Living In Halls? It’s Definitely Time You Started Searching For Your Student House For Next Year. Here’s How…

So it’s nearly time to leave your cosy campus. Come and learn about soiled mattresses, deposit schemes and all things property from someone who’s done it badly


by Ciara Sheppard |
Published on

So you’re surviving your first year of Uni well. You’re pretty content in your comfortable, en suited halls. You’ve got a pretty sweet deal, in fact. Your university student housing office is just an email away should you run out of loo roll or have a problem with the cleaner’s early morning hoovering. Either way, you know they've usually got your back. If you’re lucky enough to live on a campus then you'll have settled in nicely to the bleary–eyed, vodka–scented, serial-snoozing bubble of your student community. Life’s good. That is until you realise it’s mid-Feb and you need to get looking for your first proper house asap, if you haven’t already. Leave it too much longer and you’ll be left with the house version of soggy biscuit in tea dregs – I learnt this the hard way. Remember, you’ll need to do all the searching, viewings and negotiating yourself, because, sadly you're going to be out in the big bad world of non-Campus life. In fact, you’re pretty much prime bait for rogue landlords and dodgy agencies. Again, I learnt that the hard way so I’ve complied a few tips to get you property savvy, so you don't end up in a damp, mould-infested hive like I did.

Who to Live With

Before you do any property hunting, you need to decide who you’re going to do it with. Choosing housemates is a long-term deal so makes sure you’re really sure before you decide to shack up. Not everyone is lucky enough to be put with their best mates by the random halls generator that decides your fate before you even arrive on your first day. If you’re one of these people then think about people who you get on with on your course. Don’t be afraid to make the first move in asking the ‘So… who are you living with next year?’ question. Chances are they will be in the same boat and you could be their saving grace. It’s also best to avoid signing your year away with someone you don’t know that well - avoid friends of friends you've vaguely met once in the pub. You'll only regret it.

When You’re Looking

Check out your landlord or agency before you sign anything. Seriously. With letting agencies, you assume they must be all proper and have your best interests at heart because, well, they’ve got a whole company n stuff, right? Not always. A quick Google search should glean plenty of rating and reviews of your letting agency of choice. Chances are, if they’re shit someone will have written about it. With private landlords it’s a bit trickier. Read the contract properly and follow your gut instinct. But then again, I ended up renting off a man who I later found rooting through my fridge on numerous occasions. And another who provided NINE students with one microwave-sized multipurpose hob-oven-grill to survive with for eight weeks when the real oven packed in. And another who I once found standing on my bed, apropros of nothing, while his mud-clogged Caterpillar’s trampled all over my Ikea sheets. So what do I know?

Or, to avoid this mess altogether, ask your Uni for preapproved landlords. Y'know, to save time and your sheets.

The Viewings

You’ll go on a lot of these and they’re time consuming so be prepared and don’t settle for any old rubbish. Ask the landlord or agent all the questions that they’ve been asked 37 times already that day: Are bills included? Does the TV come with it? What are the neighbours like? And more. If you can, have a sly word with the current tenants, they’ll be truthful because they’ve been there. You need to make sure you turn up on moving in day are there are no surprises. And for God’s sake please make sure the house comes furnished.

Another big one is mould and all things that grow where they shouldn’t. Don’t be afraid to snoop about in the deepest, darkest recesses of each room to check for damp and mould. Don’t do a My Friend and go to pull your shoes out of the bottom of your wardrobe after Christmas break to find furry, friendly, lurid-green alternatives.

When You Move In

Horrah! You’ve found the house your dreams (I hope), you’ve paid the deposit, maybe even the first month’s rent and it’s time to put your things in and make it all homely and you and stuff. Firstly, take photos. Be that guy. Be your mother for the day in fact. Snap around all the bedrooms, the hallways, and the communal areas and get photos of any small defects you aren’t so happy with. Then send them around your housemates and save them somewhere safe. This will be your ammo when it comes to charges day so you can dispute the hell out of anything that doesn’t sound right. Our landlord tried to charge us for five SOILED mattresses (I know, ergh) for no apparent reason. Luckily we’d taken the pics so were able to tell our landlord that this just ain’t gonna fly sister (sassy click optional).

Next, if you’ve gone with a private landlord you need to make sure they have placed your deposits in a TDP, or Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. They have to do this by law and it basically means that they can’t touch it until the years up and you’ve agreed to how much you’ll get back. You're welcome.

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Follow Ciara on Twitter @ciarasheppard

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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