of winter with no way to warm yourself up!
Once you’ve found a student property you like…
8. Try to speak to the current housemates
If the current housemates happen to be around, see if you can have a chat with them to find out what it’s really like living in the property, first hand. Ask them questions about the landlord, such as how quickly they respond to repair requests.
9. Find out about tenancy deposit schemes
It is a legal requirement for the landlord or letting agent to pay your deposit into one of three government schemes and provide you with this information. Find out the full amount of the deposit and which government scheme your deposit will be paid into.
10. Read through the contract thoroughly before signing
Once you’ve signed the contract, you may need to pay a fee to get out of it so it’s important to make the right decision. Make sure to read through the tenancy agreement thoroughly before signing and negotiate any clauses you’re not sure about.
11. Don’t rush your decision
Ultimately, choosing your student house is a big decision, so make sure you’re not rushed by the letting agent, landlord, or your housemates into signing a contract you’re unsure about. Make sure that the property ticks all of the boxes on your personal checklist, and that you ask any questions you have prior to signing the tenancy agreement.
Staying protected in student accommodation
Once you’ve moved out of halls and into your student house share, you may find your belongings are no longer covered by your student halls insurance.
But no matter where you are or what you’re doing at uni, there’s always the risk of losing or damaging your belongings. Student insurance is a great first step towards making sure you’re not left out of pocket and disconnected should you have an unexpected mishap.
To stay up-to-date with the latest student guidance around COVID-19, please visit the government website.
*Voted the ‘Best Student Insurance Provider’ at the Insurance Choice Awards 2016-2020