Top 10 Househunting Tips
1) Before you even think about the house, think about WHO you want to live with
- Do you want to move in with your boyfriend/ girlfriend? What if you break up during the year?
- Would you rather live on your own, away from other students, e.g renting a room as a lodger?
- Do you want to stay on campus accommodation? Do you want to be an Residential Adviser?
- Are you compatible with your mates- same lifestyles- like going to bed early/ getting up early or are you a night owl? Similar music tastes?
- Are they generally reliable types- will they pay their rent, do their share of the cleaning or be a pain nicking your food and leaving their pants on the floor!
- Do you really want to live in a large house (more than 4)? Great for social networking but not when you want to get in the bathroom, or around exam time. Also, there can be more problems sorting out bills, or paying the rent if someone leaves. If you have a large group maybe think about renting two houses in the same street rather than piling into one huge house.
2) It’s boring, but read the small print of any tenancy agreement- especially the Tenants Responsibilities section- know what you’re letting yourself in for! You can ask to get the agreement checked at the Student Advice Centre or the Housing Office, Bramber House.
3) Most tenancy agreements you’re offered will be a joint tenancy. If one or more of the tenants don’t pay their share of the rent, the remaining ones can be asked to cover it by the landlord. If possible try and negotiate a separate tenancy agreement for your individual room, so you only have to pay your own rent.
4) How long can you commit to an agreement for? Most will be 12 months- so you have to pay over the summer- even if you don’t want to live there! You could risk it and only start looking for accommodation in the late summer for the tenancy to run from September and try and negotiate a shorter contract e.g 9 months. Remember, if you’re signing up for a long time you’re committed to pay the rent for that period- and the agreements are not easy to get out of!
You’ll probably need a months rent in advance and at least a months rent as a deposit – do you could be looking at £800-1000. If you don’t also have a UK based guarantor, you may be asked to pay much more than this- sometimes 6 months rent in advance (this is a big problem for some international students).
6) Letting Agents
If you rent through a letting agents, you’ll need even more money! They often charge admin fees for drawing up the tenancy agreement and doing reference checks. There’s no rules restricting how much they can charge, so shop around and compare costs .
The student advice centre often gets complaints about letting agents.Ask around and see whose letting agents have been o.k with them and which ones are nightmares. Beware that some large letting agents won’t let you get out of the tenancy agreement early or find a replacement tenant – which can be very expensive!
7) Tenancy Deposit Schemes
Within 14 days of paying your deposit the landlord/ agent should inform you in writing of which official scheme your precious money is protected by. If they don’t you may be able to take them to court and get compensation. See next weeks Badger for more details.
8 ) Rent through Studentpad
If possible start looking with studentpad (www.studentpad.co.uk/sussex) All landlords have to sign up to a Code of Standards and show the university legal documentation before they can advertise on the site. Accommodation for next year will start to be advertised from 25th February . Come to the Housing Fair on that day to get the password for Studentpad or contact the Housing Office.
9) Remember- don’t panic! There’s a large private rented sector in Brighton and as long as you’re not dead fussy about the house or the area you want to live in, you should get something.
10) For more info, tips and if you want to ask any questions come along to one of our housing talks run jointly by the SAC and the housing office
THURSDAY 12th FEBRUARY- 1-2pm, Mandela Hall
THURSDAY 12th FEBRUARY-6-7pm , Lancaster House
MONDAY 16TH FEBRUARY –1-2pm, Mandela Hall
TUESDAY 17th FEBRUARY –1-2pm, Mandela Hall
TUESDAY 17TH FEBRUARY –6-7pm, Lancaster House
THURSDAY 19TH FEBRUARY –1-2pm Mandela Hall
THURSDAY 19TH FEBRUARY –6-7pm Lancaster House
MONDAY 23rd FEBRUARY – 1-2pm Mandela Hall