Keywest Estate Agents / Mar 21

Finding the Right Student Accommodation isn’t Always Easy


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Finding student accommodation can be a daunting task. For most students it will be their first time living away from home. It’s normal to feel nervous or excited and you maybe sad about moving away from your family.

Settling into a new city can be hard at first, you will have to learn your way around and make new friends. Arranging student accommodation before you arrive will make things much easier for you.

When it comes to finding  the right place to stay there are a few different options out there for you to choose from. But how do you know which option will be best for you?

Research discovered by Which shows us that the majority of students live in student accommodation provided by the universities (41%), a lot rent privately (25%) or stay with family (23%). So should you rent privately or go with the university? House share or apartment?

where students live

What to Expect When Renting Private Accommodation

The first thing I will say to you is, if you are thinking about renting privately you should start your house search well in advance. DO NOT leave it to the last minute, once university has started it’s going to be more difficult to find somewhere.

The best places get snapped up fast so it’s better to secure your spot nice and early.

The good thing about renting privately is you get to choose exactly where you live and who with. Most students who rent privately will live in shared accommodation like a house share.

This is where you rent a room in a house and share the kitchen, bathroom and living room with other people. House shares usually have anywhere between 3 and 6 occupants.

You will also get to experience what it’s like to be independent and responsible for paying your own rent and bills. And you will have a little more freedom and less rules than living in accommodation provided by the university.

Now let’s take a look at the house shares vs apartments vs halls of residence.

Choosing the Right House Share and Roommates

The last thing you want is to get stuck in a nightmare house share with a load of scruffy house mates.

Imagine walking into the bathroom in the morning, stinky toilet, toe nail clippings in the sink, puddles of water on the floor, the kitchen a total grease pit, sink overflowing with dirty dishes, smelly bins, house mates keeping you up at night. Doesn’t sound like much fun right?

This is why it’s best to move in with people you already know but, it isn’t always possible. You may have to move in with complete strangers, so how do you avoid nightmare house shares?

The truth is most house shares are not going to be a nightmare at all. You will most likely be moving in with other students just like yourself and it’s a good way to make new friends.

But, it’s still a good idea to try to find out as much as you can about the people you will be sharing a house with before deciding to move in.

If you are able to visit the house before hand, inspect the kitchen and bathroom for cleanliness. If the kitchen and bathroom are total disasters it’s a good sign that it’s not going to be the cleanest house share in the world.

You can also you can also try to look up the occupants on social media, you can get a general idea about who someone is by checking out their Facebook profiles.

Student house shares should be furnished, the bedroom should contain a bed, a desk for study, and a wardrobe for clothes. There should be a sufficient number of bathrooms for the number of occupants in the house.

The kitchen should be equipped with a big enough fridge, a cooker, microwave and a washing machine. There should also be a living area with sofas plus table and chairs where members of the house can eat and socialise.

My top tip when renting house shares is to always check out the boiler system. Some old boilers are not able to supply enough hot water for large households and the water will run cold if somebody flushes a toilet for example.

You also want to make sure the property is secure with good locks on doors and windows plus locks on individual bedrooms. And another thing to take into consideration is do you smoke? If smoke really bothers you then you should look for a non smoking house share.

Renting your Own Apartments

Now this is the life! Your very own apartment just for you, fantastic if you can afford it. You could even take a look at moving in with a friend, though it will cost you more than a house share.

But living with a lot of other people can test your patience at times, if you feel you really need peace and quiet to study then an apartment is the way to go.

You will have a lot more privacy and your possessions will be more secure. Life in an apartment is much easier than a house share, nobody is there to get annoyed at you if you leave dirty dishes lying around.

Nobody will ever ask you to turn your music down (unless you upset the neighbours of course) and you never have to wait for the bathroom.

The kitchen and bathroom are always exactly as you left it and you don’t have to put up with anybody’s noise like music or phone calls. Obviously renting an apartment is the best way to go but like I said, only if you can afford it.

If you do decide to rent an apartment make sure it’s furnished and in a good location. You want to be close to public transport, banks, shops and supermarkets.

