It’s probably a bit late in the year to be posting this as I know most people will have next year’s accommodation sorted, but I didn’t dare tempt fate before we’d fully signed our contract!
I’m so excited for next year already, myself and two of my bestest friends are renting a lovely house, in a village (with a conservatory!), and I can’t wait. I’ve already started planning my room and purchased a blanket or two. But how do you go about finding the perfect house?
Research, Research, Research
As with just about anything, you really need to do your research before committing. Narrow down your search by deciding on areas you’d prefer not to live – for instance we wanted to avoid Hales Place in Canterbury. Work out how many bedrooms and the size of the rooms – who wants/needs a double bed? Do you need parking spaces? Then look into it a bit deeper. Where can you get a campus parking permit? Where’s closer to shops? Is it an easy walk to campus?
Contact Letting Agencies
By all means browse Rightmove, Student Tennant and wherever else advertises, but also pick up the phone and ring lettings agencies. Let them know what you are looking for, and whether you’d be willing to look at larger houses and add other people in. They’ll often remember your call and keep you in mind when they have newer properties come available!
I would never, ever, ever consider renting a house without visiting it first, but I know people who have. I like to walk around the area, work out if it’s quiet/safe, and get a feel for the house.
But, obviously, turn a blind eye to student mess. By all means watch out for ingrained dirtiness, dodgy fixtures etc, but don’t turn down a house because it’s messy – remember that it will more than likely have a deep clean before you move in. Case in point: in one house I viewed I ended up standing in a girls’ dirty knickers. Thank goodness I was wearing shoes!
If you can, view the house with some of the current tenants in at the time. You can ask how willing the landlord is to helping out when things go wrong (ours last year was great, but she was on holiday so often we could rarely get hold of her). Ask if previous tenants got their deposit back. Ask why they aren’t renting the house again the next year. Ask how much bills are costing them. Just find out as much as you can!
Check For Mould
Mould is a good indicator of (1) how damp the house gets, and (2) how good a clean the house gets each summer. Check the bathroom (including the shower curtain), especially in the grouting round the tiles. Also check in cupboards. A damp smell in kitchen cupboards is a worrying sign! Wardrobes can also get damp – one friend had mould grow on her clothes due to damp.
Query The Contract
It’s always a good idea to query any parts of the contract you don’t understand. Check you aren’t liable for non-fault repairs. Find out who is in charge of maintaining the garden. Ask what appliances come with the house – I know of a landlord that didn’t provide a vacuum cleaner!
But above all, just make sure you would feel happy and comfortable living there. Don’t rush into a decision as 9 months is a long time, and rent isn’t exactly cheap!
Did you have a lovely home or a disgusting hovel as your student housing? Any tips on finding a place to live?