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14 ways to make sure next year's student house isn't a total nightmare

22nd April 2016
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Finding a place to live can be stressful, but to be honest there’s literally no more important thing in the world. Yes, literally – not one. So you’d better get it right*. Here’s some advice on hunting for houses and surviving once you’re in them.

1. Go via a reputable agent

There are lots of reliable property websites out there to start your search (and no, we’re not talking about Gumtree.) They’ll usually only advertise properties that come from a legit and trusted agent, so you can be sure they’re not going to scam you – which is a very nice thing to know.

2. Make sure you’re covered – properly

There are three government-approved letting agent redress schemes, and it’s important to make sure the agent you’re renting through is a member of one of them. They exist so that you have someone to go to if you have a dispute over anything (hello, getting your deposit back.)

The three schemes are:

Property Redress Scheme

The Property Ombudsman

Ombudsman Services

3. Check the transport links

Some things that are helpful when moving into a new house: night buses. Local train stations. Bus stops right outside the front gate. Not having to walk for half an hour under an underpass to wait in the rain *hoping* some form of transport will appear at some point. Urgh.

4. Be prepared to be flexible

Can you afford an extra £20 per month to be in a safe area that isn’t an hour’s uphill trek into uni? You spent that much on cider and chips last night, so we think you probably can.

5. But still investigate alternative areas

Living a 15-minute walk from the centre of town and could shave £100 off your rent per month (especially if you live in London.) That’s a lot to be able to save, and you might be able to sleep better at night without the hoards from the 24-hour McDonalds caterwauling outside your window.  

6. Read the contract

Honestly, we shouldn’t even have to remind you about this one.

7. And remember to sign it fully, and on time.


8. Get an inventory when you move in

And write down everything that isn’t perfect. Yes, including that tiny dent on the doorframe – otherwise you’re likely to be charged at the end.

9. Meet your housemates before you commit your year to them

Even if it’s only a couple of times. It’s likely that – especially if you’re at uni – you’ll already know them and that’ll be the reason why you’ve decided to live with them. But you never know; maybe a last minute drop out and someone failing their exams means your housemate plans end up in a bit of a flux. But even if you’ve only found your flatmates in the last couple of weeks, once you’ve met a couple of times you’ll be in a position to...

10. ...decide who gets the biggest/smallest/draftiest bedroom.

Some good advice to bear in mind: being single doesn’t automatically mean you get the box room. Boyfriends are no more important (or larger) than your extensive book/shoe/vinyl/used beer bottle collection. Make that clear.

11. You don’t need a cleaning rota

Just be a grown-up human who washes their dishes and mops the kitchen floor occasionally. Jeez.

12. Don’t treat the milk stealer like they’re some kind of young Stalin

You will live with this person - but honestly, guys. They probably just didn’t have quite enough semi-skimmed for both their tea and their cereal. Chill. Out.

13. *Don’t worry if you did not, in fact, get it right

If there’s a serious problem your landlord should fix it. If they don’t you’re within your rights to go a bit mental... or call the ombudsman. If it’s your flatmates who are being a-holes, attempt to talk to them about it. If they don’t change, well – you’re going to be out in a few months anyway and you never have to see these people again.

14. For the love of God, do your cleaning

Or you’ll never get that inventory back, and it might kybosh your summer plans somewhat. Come on - do the right thing.

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