Finding a house to live in for your second or third year of university can be challenging, especially if you are moving from halls. Students start looking for houses in November and December and it's best to try and secure one before Christmas so that you don’t have the stress of it when you come back.
My ﬁrst piece of advice is to shop around. Don’t decide on the ﬁrst house that you see, there is a lot out there so don’t settle for less. There are a lot of student estate agents, and most of them are really helpful! If you ring up or send them an email, let them know your preferences and they will usually drive you to view the houses, which saves a lot of money for us! Make sure you decide between yourselves what you're looking for and what price range you’ve got. How many bedrooms, how many bathrooms and how much a week you're willing to pay. Most landlords include bills alongside rent but sometimes it's up to you to ﬁnd an alternate bill provider. These are really easy to ﬁnd and I’ll list some below if you're looking for any.
I’ve listed below some of the tips I think will help you when you're looking for a house. This year I am moving into a new house and I know what I’ll be on the lookout for due to mistakes I made last year:
- Decide on a price that you’re all willing to pay per week. A maximum and minimum may help to reﬁne your searches.
- Make sure you're all happy with the amount of the deposit you need to pay, as you can’t get your keys until all deposits are paid.
- Check the ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms. Trying to get ready in the morning when there's a queue to use the bathroom can prove quite diﬃcult.
- If any of you have cars, check that parking is available and is FREE! Otherwise, parking is very expensive and will add to the cost of your house.
- When you're looking around the house, be sure to ﬂush all the toilets and turn all the showers on. Some of them might not work or can be faulty and it’s important that these get ﬁxed before you move in.
- In the kitchen, ask if kettles, microwaves, and toasters are included. Some houses don't provide these which means you may have to buy them.
- Whilst you're in the kitchen, check fridge space. If there are ﬁve of you sharing a fridge with four shelves, it may not work out very well
- You’ll be traveling to university and to the city and back, so ask or look for the closest bus stops and shops.
- Ask about call out fees. Will you be charged if you get locked out?
- If the tenants that live in the house currently are in. Ask them about the house. As if they like it, if the landlords are good and eﬃcient, and if the area is safe.
- When you're looking around have a look at the locks. Is the front door secure? Are there locks on bedroom doors and bathrooms?
- Whilst looking at locks, ask the landlord to change them for you before your tenancy starts. You can never be too safe!
- Check the phone signal when you're walking around. Make sure you can get a good signal in all rooms because the last thing you want is not being able to get onto the internet.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the landlord about changing things around the house. For example, do you want blackout blinds instead of curtains? Do you want a bigger kitchen table? The majority of the time they will say yes and help make these changes for when your tenancy starts.
- Last but not least, don’t get too excited that you forget to spot faults. Moving into a house with your friends its great fun but you need to get a secure, clean and comfortable house that works for you. Before I signed anything, myself and my housemates asked our parents to come and see it and they picked up on faults we never even thought of. It’s really important because after you’ve signed the papers and put the deposit down, there's no backing out.
I hope this was helpful, and here are some things that you may find useful:
- Bill provider: UNI Homes
- Bill provider: Splitthebills.co.uk
- Bill provider: helloacasa.com
- Estate agent: Sugar house properties
- Estate agent: Central Properties Leeds
- Estate agent: Unipol