Are you wondering how to find your student house? Finding student accommodation is usually a long and complicated process. There’s a lot of things to consider and often times it doesn’t end up entirely as planned. From housemates, to estate agents, to rental agreements, there’s plenty of things to be confused about. – We’ve compiled a step by step guide on everything you need to know about finding your student house, and how to find one. Here we go!
1. When should I start looking?
In first year, people seem to start talking about looking for houses as soon as they get to halls. There’s this notion floating around that you need to start looking for your house as soon as possible, because all the good houses disappear before January. – You’ll be happy to know that this isn’t really the case. It’s far more important to be confident in your preferences about a house, as well as who you’re living with rather than rushing into signing as quick as you can. While it is true that houses start going only a month or two in, that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do, and some houses aren’t even released onto the market until later. Having said that, you’ll have to keep in mind that this will depend on your university, as some cities tend to start looking much earlier.
Just be aware: While it’s good to make a decision early, you won’t be happy with your decision after you end up signing a house with people in the first month only to meet a your preferred group of friends a month later. A good time to start looking for a house is ideally in December, but January is okay too. This way, you have a few months to meet some friends and determine whether or not you really want to live with them. Only 28% of students reported looking for houses before December, so there should be no reason to worry about all the good houses going if you leave it this long. In some cases, you might miss out on the absolute best of the best houses, but having an amazing house with the wrong people doesn’t make up for it. Despite all this, make sure you do some research into the specifics for your city, because it may be slightly different for you.
2. Who should I live with?
Having already mentioned how important this is, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this is by far the most important part of moving into your student house. If you don’t live with the right people, you’re quite simply not going to have a good time. – There’s obviously no definition of “the right people”; that’s something unique to you as a person. The most crucial part is to make sure you get on with them before signing a house together. Only move in with people you don’t know if absolutely necessary. And even then, you should meet up with them beforehand to make sure you’re compatible. It’s good to discuss various aspects like cleanliness, noise levels, what you’re looking for in a house, as well anything else relevant to your needs. It’s important to be aware of the common mistakes when moving into a student house, and this is definitely one of them. If you want to learn more about what mistakes to avoid, check out our article on the ‘top 5 mistakes you can make when moving into a student house’ so you know exactly what to expect!
You can meet your housemates in various places. A lot of people tend to move into a student house with their existing flatmates from halls. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to get a compatible group of friends in your accommodation in first year, so a lot of people move in with people from outside their flat. Getting the opportunity to pick your own housemates is one of the main benefits about student housing. If you want to read more about the pros and cons of student housing, make sure to check out our article on ‘Student Accommodation vs Student Housing‘. – Alternatively if you don’t know who you’re going to live with next year, don’t worry just yet. – There’s plenty of avenues to meet potential flatmates: your course, societies, other people in your building etc. And even then, if you still don’t have anyone to live with, your university more than likely has plenty of facebook groups dedicated to finding flatmates that you can post in.
3. What kind of house do we want?
Once you’ve figured out who your housemates are going to be, the next step is to figure out what kind of house you want. Ideally, you’d all get together and discuss what exactly you’re looking for in a house. It’s important for all of your housemates to determine the necessary criteria for your house. Do one of you have a car? In which case, you’ll need to think about parking. Does one of you have course equipment that takes up a lot of space? If so, you might need to look for houses with a large enough bedroom. Whatever the circumstances, make sure you know exactly what you need when it comes to meeting with the estate agent. Some common things you’ll need to consider are:
- Washing machine / Dryer
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms/toilets
- Location (distance to town, distance to uni)
Among all the things you’ll need to discuss with your housemates before starting the process for looking for a house, one of the most crucial ones is price. It’s paramount that all of you agree on the sort-of price range you’re looking for. In 2020, 51% of students reported struggling to keep up with rent. To avoid this, you and all your flatmates need to come up with a price ceiling that you won’t go above. You can’t have one of you wanting to get a house significantly more expensive than everyone else. Similarly, you can’t have one person wanting a house significantly cheaper. Make sure you can all agree on a price-range, and in the case you can’t, you may end up deciding to go for a house where people can pay different amounts each month. This could be due to differences in bedroom sizes, ensuites etc.
