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SSAS tips for looking for a house

February 25, 2012

Looking for a house for the first time can be a daunting prospect, there are so many more things to consider than when applying for accomodation. The most important thing is not to panic as this needs to be thought about carefully. We have some recommendations for students looking for houses:

1. Don’t rush! Students tend to think that all the good houses will be gone unless you move fast, but this is not always the case. Southampton is such a student oriented area that there are a lot of student houses to choose from and some estate agents or private landlords don’t look for tenants until a lot later than others. By rushing your decision you may end up paying more than you need to, be in a worse location or have a poor quality house. You also need to make sure that you are 100% happy with who you are living with, remember: you have only know these people a couple of months and you have to live in a closer proximity with them for at least another year!!

2. Before signing a contract, make sure you have all the information you need. Don’t let estate agents pressure you into signing there and then if you are still unsure, they will always make the house sound better than it is and do their best to get a sale. Perhaps talk to the current tenants and find out a bit about the landlord, or if they have any current issues in the house. Be sure you are happy with the location, the size of all the rooms, value for money and it can sometimes be useful to investigate other little things such as parking, testing out the shower asking if the house has insulation as this can save on heating bills. Only sign if all of your housemates are on board and you are completely sure this is the house you want.

3. Be aware that if you go through an estate agent, they may charge ‘admin fees’ for creating your contract. This can be quite expensive and so if you wish to avoid this, go through a different estate agent or straight to the private landlord.

4. You will have to pay a deposit per person before moving into the house and the landlord is required to put this into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This basically protects your deposit if they go bankrupt. Most landlords will give you the full deposit back unless you have broken and not replaced something, but some landlords may take away things such as carpet cleaning services. Find out about this before signing the contract.

5. Read the contract carefully. Some landlords include extra requirements, such as not allowing blue-tack or pins in the wall or limiting the amount of people that can be in the house at any one time.  Breaking any of these requirements could lead to further reductions in your deposit.

6. Ask the landlord/estate agent/ tenants about what comes in the house as it may be case that you will have to buy something or bring it from home. This is often the case with a TV, but if the current students are in their final year and don’t need it any more, they may be willing to sell it on to you for a cheaper price. Toasters and kettles and some other appliances will not come with the house most of the time and you will probably want to have new ones anyway, but sometimes things such as a microwave or chairs will need to be purchased. Be aware of this to save on early arguments with landlords!

7. Work out how you will be sorting the bills next year. Some landlords offer to cover the price of the bills for an extra charge each week. This takes off the pressure of paying for bills, but be aware that this may end up costing you more, particularly in the summer months or if  you are willing to monitor your energy consumption.

8. Find out what the road and neighbours are like as some permanent residents may not appreciate noise or music late into the night and this may cause them to complain or even report a disturbance. If you think this will be a problem, try and find a house that is on a primarily student road. Otherwise, it is worth warning neighbours if you are planning to have a party.

9. Investigate how close to the uni you want to live, if you only want a five minute walk to lectures then there is no point looking for houses on other roads. If you are not too fussed about how far from uni you want to live, it is worth finding out how long it takes to walk or whether you can get a bus, or you might want to invest in a bike!

10. Make sure you have all the information for what to do when you move in. This includes the date and time (usually 1st July in Southampton) and where to collect the keys. If you are moving out of student accommodation you will also need to know what time you need to have left your current house.

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