1. Take your time
With over 20,000 properties available for students to let each year, you’re in no hurry. House hunting officially starts on 23 January 2016 – that’s when most of the 17,000 properties that are accredited by Unipol become available. If you sign for a property before January, you may end up renting one that’s leftover from last year and paying more than the going rate for it. With no shortage of great, affordable housing available you can afford to be a bit picky.
Decide what you want to get out of your house before you look – do you want a space where you can relax and study in comfort? Somewhere close to campus or close to the nightlife? If you haven’t already, take some time to really get to know your future flatmates so you can get the place that’s right for all of you.
2. Know who you’re renting from
The first thing to look out for is the Unipol Code thumbs up. Unipol is a charity that works to improve the standards in student housing across Leeds. Their accreditation scheme gives you confidence that your property is worth the money and you’ll have a bit of extra support if your landlord isn’t up to scratch.
Letting agents are always keen to make sales, especially if it’s a property that they have trouble selling. On your first visit, don’t let the agent push you into signing a contract if you have misgivings. If you can, ask to sleep on it and remember that there are going to be more suitable properties out there.
Join the Unipol priority mailing list www.unipol.org.uk/leedshh
3. Make use of the free advice
The Students’ Union Advice Service offers a free contract checking facility to make sure everything looks good before you start handing money over. Any good landlord will give you the time to do this so don’t feel pressured to sign too quickly.
It’s also a good idea to read it through thoroughly yourself but if there’s anything you’re not sure about you can get the SU’s take on it. If you have any questions or queries then you can email your Tenancy Agreement along with your questions to Leeds Beckett Students Union Advice Service at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Check your deposit is being looked after
It’s a legal requirement for landlords to put your deposit into a deposit protection scheme. This means that when it comes time to move again, providing you’ve met the terms of your tenancy agreement, you should be getting your deposit back.
If there is a dispute and your landlord thinks they have grounds to keep your deposit, you are able to appeal this through the deposit protection scheme provider. You can read a bit more about what to do in this case here or contact the SU Advice Service if you have any concerns.
5. Think about whether another year in halls could be right for you
Halls of residence aren’t just for freshers and are proving a popular option for students at all stages in their academic careers. There are lots of benefits to staying in halls as almost everything you’ll need is included in your rent, including internet. You get 24-hour maintenance, security and residential support teams giving you a few less things to worry about while you study.
Halls are social places where you get the chance to meet and make friends with people from all walks of life. If you’ve already made those connections you can choose to go into a flat with your friends or you can sign up for a single room. Online booking opens for halls from 1 Feb 2016.
Get in there first, sign up to the Unipol Priority Mailing list www.unipol.org.uk/leedshh