A Student Property Guide: Part One
FINDING YOUR FUTURE HOME
As graduates, we know the struggle of finding that house which is perfect for you and your group of friends. Sometimes it’s left too late, sometimes there’s one thing missing from the property. But we are confident that there will be something for you on University Cribs.
This property guide has been created to help you through your first house viewing. It is a compilation of useful tips and tricks that we picked up throughout our time as students, without the confusing jargon…
First things first; find the right group of friends
First year students often find their house early in first term, after only 8 weeks of being at university. It’s stressed to students in halls that they won’t get a house if they don’t organise themselves ASAP. This is why first year students are more likely to live with their flatmates from halls – they are already living with them so they’ve most probably already picked up on any bad habits. If you can get through one year with your flatmates, what’s another year to it? If arguments happen with your flatmates in the first few weeks of freshers, you know which ones to avoid when you’re arranging a meet up to organise your second year house. It’s hard to judge how you and your first year mates will get on in a home environment, so it’s important to address issues in the beginning to avoid fallings out in your next academic year.
Remember any of your friends could have terrible habits. One may think that their dishes are washed by a magical kitchen fairy! The other might have a habit of playing terrible music at 3am, always staying awake until the early hours. Someone else might think that smoking in the property is acceptable… None of these habits are ones you want to live with. It’s easy to cope with your mates bad habits, we all have annoying traits! Just make sure that you aren’t moving in with someone you’re uncomfortable around, or who you feel could cause tension in the house. At the end of the day you have to remember, this is your home for a whole year, you want to feel at home when you’re there.
And if your friends ‘bad habits’ are a worry for you, give it time to see if you think you can handle them… Or, if they can handle yours!
Well, don’t wait until there are only a few properties left, but don’t rush into renting the first property you see!
A lot of first time student renters will go with the first property they are shown. It has spacious bedrooms, it’s in a good location and it looks relatively clean…
Right around the corner is a property for the same price; newly refurbished, giant bedrooms, a TV on every bedroom wall AND a hot tub!
Ok, we aren’t saying that this will always be the case… But, your dream property could be right around the corner and you’ve only set eyes on one place. Make sure you view at least 3 houses before you decide which one you want to live in. If you snap up the first property you see then you have nothing to compare it to. It’s worth getting a good idea of the type of property your budget can get you. You can then work out if you are willing to spend more, or if you can still get a really nice property and save money from your budget.
This is your time (no parents allowed) to find a home that is perfect for you, so make sure you are happy with it.
Take notes whilst you are at the house viewing
Make sure at least one member of your party is making notes or taking pictures of any pre-existing damages that are visible inside the property. For example, loose cupboard doors, wobbly hinges, or flaking paint on the walls.
Here are a few things to look out for;
- Damage to the walls
- Loose blinds
- Wonky bed frames
- Burn marks on furniture
- Mattress stains or loose springs
- Loose cupboard doors/doors in general
- Flaking paint on the walls
- Excess mould, or marks on the walls
It may seem like we are stating the obvious, but these damages will cost you extra at the end of the year if they aren’t identified early. Any major flaws to the property should be bought up before you move in, this way they will hopefully rectify the situation before you move in.
Check for damp
Damp and mould can be common in student houses, especially in older properties that have been in use for years and seen several tenants.
As well as being aesthetically unappealing, the damp or mould throughout the property may cause problems to your health, cause bad smells and ruin your clothes.
Location, location, location
Location is key, especially with student housing. You don’t want to be too far away from everyone else or your school campus – this can be an influencer on how often you miss your early morning seminars.
Think of the following when you are at your house viewings;
- How close to campus are you?
- Are you in area where noise will be an issue?
- Are you a long distance from other friends?
- How close to transport links are you?
A lot of universities have buildings spread throughout one main area. You and your housemates may study different courses, so finding a middle ground for all of you is important and fair.
Unfortunately, noise is something that can’t be controlled. You are bound to experience rowdy students stumbling down the street after a night out, and in some cases it may actually be you who is being disruptive! It’s something you have to deal with
Electric, gas and water supply
Make a note of any loose sockets or cables that are hazardous or prominent where they shouldn’t be
- Check for the meters; are they accessible?
- Turn the taps on in the bathroom and kitchen, you don’t want to move into a property with poor water pressure or the possibility of leaks
Try to avoid properties that have a lot of obvious issues, this is the last thing you want to worry about, especially when your parent aren’t there to help!
Most student properties are rented out fully furnished, however, some are left bare for your arrival. You may be slightly put out if you arrive expecting everything to be ready, to then see an empty house!
- How are the bedrooms furnished? Do you have a desk, a desk chair and a mattress? What about space for clothes?
- Are kitchen appliances (microwave, kettle, toaster) included in your rent?
- Do you have access to a washing machine?
If you find this out before your move in date then you know exactly what to expect. In the long run, it will save you several group trips to IKEA during your first few days at the new house
If you are lucky enough to bump into one of the current tenants at the viewing, make sure you ask for their opinions on the house and the landlord (although, maybe not when the landlord can hear). Students like to help each other out and will give you their honest opinion on their experience with this particular property.
- Is the landlord helpful and quick at responding?
- What is the area like to live in?
- What is the best and worst thing about the property?
- Have you had any issues with electric/gas/water?
There is quite literally NOTHING worse than having issues with your property or your landlord, whilst you are at uni.
Your years at University are the best years of your life
Make sure you are happy with your housemates, your house and everything in-between, and take full advantage of the year ahead!
Once you have found your future home it’s GO, GO, GO
Take a look at our ‘After the viewings’ blog to see what happens next