This week alone, I’ve had about 12 emails from my estate agents informing us that we have viewings and will we please tidy up! Therefore, you lucky freshers out there are starting to think about second year and moving into a private student house. So, I present to you (fanfare please), your step-by-step guide to acquiring and moving into a student house. I genuinely feel like I have authority in writing this too, as I’m typing from my warm bedroom with ensuite and walk in freaking wardrobe! I am the oracle of student housing. I have all the knowledge. Gather round little ones…
- Early bird really does catch the non-infested house with off road parking.
By January of first year I knew who I was going to live with (actually I knew at the end of freshers fortnight). Get a group together ASAP, of people you’re sure you can tolerate living with and get searching. There’s a student housing problem in Portsmouth, as 25% of freshers still have to move directly into private housing. This is often the case, which means everyone is hunting so get going.
Rightmove Student is a good place to start, actually it’s usually the best. However, I’d also recommend searching for the estate agents in your local area, and go directly to their website. If you live in a uni town (obvs you do if you go to uni), most agents will also have a section on their website for student housing, and it tends to be more detailed than Rightmove Student. Create a list of the houses you’ve agreed you like and want to see. I do admit to creating an Excel spreadsheet, detailing cost, number of bathrooms, parking y/n, and a location rating 1-5. I loved it.
Don’t be scared by the angry boys begrudgingly letting you into their room for thirty seconds. Don’t be scared of estate agents. Have a proper look and take your time. I recommend asking:
Are bills included? If not, how much (roughly) do the current tenants pay?
On what basis do you pay rent, termly, monthly etc?
If there are facilities such as a garage, can you use it? (some landlords say no, idek why)
- Narrowing it down
If you can, ask around about the estate agents. Maybe post on yikyak (is that still a thing?) or twitter or student room and just check there’s no horror stories about secret fees or ancient viking ghosts or other fun stuff.
I can say, as someone who fucking loves their student house, that the important things are location (to bus stop/uni and a supermarket) and bathroom situations. Although, also think about heat (radiator size), if the parking is street or off-road, and if there’s a nice communal area.
- When you’ve found THE ONE
You’ll probably have to trot down to the estate agents, but before you sign ANYTHING, ask a few more questions:
How much will be your responsibility regarding breakages/natural wear and tear?
Will you deal with a service or the landlord directly if there is a problem? (Hehe, our landlord is scared of students, so we have top lols with our estate agent’s management team).
ENSURE you all have separate guarantors. This basically means if Tommy drops out before Christmas, it is not your responsibility to pay his part of the rent, it’s probably Tommy’s mummy and daddy’s problem.
Do you need a parking permit for this road?
Also, make sure you’re not being mugged off by your agent’s fees. Estate agents are universally hated for a reason. They’re shady AF. Find out how much their admin fees are!
- Now the real argument begins
Rooms. All I can recommend is drawing from a hat. As the only girl in a house of testosterone, I was allocated the room with my own bathroom. Something I admittedly orchestrated when we first saw the house.
- Even more adult stuff!
Did you know, if your bills or rent bounce it can affect your credit score. If you set up a joint account it’s not as drastic. It means bills and rent are drawn from one account, and you can leave some money in there for the household stuff like lightbulbs (they cost more than you think)…alternatively a drinking kitty.
Also make sure you’re council tax exempt, which as a student you’re entitled to. You will probably have to fill out a form on the local council’s website. Alternatively, your estate agent may take care of that for you.
- SUMMER TO-DO’s
Due to new law, you’ll have to jolly down to the estate agents about a month before you move in, to prove you’re legally allowed to live in the UK.
Consider some contents insurance. Student houses are easy target robberies and unless you’re a secret Rockerfeller, you won’t be able to replace your laptop, TV, speakers, jewellery etc. Protect my bubble do package deals. If you’ve got a car, your insurance company may do bolt on packages. This may seem like a waste of £50, but you’ll be singing a different song if you’re entire life is taken from you, including a 2500 word essay a day before deadline.
- MOVE IN
Photograph everything before you unpack as insurance.
Check your gas metre.
- As Beyonce once said: Bills Bills Bills
If bills are not included in your rent, have a quick shop around for the cheapest deals. CALL THE SUPPLIERS. If we hadn’t called British Gas when we moved in, we’d be paying almost 300% more than what we do now. Get a fixed rate if you can, you’ll go into debt in winter, but it’ll equal out in the summer. For Wifi, Virgin do good student deals.
That’s it. It’s not that scary, I promise. It requires calling people on the phone, which is truly horrific to some people I know, but you get quicker responses than email, and you often get a lot further when you speak to an actual human being.
Living in a house is very different from halls. I lived with foreign exchange, who are crazy and therefore there was a constant party in my flat. Whereas, my house now is cosy, we have a real living room and kitchen. We watch TV like a family in the evening, have meals together, play board games like dorks. So it’s really different, but I think I prefer this, even if I do miss my old flatmates like crazy and not just because I HAVE A WALK IN WARDROBE AND ENSUITE.
Any of you guys moving into new houses or got any other tips? Let me know!