Finding your home from home
Finding a new place to host those legendary pre-parties can be difficult, time-consuming and stressful. There’s always a huge pressure to get it done as soon as possible out of fear that all the good houses will go! Below are a few tips to make finding your new digs a walk in the park.
Before you start
Before you start viewing houses you need to decide who you are living with and specifically how many of you there will be in the house. 4/5 is the most common number, which on the one hand means there are a lot of 5 bed houses but it could also mean that there are a lot of other groups of 5 all trying to secure houses at the same time. However, don’t base who you want to live with purely on how easy it is to find a house. Take your time and consider who you want to live with – most contracts are year-long, which will feel like a long time if you don’t get on with your housemates.
Where to look
There are two main popular student areas in Southampton (depending on where you study): Portswood and Highfield. Both have vast quantities of housing available in all shapes and sizes. The question boils down to where you want to be closer to Jesters or campus?
Questions to ask and things to look out for during a viewing
Viewing houses can be overwhelming and sometimes a little awkward. What’s important is that you ask the right questions whilst you’re there. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask the current tenants – they might have the most reliable information, after all they have lived in the property for some time already.
Rent per person per week – Sometimes rent is written as monthly per person or monthly for the entire house. Ask for it to be provided in per person per week – this makes it easier to compare between other houses you’re looking at.
Combi boiler or water tank – Unless you want to constantly be running out of hot water half way through your morning shower it might be worth asking about the boiler, does it feed into a water tank? Or is hot water instant and infinite? Are bills included?
Damp & general wear and tear – Damp patches and mould on the walls and ceilings is bad news, because it can mean leaks and potentially other problems. Look at the overall interior and the paint on the walls – if the effort hasn’t been put in, it implies that the house hasn’t not been well looked after.
Appliances – Look out for fridges and freezers, washing machines, tumble driers and ovens. Check they look functional and count how many there are – will there be enough space in the fridge for all that beer or pizza?
Space – It may seem obvious but is it big enough? Try to work out where you would put all your stuff, in particular look at the cupboard space in the kitchen.
Safety & Security – Do the doors and windows all shut properly and have locks? Are there smoke/heat detectors on every floor?
Inventory – What furnishings actually come with your house? Does that huge flat screen TV belong to the current tenants?
Sealing the deal
You’re going to actually want to read the terms and conditions on this one. Once you’re ready to rent you’ll have to sign contracts, pay deposits or rent in advance, organise a guarantor etc. It’s important to familiarise yourself with these terms and why all these steps are necessary. Remember if you find your house through an estate agent, they will probably want you to pay agency fees. It is worth looking into this before you proceed with anything – they can get pretty expensive and you can avoid them if you use a student lettings agency, such as SUSU Lettings or if you use a site that directly links you with landlords instead. Click here to find out what to look out for in your tenancy agreement.
Arrive early – This way you can get a feel for the area you’ll be living in before you view the property.
Be thorough – Just because an estate agent wants to get back to the office and get their commission, don’t let them pressure you into rushing. Be thorough, look at everything and ask questions.
Take photos – If the current tenants don’t mind, take pictures to refer to later.
Don’t rush – You’ve got time, and SUSU Lettings always release their properties later than the other landlords and letting agencies to ensure that you don’t make hasty decisions – there will be also be houses available!
Be Proactive – Once you’ve found the place for you and you’ve asked the necessary questions and all you housemates agree, go for it!
We can help – Not only does SUSU Lettings have their own properties to rent but they won’t charge you agency fees! Even if you go with someone else, they can offer free advice and can check over your contract before you sign it.
Read more about our Don’t Rush to Rent campaign by clicking below…
Tags: advice, Don't rush to rend, help, home from home, housing, housing hunting, room, student housing, support, SUSU, tips, viewings