It’s that time of the year again, and everyone is at it: house hunting. We’re here to help you along the way.
You’ve organised a million and one viewings, and you can’t discern one house from the other, so how do you make that final decision that is going to make and break your next year of university? It’s all in the details.
Check out the questions you need to be asking to sort the top notch student pads from the seriously dodgy dwellings.
How much is the rent and what does that cover?
This might seem like an easy one, but you might find it hard to compare a £90 a week per person house with bills included, with a £70 a week house where bills are not included.
Check out how much your bills might cost with glide.co.uk, a handy website where you can split all your bills, including broadband and TV license, between you and your housemates. You might find that you can save yourself some money by not including bills in the rent you pay.
What furniture is included with the house?
You don’t want to turn up on moving day and find that the lovely memory foam mattress you’d been prepared to stretch your budget for was actually the previous tenant’s. Save yourself a nasty surprise, and always double check. Look over the itinerary of the house to make sure you are aware of what is included in your renting contract.
Ask! Drop as many questions as you want onto the landlord and make them work for your hard earned money and student loan.
Is there a damp or pest problem?
If you’ve got a strong stomach then ask what exactly they’re going to do to tackle the problem. If they have a flimsy, quickly put together answer then ascertain that they are going to be doing nothing to tackle the problem and leave the house be.
Trust me, you do not want to be moving out your house because of pests during exam season!
Can you test the shower?
No, I don’t mean hop in for a quick scrub right then and there. This might seem like a strange request, but if you’re going to have to put up with a weak dribble for the next year of your life, you will certainly want to know about it beforehand. It might get frustrating having to stand under the shower for 20 minutes waiting for the soap bubbles to rinse out of your hair.
It’s also a good idea to check the shower and the bathroom in general for any mould or dirt in the grouting, it can be a real pain to shift when you move in. Think about it, you’re going to be paying for a clean flat, that’s what you should get!
Is the house well insulated?
Likewise, ask if the heaters in the flat or house are efficient. It’s all well and good having heaters blasting out heat, but if you have to stand right next to the heater to actually feel this, chances are their a little rubbish!
Make sure that the contract is clear and easy to understand. Check what the terms of your tenancy are. When do you have to vacate the property? Are you allowed pets? How long does the landlord have to fix any problems you might be having with the house? What are the consequences if you or the landlord break the contract? Never sign a tenancy agreement until you’ve fully read and understood the terms.
What is the local area like?
Is there much crime in the neighbourhood? Is there a local supermarket? Are there any pubs or places to eat nearby? And perhaps most importantly, how far away from the university is it? If the house isn’t within walking distance, you might need to consider public transport.
Don’t forget to factor this in to your budget!
Although it can be cheaper to live further out, it’s always best to keep in mind that you may end up paying much more than you thought you would once the hefty price of a buss pass is added onto your rent.
Finally, can you speak to any of the current tenants?
Chance are that your landlord has never even lived in the house he’s attempting to rent to you, so why not ask the people who actually have. They can tell you exactly what it’s like, from how good the landlord is, to how thin the walls are.
And chances are that they’ve been sat there watching you awkwardly while you’ve been wandering around their house.