Inspect the property before renting, make sure it is secure and well maintained. Doors, locks and windows should be in good working order, as should any furniture and appliances.

Take a look at the building from the outside, this will give you a good idea of how well the property is being maintained. If you see any damage to the roof or windows then this is a sign that the landlord may not be 100% when it comes to maintenance.


Applying for Halls of Residence

University halls of residence are usually reserved for first year students. It can be a good idea if you’re moving to a new city and you don’t like the idea of sharing a house with strangers.

They may be slightly more expensive than a house share but it’s a great way to meet lots of new people.

You will be close by to the university so you will save money on transport. And living on campus in a student community is guaranteed to be one of the most fun experiences of your life.

After the first year is over you may decide to move into a house share with the new friends you made. This way you won’t have to share a house with total strangers.

Paying Bills

Whether you rent a house share or an apartment you are going to have to pay bills. Sometimes the bills are included in the cost of the rent but if not then you will have to pay for electricity, gas, water but not council tax.

A property wholly occupied by full time students is exempt from paying council tax. If you do get a bill for council tax you can apply for exemption.

Obviously paying bills if you live alone or with one other person in an apartment is easy, but when you are in a large house share it can get tricky.

How do you divide the bills up equally so that everyone in the house pays the same amount of money? You will need to devise a system and it’s best to get the money discussion out the way early on so there are no disagreements.

There are a few methods that people like to use, nominating one person to pay the bills and then collect the money from the rest of the household is one popular method.

You can also go for joint bank accounts although there may be trust issues if you don’t know your housemates well. One bill each is another method but you will need to make sure they are rotated evenly so everybody pays the same at the end of the year.

And of course there are good old mobile apps to help you like, Glidestudent and Splitthebills.

TV License and Internet

As well as paying the utility bills and council tax you will most likely need the internet. And if you own a TV you must also pay the TV license. Even if you live in a house share and have a TV in your room then you are responsible to pay the TV license.

You can pay for your TV license online and choose to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly totalling £150.50 per year.

When it comes to the internet and house shares you will need to take into consideration how many occupants are living in the house. You also need to think about how many people will be online and what people are using the internet for? Download speeds will need to be faster if there are a lot of people watching Netflix and downloading music at the same time.

There is no shortage of internet providers but some of the most popular in the UK are… BT Broadband, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband and Plusnet. There are also sites online that will find the best internet deals in your area, you just simply enter the postcode.

Landlords and Legislation

As well as potential housemates, it’s just as important to find out what you can about the landlord. Try asking the occupants if the landlord is prompt when responding to requests and carrying out general repairs and maintenance. The property should be properly maintained and you shouldn’t have any difficulty contacting the landlord at anytime.

Tenants have rights and obligations as do landlords, and it’s important for you to know what they are. Sometimes tenants can end up having disputes either with the landlord or other tenants in a house share. If this ever happens you need to know your legal rights and obligations so you can deal with the situation properly.

Contract and Deposits

Most landlords will want you to sign a 12 month contract and usually a guarantor is required to guarantee the rent. If you don’t have a guarantor then do not worry too much, it just means your search will be a little harder but not impossible.

You will also require a deposit, this is usually between 1 and 3 months rent. Your deposit will be returned to you at the end of the contract term providing there is no damages or repairs to pay for.

It’s a good idea to request an inventory containing a list along with photographs of the contents in the property. If this isn’t provided take lots of photographs yourself and make a list of contents. This can be used as evidence if there is any dispute about damages in the future.

Finding Student Accommodation Online

The best place to start your search is online. If you are looking for student accommodation in Leicester then our website is the perfect solution.

We are one of the largest independent letting agents managing over 400 student properties in Leicester.

Alternatively you can use one of the online giants Rightmove  or Zoopla. If you are specifically looking for shared housing then you can try studentspareroom, unipol and studentaccommodationuk.

If you are aiming to live in the university halls of residence then you need to to apply early. There are limited spaces and there will be a lot of applicants so the sooner you secure a space the better.

To apply for university halls of residence you will need to contact the university you are going to. There are also private halls of residence which will cost you a little more but usually have better facilities than the university.