Before you decide…
A step by step guide to student housing
01 | What can you afford?
Can you afford the accommodation? You will need to think how much the rent is and if it’s PPW (price you pay per week) or PCM (the price you pay per calendar month), and what is included in the rent?
Is it just the room in the house, or does it include other bills? In a house share you usually have to pay the household bills on top of your rent (something you might not have had to think about in halls) – this will probably include gas, water, electricity, TV licence and Wi-Fi (remember if you are a full time student you are exempt from paying council tax). These items all need to be budgeted in to your weekly or monthly allowance, there is no point living in fabulous accommodation if you cannot afford to go out and have fun.
02 | Where do you want to live?
How far do you want to live from the university? If you have to travel in to university every day think how much this will cost per week, as you will need to include this in your budget
03 | Who do you want to live with?
Popular student areas will normally have a range of properties to choose from. There may be flats for as few as two sharers or houses with room for up to 10. Decide how many people you’re going to share with and you’ll be ready to start your search. Remember though, you’ll need to split all the housework and the bills with whoever you choose to share with, so try to choose people you’ll get on with for the next 12 months!
04 | Getting a reference
Landlords will want to reference you to ensure you pay the rent on time and look after the property. Because in most cases students don’t have any renting history or full time employment, the landlord will seek a guarantor for each tenant. A guarantor (usually a parent or guardian) will agree to take joint responsibility for the rent for the property if you fail to. Guarantors are required to pay any rent arrears (if the tenant does not pay) and for any damages costing more than the deposit. Make sure you know who yours will be before you commit to renting somewhere.
05 | How much space do you need?
Does the accommodation have adequate space? Will your room have space for everything you need? A desk, computer, files, books, clothes and any other belongings e.g. skate board, guitar etc. Will you need to think about furniture? Is the property furnished or will you need to provide your own?
06 | Who is responsible for the management your property?
If you are renting your property through a lettings agent, find out whether you deal with the lettings agent or landlord if something needs repairing. This information will usually be in your welcome letter, if not speak to the lettings agent to find out.
07 | Is it safe to live in?
Always check that there is a gas safety record for any properties you are thinking of tenting; your potential lettings agent or landlord should have this.
Carbon monoxide detectors are not legally required but are recommended.
Smoke alarms and electrical certificates are not legally required (unless the house is a House in Multiple Occupation*) but are recommended. If the house is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), there should also be fire doors and fire blankets and you should check with your lettings agent that the landlord has a licence to run an HMO.
Check that any properties you like have good, well-fitting locks on the front and back doors and windows that work. Don’t forget that you will need to get your belongings insured.
08 | Paperwork
Make sure that you get all the necessary documents back to the lettings agent or landlord as soon as you can – signed and dated. Keep a copy of these safe for your records.
09 | Pay your deposit
Your deposit is held to ensure that any damages (over and above fair wear and tear) can be corrected at the end of the tenancy. Be sure that your deposit is held in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). A TDS will keep your money safe and help you to resolve and disputes at the end of the tenancy.
10 | Moving in
Most student properties will be let fully furnished, but make sure you have everything you need so you’re comfortable from the off – including things like a kettle, toaster, bedding etc (don’t forget toilet rolls). You will also need to check who pays for the electricity, gas, water, broadband and TV licence. Some student landlords will cover this in the rent, but if this isn’t included you will have to decide with your housemates how you are going to pay. Then set up a direct debit. Finally, make sure you know what to do and who to contact if something should go wrong.
11 | Moving out
When moving in, think ahead to when you will be moving out and importantly getting your deposit back for next year/beer money. If you receive an inventory, make sure you check it thoroughly and return it to your landlord or lettings agents with any comments and photos. You cannot be charged for any damage or missing items if your landlord or lettings agent doesn’t provide an inventory.
Frequently asked questions about student housing
Student accommodation in Durham
0845 604 4485