Time spent carefully researching and inspecting a potential student property will prove time well spent, as it will ultimately save you time, money and misery.
Compile a Checklist
There are lots of aspects to consider when first viewing a property, and it’s all too easy to overlook important details in the excitement of a potential future home. For this reason it is advisable to compile a checklist of things to look for and ask about before even setting foot in any properties.
Also, by using a standardised list for all properties it will make it easier to weigh up the pros and cons of each when it comes to making a final decision. When you think back to House ‘A’, you might remember the spacious lounge and giant television, but forget about the flimsy locks and the suspicious droppings on the kitchen floor.
What Facilities Does it Have?
Before viewing any properties it is also good sense to first agree with housemates the facilities your new home must have. For instance you might decide that you can’t live without a washing machine, shower, a lounge or a decent Internet connection.
By doing this you are setting your own minimum requirement standard for everywhere you look. If a property is missing any of these key features then it would need to boast a major positive to outweigh the negative for it be even considered.
Other facilities to consider include whether it has a television, telephone, microwave or central heating – and what type electric, gas or oil – and also what furniture comes with the property?
Is There Enough Room?
Another crucial aspect to consider is whether the house can facilitate you and housemates and all your respective belongings:
- Are the bedrooms big enough for everyone?
- Is there enough storage space?
- Is there ample studying space?
- Is the kitchen big enough to accommodate everyone at the same time?
Is the Property in Good Condition?
When browsing around a prospective property, be sure to take note of its general condition because it is often a good indicator of the state of the whole house. If the landlord can’t be bothered attending to peeling wallpaper, for instance, then it’s unlikely they’ve given much thought to whether the heating is fully-functioning, or whether the cooker has been cleaned out properly.
Easily identifiable warning signs of poor maintenance include:
- damp and mould
- bare wires
- broken furniture
- mouse droppings
- worn stair carpets
If the property has been well looked after then it should also boast a decent level of security, with good quality locks on all windows and deadlocks on the outside doors.
It’s vital to ask any questions you have about any of the factors covered above and any others you may have when viewing the property. This is especially useful if you are being shown around by the present tenants because you can expect the answers to be honest and helpful.
Student Accommodation Service
It’s advisable to begin a search for housing by perusing the properties detailed on a university’s approved list for private sector student accommodation. All these properties will have been inspected and certified as having achieved all the necessary standards for fire safety, gas, electricity and security. By opting for a property on the list you can be reassured that it is of a good safe standard.
If you are unable to find an appropriate property on the approved list then you will have to look for privately advertised accommodation, either through local newspapers or letting agents. Bear in mind that the university is not accountable for properties and landlords that have not been registered with them and so you will need to exercise particular caution when assessing one of these properties.
Gas and Electricity Safety Standards
Nevertheless, there are certain standards you should expect from every property.
Under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998, all landlords are responsible for making sure that gas facilities are in good order and checked every 12 months. You should always ask to see landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate before the contract is signed. At present there are no laws that cover electrical safety in rental properties. Nonetheless, the landlord is responsible for the safety of all electrical equipment or installations that come with the property.
Finally, it’s advisable to see several properties before making up your mind which one to take. Do not allow landlords to pressurise you into signing a contract until you’re absolutely sure you want the house.