5 Tips for Finding Flats to Rent for University
By David Raymond Southall Google+
Once you’ve survived Freshers’ Week and made some good friends, you’re officially ready for the next challenge of finding flats to rent to live with your new good friends next year.
For first year students, on-campus accommodation makes turning up to lectures a lot easier – and the journey home from the student union a lot shorter.
Searching through student flats to rent in your area can be difficult, but with these top tips you’ll be sure to find the right flat for you and your future flatmates!
1. Start Searching Early for Flats to Rent
Remember that you won’t be the only student searching for somewhere to live. You’ll face a lot of competition for flats to rent close to your university, so it’s best to start your search early.
Around the end of March is a good time to start looking. By then you’ll have a good idea of who you want to live with and where, but it’s before the busy exam period gets underway.
Start your search by posting a free advert as a home seeker. You can do this individually or team up with some friends to search for a flat. That way potential landlords can get in touch with you, and you can check listings for flats to rent with the home providers on the site.
You should also stop by your university’s accommodation office for free advice and guidance about renting in your area.
2. Take a Checklist
Once you’ve found a flat that you’re interested in renting, you’ll want to view it with your future flatmates.
Arrange a time that suits everyone so you can all see the property before you commit. Plus, with more eyes viewing the flat you can make sure that you don’t miss anything.
Get together before the viewing and print out a flat viewing checklist to take with you. You should also write a list of additional questions so that you don’t forget to ask something once you get there.
You could even assign roles between you so that you cover all the bases. For example, while one of you is asking questions, another person can tick off items on the checklist, and someone else can be responsible for taking photos.
One of your main considerations will be the location of the property and the distance to campus. If the flats to rent near uni are out of your budget, investigate the transport links near the property so you know how long your journey will take.
Look at what services and amenities are nearby too. If the flat is near a supermarket then lugging back all those tins of baked beans will be a lot easier!
While you’re viewing the flat, make sure to look for any signs of damp or mould. A lot of student rentals are old properties and some are poorly maintained.
Old plumbing can also mean low water pressure so check this while you’re inspecting the bathroom. Check that the flat is well-insulated too, as you don’t want to be paying extortionate heating bills in winter.
And, most importantly, check the safety and security of the flat. Make sure that all the doors and windows lock, inspect plug sockets and test any smoke alarms. You should also ask the landlord about whether the flat has an up-to-date Gas Safety Certificate, which is required by law.
But, be sure to see at least three or four flats before you commit. This way you’ll be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of different rentals. And, if your favourite gets snapped up you’ll have a back-up plan.
3. Talk to Other Tenants
If you’re lucky enough to view a property when the current tenants are at home then grab the chance to ask them what they think of the flat.
Not only have the current tenants got the best idea of what it’s really like to live there, they also have nothing to lose by telling you the truth.
But instead of asking them closed questions which force yes or no answers, ask them to name the best and worst part of living in the flat.
This way you can get a good idea of what they value in their home and neighbourhood, and see if you share their priorities. And, as long as your landlord isn’t right there, they might even make you aware of something that the landlord hasn’t mentioned.
4. Read the Tenancy Agreement and Inventory Carefully
Viewing flats to rent and talking to the current tenants will give you a really good idea of what to expect while you’re searching for a student rental.
However, it’s crucial that you check the tenancy agreement and inventory carefully to avoid any nasty surprises.
The tenancy agreement will outline what is expected of you as the tenants in terms of payment and caring for the property.
This includes details such as the deposit, the length of the agreement, the notice period, penalty for late payment, payment of bills, and joint liability for early cancellation.
The inventory is a list of items included in the rental of the flat, such as furniture, appliances, and utensils. The inventory should also include any damage to the property before the start date of your contract, such as a stained carpet or broken bathroom tiles.
5. Finalise the Details
Once you decide on a flat then you are likely to have more in-depth questions for the landlord before you sign.
If you’re still unsure of any part of the tenancy agreement then this is the time to bring it up. Have a parent or someone you trust look it over to confirm that it’s clear and fair.
You also may need to double check details with your landlord such as when you can move in, whether you will have to pay full or partial rent up until then, and what the process is for getting any repairs done.
And, if you made a note of any damage that doesn’t seem to be on the inventory then make the landlord aware of this so that the inventory can be updated and signed.
Last but not least, it’s crucial to finalise the details with your flatmates.
Decide if those with smaller rooms will pay less rent, and if the deposit will be divided accordingly or not. Set clear rules for bringing guests, and how bills and shared items will be paid for.
You definitely don’t want to find the perfect flat and then disagree on living arrangements.
Find the Right Student Flat for You
Paying for your university accommodation will be your biggest monthly expense, but you will spend a lot of time in your flat studying at home. So, it’s important to find somewhere that fits your needs and your budget.
This combined with having to take the opinions of several people into consideration can make looking for a flat to share very difficult.
But, by following these five tips for finding a flat you are sure to find accommodation that meets all your requirements.
If you have any questions about finding student flats to rent, contact us today.