Looking for a great house can be a really exciting time but making sure you find the right accommodation is really important. Think really carefully before making a decision you could regret for the rest of the academic year.
Do not rush.
If you want to find the right accommodation, it is best to take your time. It is a massive decision, and it is really easy to get carried away with how brilliant the house is, the amount of space you will have or the promises the landlord and agents make of the great new kitchen or bathroom they will be providing. However; you must remember above all else, you are entering into a legally binding agreement.
Give yourself lots of time to think about this decision. There is no need to hurry this and sign up before Christmas. There will always be properties available so there is really no need to sign early and then regret your decision. Don’t listen to the rumours.
Think about who you are going to share with.
Many students will decide to live with others from their course or from halls within weeks of meeting them and try to find the right accommodation without knowing them really well. Unfortunately, sometimes people do have arguments, drop out or fail their exams but the agreement will remain in place and is legally binding on all tenants, even if they don’t move in. Be sure (as much as you can) that the people you choose to live with when you sign are the people you want to move in with next September.
Consider your options carefully.
You may see the first house and think it perfect but always look at more than one place. This will help you decide whether your initial decision is the right one. Think about not just the condition of the property but how far is it from university or the shops? What’s your route to university and what is it like at night? Do you feel safe? It would be a good idea to see the property several times at different times of the day if you can.
Speak to current tenants.
Try to speak to the current tenants and do this alone without the agents or landlord being there if possible. Ask them what their experience has been over the year. Have they had any persistent problems with the property and if so, what has the landlord or agent’s response to this? Remember that disrepair problems do arise with properties every now and then; it is the response from the landlord or agents that is important.
Think about your opinion of the agent or landlord.
A good agent or landlord will listen to your questions and give you as much time as you want to view the property as many times as you want, to consider the contract and generally take your time to decide.
Landlords will commonly put pressure on potential tenants, they will tell you that the property is in great demand, that other students are going to see the house later and unless you sign there and then, you will lose it. This may not necessarily be true.
Remember that agents or landlords want you to sign to ensure that their property is full and in the case of the agent, to earn their fee. Also remember agents work for landlords, not you.
It might be true that you could miss out on the house, and this is hard especially if you really like it but don’t let this pressure you into entering a contract you don’t fully understand.
Once you have paid a deposit, signed your contract and the landlord agreed that the property is yours, it will be very difficult if not impossible to change your mind.
Before you consider paying any money at all or signing a contract, ask to see the agreement and take it away for at least 24 hours to read it through.
Get advice on what you are being asked to sign and consider this thoroughly. There are many responsibilities as a tenant you need to be aware of.
Consider the cost of rent and if you can actually afford it. Once you have signed the agreement, you have committed to pay this and there will be no argument you can make to avoid liability.
The amount will be expressed as a weekly, monthly or termly amount. How does this compare with your student funding?
If you can’t afford the property, do not sign the agreement as you will be legally bound to pay for the property whether you can afford it or not!
Reviewed October 2023