1. Start early…but not too early
You will find a house throughout the year, even in June, but the earlier you start the more choice you have and the better chance of finding the right house for your group. Students seem to start looking earlier each year. Some are keen to secure a house before they go home at Christmas so they can return in January without the weight of house hunting hanging over them in the run up to exams. If you haven’t managed to secure a house by Christmas then January is the time to really get moving, it’s also when the universities’ housing lists come out.
“Don’t panic into choosing a house before Christmas. The Agents put a lot of pressure on you, telling you that xx% of students rent before Christmas, but even more houses come on in January, especially with private landlords, so that can be the best time…”
2. Communicate with your future housemates.
Talk about what you want out of the house-sharing experience. Think about how much rent you want to pay, how many people you want to share a house with, do you want to share with a couple? What if they break up? How often do you want to party? Will you all house hunt together or will a few of you go ahead first? etc.
3. Check out the fees.
Agents will always charge administration fees. This is the equivalent of on average £10 a month each on top of your rent. Student Houses Cardiff do not charge any agency fees, saving you the equivalent of approx £10 a month over your tenancy. Check with the agent or landlord, and, if you don’t want to pay, choose a landlord who doesn’t charge.
4. Check out the house
Has it got central heating? Is it in good condition? Does it have good security? Does it have current gas and electrical safety certificates and an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) – these are all required by law? Is the furniture fire resistant? A good landlord or agent will always be happy to tell you.
5. Check out the area
Take a walk around the area the house is in. Go in some shops, have a drink in the local pub. Is it close to the things you need most, bus routes, supermarket etc? Is it in the heart of student life, or in a more suburban residential area? Decide what’s important to you.
6. Check out the agent/landlord
Always speak to the current tenants if they are there when you view. Ask them about the house, the area and, importantly, the agent or landlord. The nicest student house can be ruined by an agent who doesn’t fix the central heating for weeks. Generally renting direct from the landlord (like Student Houses Cardiff) rather than an agent has the best reputation. It makes sense that a landlord will want to look after their properties more keenly than an agent with over 200 properties on their books. Most 2nd and 3rd years who have experience of renting will be looking to rent direct. Make sure that the landlord is experienced, professional and local (like Student Houses Cardiff).
7. When you make an appointment
Be sure to attend as arranged. If for any reason you have to alter or cancel an appointment always let the landlord/agent know. Never call at a property unannounced, this can disturb existing student tenants.
8. Ask questions and read the paperwork
If you have found the house you want make sure the landlord/agent gives you clear information about setting up the tenancy, and that they put deposits in an approved deposit protection scheme (a legal requirement). Make sure they let you read the contract before you sign.