In the majority of cases, during your first year you are allocated a place in halls, which means you don’t have to look for your own housing, and can just get on with making friends, getting drunk and finding your feet at university.
Then in your second and third year comes the massive step of looking for a place to stay. There are a number of problems that come with this, along with who to live with, how many of you, what landlord to go to and the best way to pay the bills.
My experience of student housing isn’t the best one, there were leaks, damaged walls, blocked sinks, broken beds and a landlord that went AWOL after the first week. We also had the additional issue of one of our housemates going to Spain for 6 months, so rent and bills became an issue.
These are my top 5 tips for having a stress free (or almost) experience of student housing.
1. Speak to other people about what landlords and letting agencies are reliable
Other students know better than anyone else what landlords and letting agencies are good and which ones aren’t. I wished that I had listened to them when they told me not to go with the agency I did, because I learned the hard way that they were right. The good landlords always come with recommendations from students and aren’t often part of larger companies, they have a few houses here and there, which are usually your safest bet.
2. Keep all of your documents and bills for everything, you never know when you might need them.
This was one thing that my mum always taught me to do from the minute I was old enough and I can’t thank her enough for it. By keeping you bills and your tenancy agreement you’ll always know what to do and who to call to sort it out. Its also always good to have proof of how much electricity, gas etc you are using from the meter to ensure you aren’t over charged!
3. Don’t be afraid to go to the university for help if you’re unsure of what to do
This is the one thing that I never did during this last year and I wish that I had. The university do have their students best interests at heart, and will always help you if at all possible! If we had gone to the university when we first started experiencing problems I have no doubt they would have been resolved much quicker!
4. Talk to the university to see if they have an approved landlord list
I don’t know if any other universities do this but Staffs has an approved landlord list, which is approved by the union and has students opinions on them. It is a good way to find a decent landlord and house, which the university can help you out with if anything goes wrong because they will have all the documents and details to hand.
5. Don’t rush into anything
The main mistake for me and my housemates last year was that we rushed into renting the first house that we saw, because we felt like we left it too late and we wouldn’t have anywhere to live! If we’d had more time to think about it then we would have been able to find a much better house that suited all of us, as this one was honestly just awful.
Hopefully next year will be better for me, with a landlord that actually seems to exist, and this has been helpful for all of you who are moving into new student accommodation!