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Need people who've been there re finding a house

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
edited March 27 in Work & Study
I have been told I can't have a place in halls as I live within the local area of my university, where I start in a few weeks. At the moment I'm living with my parents but we've agreed that I'll move out and find a student house. I don't know anyone at the uni and don't know the area very well.

So from anyone who has been there and done that, can you help?

-What does an accommodation agency do and do you have to pay to use one?

-I have a wad of papers full of private accommodatopn details, but I don't understand if these are for groups of students or individuals

-If I start looking this week, would I have to start paying straight away or could I wait and move in when my course starts?

- What should I look out for when I go to view the rooms?

-Will I have to sign a contract for a minimum amount of time?

I know it's a lot of questions but understandably, I'm fairly nervous about moving to the other side of town into a house of people I don't know, who might be nutters.
Post edited by JustV on

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My university (Lancaster) has a dedicated housing office thing in which you can just go in and look at what's available (uni accredited) or you can stick your name on a board saying you're looking for people to share a place with. The staff can help you find a place pretty easily and painlessly and since the properties have been looked at by the uni, they tend to be in reasonable condition.

    If you have to go it alone without the uni's help, as in looking at adverts in windows and the like, then it's simply a matter of finding a place (and a rent) that suits you. When you find a place you want to look at, you might be as well taking along someone you know (just in case you miss something obviously wrong with the place), assuming it's just you on your own.

    Things to ask: when the rent is required and how much (does it include bills?), Do you need to pay a deposit (sometimes a retainer is required if you want to keep stuff in the place over holidays). If it has gas heating or whatever, check when it was last serviced - the landlord must do this by law.

    They're the main things to consider and apart from that, use your common sense to see if it's ok.

    If you need to know more, just ask.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thank you. I am going to go into the uni tomorrow and look around for ads.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hello!
    Like they /\ /\ /\ said go to your university accommodation office who should be able to give you a FREE housing list and a booklet with advice on what to look for in a house. There are various types of accommodation you could go for from bedsit to shared house, and while I know you found halls a pain last year, private accomm shared housing is often better, costs are lower as bills get split etc, and it's less lonely. The good thing about the uni accommodation list is that landlords have to fit the right criteria, which means that all relevant fire safety etc checks should have been made.

    Understanding the details - they should usually state how many rooms the house has or how many rooms are up for rent. If you don't understand them - get your accommodation office to explain them.

    You'll also see posters around campus at the beginning of the year with tear off numbers from students looking for more housemates.

    I'd avoid agencies if possible - they are notorious for charging you vast sums of money for credit checks, references, cleaning etc.

    You can move in when your course starts, but may have to pay your deposit before then, and then a weeks or months rent when you pick up your keys [depending on how often you pay it.]

    You often have to sign a contract for one academic year, however someplaces may offer shorter ones (rarer). If moving in with strangers try to sign an individual contract so that you are not liable if someone ups and leaves without paying their rent.

    useful articles:

    finding a flat


    renting - your rights

    where does the cash go?

    My mate wrote this (education guardian housing guide)

    Hope you find somewhere nice
    Susie

    :)
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Susie
    You often have to sign a contract for one academic year, however someplaces may offer shorter ones (rarer).

    Legal bit: (AST= Assured Shorthold Tenancy)

    Term - if an AST is for a fixed term it must be granted for a period of at least six months and the landlord cannot obtain possession (unless the tenant breaks the terms of the AST) for the first six months. Alternatively an AST can be granted for a periodic term i.e. month to month, but possession cannot be ordered by the Court within the first six months and so technically there is still a six month minimum term.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey

    I neglected to suggest this, but putting up flyers around campus along the lines of "Flatmate seeking house to live in" wouldn't be a bad idea. I had a friend who did this and she got a nice room in a house because someone backed out at the last minute.

    Good luck!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thank you! I've made appointments to see 3 rooms tomorrow night so I'll see how it goes.

    :)
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Re: Need people who've been there re finding a house
    Originally posted by PussyKatty

    -What does an accommodation agency do and do you have to pay to use one?

    -I have a wad of papers full of private accommodatopn details, but I don't understand if these are for groups of students or individuals

    -If I start looking this week, would I have to start paying straight away or could I wait and move in when my course starts?

    - What should I look out for when I go to view the rooms?

    -Will I have to sign a contract for a minimum amount of time?


    Okay, others have given good advice. I'll try and answer your questions.

    1. Accommodation agencies generally have alist of properties and act as a sort of middle man between you and the landlord. Sometimes your uni has it's own accommodation agency that would be worth going to. Some accommodation agencies charge you a fee, but I think most just take some of the rent, so the rent may be higher than going direct.

    2. Ring up and ask. Some landlords like to let to whole groups, others take individuals. Depends.

    3. Sometimes you pay straight off, sometimes you pay reduced rate as a retainer until term starts, sometimes you dont pay at all until you move in, just a deposit. Depends on the landlord.

    4. Look out for the following -

    Kitchen - Is it big enough, what comes with it, enough drawers and cupboards, fridge and freezer of suitable size. Not too manky.

    Lounge - Is there one, or is it a bedroom? (Quite often in student houses it will be a bedroom.)

    Your room - which one would it be? How many electical points are there? Check the bed. Is there space for your stuff? Is it damp? Where are you in relation to the bathroom? If you're close to it then check how loud the toilet is from your room.

    The bathroom - Is there a shower? Does everything work?

    General - Parking, if you have a car. Check for single yellow lines and other odd restictions. General area, check for stuff like broken window glass on the road. How far are you from where most of your classes would be? How does the landlord want paying? What's the term of the lease? Is anyone else already in the house, if so you need to meet them first.

    5. Normally the contracts are for the whole term. Most landlords who have let to students before will have reasonable letting lengths sorted and will stage payments to coincide with term times / payments etc.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ok I went tonight to view 3 houses. Pretty keen on the first one, not least because the only other person who is living there is a sexy young bloke from Newcastle who told me it's "a bit lonely" there on his own. Not sure whether I should look at some more or just go for this one. It's £40 per week and 10 minutes walk from the uni. The other ok room I saw was only £30 per week but was the front room with the windows overlooking the street, and not available till a week after my course starts. Terrified at the thought of spending the first night in a strange place on my own.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Get the 40 a week one, but not just because of some guy that's there. Only get it if it's a decent house.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As if I would do a thing like that! No, I like the house too, and at least I have met this flatmate I didn't meet any of the others, and none of the others are in the first year. I want to share with first years so they don't mind loudness, drunkenness, etc. As you do. :) Oh yeah, and this house has internet access too.
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