4. Picking an estate agent/landlord
When it comes to renting a student house, you’ll usually be renting through an estate agent. Alternatively, you can find private landlords renting out their own houses, cutting out the middleman. The only difference is that most of the time, landlords pay estate agents to look after the house for them instead of having to do the work themselves. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with renting with a private landlord, if anything it’s almost always cheaper as it cuts out management costs. The only negatives of a private landlord are that you miss out on certain things a good estate agent might provide, like payment portals, quick support, more availability, as well as usually more experience with lettings. – That’s not to say you can’t find a good private landlord, just make sure you do your due diligence.
If you’re going through an estate agent, make sure they’ve got all the necessary certifications as required by the government. Estate agents must be a part of either the Property Redress Scheme or the The Property Ombudsman Limited. This usually isn’t such a big deal, but make sure to double check on their website for their certifications when it comes to relatively unknown student estate agencies.
How do we find an estate agent?
Finding an estate agent tends to be the easy part; it’s finding the actual house that ends up being quite difficult. Most students find their estate agent through word of mouth or usually just by going with what’s popular in your area. A good option is to scour through properties online in your area until you find a few you like. Once you’ve found some, give the estate agents a ring and arrange some property viewings. That way, you can take a look at the houses you want and they’ll be able to recommend similar houses. ‘Savethestudent’ has a great link on all the different student estate agents depending on your city. You can have a look at it here.
Once you’ve settled on a few potential estate agents, you’ll want to head online and check for reviews. You can either find a dedicated estate agent review website, or you can simply go to the house reviews on student angle and see what people are saying about them.
5. Talking to your estate agent
This is another one of the most important parts, and you have to make sure you’re ready for it otherwise you’ll end up wasting time viewing houses you don’t even like. Now that you know exactly what you want in a house, you have to feed all of that information to your estate agent. Give them every little detail. Let them know the things you 100% need and tell them to rule out every house that doesn’t have that feature. Then, get them to rule out all the things you 100% don’t want. Once you’ve done those two things, you can talk to them about certain features or aspects of the house you might like, but aren’t exactly necessary. – Basically, tell them all of the things you discussed with your housemates in step 3, so they know exactly what to show you.
6. What should we look for when viewing the house?
Viewing a student house is a complicated and often risky process. There’s so many things that you need to look out for, so you need to make sure you’re fully prepared and know exactly what to do. We have a full article on viewing a student house, so make sure you have a read for an in-depth guide on everything you need to know. In short, make sure everything is as expected and double check for any possible issues. This can range from damp, pests, water pressure, noise and plenty of others.
Make sure to check and make use of the reviews for your house, as this will provide valuable insight into any potential pitfalls. The best way to determine whether or not the house is right for you is to learn from the current or previous tenants. Make sure to ask as many questions as you can if the tenants happen to be there during your viewing. If they’re not there, leave a comment on the review on our page and hopefully they’ll be able to give you the answer you’re looking for.
7. How do we secure the house?
Once you’ve found the right house, the next to step is to get everything in order with the landlord and estate agent so that you can relax knowing the house is officially yours for the next academic year. First things first, give the estate agent a call and let them know you’d like to sign for the house. Agents are typically quick to send out all the relevant forms by email, and they’ll more than likely have the feature to sign them electronically. If not, you may have to go into the estate agency to sign the papers.
It’s important you get all the documents signed as quickly as you can, but make sure you read through everything properly and double check everything is as it should be. According to the 2020 National Student Accommodation Survey, 1 in 3 students don’t read their accommodation contract. Don’t be one of these people. You’ll either be sent a joint-tenancy agreement, or an individual contract. It will more than likely be a joint-agreement, but if you have the choice you should always go with an individual contract, as you won’t be held liable for any of your housemates.
Out of the forms and documents sent to you, make sure you check all of these:
- Tenancy agreement (Check the dates, tenant’s names, rent price etc.)
- Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS)
- Inventory (make sure everything that’s supposed to be there is there)
Congratulations! You’ve now secured your student house! Now it’s time to get everything prepared and ready to move in at the start of the next academic year! Make sure to check out our article on the top 10 things you absolutely need in your student house, so you’re ready to make the most of it.