How many ants do you need to rent out an apartment?
Okay, so I apologise for the awful joke, nonetheless, I’m here to give you a list of things to consider when private renting a flat while you are at university. I have moved every year, trying out private renting and student accommodation, both with their great and not so great experiences and I feel like I have learnt a lot along the way. Getting a flat is something that should not be taken lightly, you need to do your research on the flat, the landlord, and everything in between. It is after all, where you will be spending a whole year, or more if you enjoy the experience. I have compiled a short, but by no means extensive, list of some of the things you should consider when private renting a flat.
Probably the most important thing to consider is who you are living with. Private letting is different from student accommodation. You are now all in the same lease and liable for each other. You need to make sure that everyone is absolutely certain that they will be able to fulfil the whole lease and that everyone is able to pay their rent every month. Trust me when I say it can get really complicated and stressful if there is unpaid rent, there can be serious court repercussions.
#2 BILLS! DO YOUR RESEARCH
Look at how big the property is and how big the ceilings are. These all factor into how much the place will cost to heat. Heating and electricity are expensive, so it is vital to be in a smaller property and that everyone is willing to be frugal. Make sure that you look around for different providers too, some can be more expensive than others.
#3 COUNCIL TAX
Students are exempt from paying council tax so make sure that you sort this with the council and provide them all with letters from the university confirming your university position. Full-time students are the only ones that are exempt from paying council tax so if you are a part-time student you need to factor the council tax bills into your monthly expenses.
#4 THE LANDLORD
This is a VERY important one. You need to make sure that your landlord is willing to work with you and your flatmates regarding the upkeep of the property and that both parties are on the same page.
Read your contract!! Get to know it well and make sure that you comply with it.
Research the cheapest but most efficient Wi-Fi because you’re all students and need to make sure that if you’re doing assignments at the very last minute your Wi-Fi doesn’t cut out.
Make sure you do an itinerary. An itinerary is usually a document that you keep alongside your contract. You usually have a week to comb through the property and agree on the itinerary with your landlord. Note all utensils provided by the landlord, look through the flat with a fine-toothed comb and take photographs of any type of damage. This will cover all of your bases, so you are not made liable for any previous damages.
#8 SECURITY AND PRIVACY
If it is a ground floor flat, look for security and privacy. You might not think about it, but this can often make or break a property. I once lived on a ground floor flat on a street where my bedroom faced out onto the street. I never had any daylight in my room because I didn’t have any blinds so made sure my curtains were always closed. It was also very testing at times knowing that you are easily accessible for robberies. You need to make sure that there is some kind of security in place.
#9 LOOK AT LOADS OF PROPERTIES
Look around and get to know a place. Don’t be afraid to visit loads of places. Many girls from HCAU agree that when you just go for a flat for the sake of convenience, it can make you miserable, especially if it’s not the best environment. Remember that you need to see yourself living there for at least a year and perhaps think if you can stay there for another year after to safe any moving around.
#10 KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AS A TENANT
Make sure that you do all your research. Universities can often offer advice on your rights as a tenant. Shelter is also a good service that can give advice.
There is so much amazing advice on private renting property on the Shelter website. If you ever need more help or have any questions, the Student Hub on campus has amazing staff on hand that can help answer any queries, gives you advice and put your mind at ease.