Sam17 November 2015 17:56
Don’t Rush to Rent – know your rights before you sign
SPOTTED: letting agents stuffing flyers under flat doors, ‘to let’ boards all over the place and dodgy assurances that ‘all the good houses go quickly!’… There are plenty of myths about student housing in Southampton – here are a few of them busted.
**Look out for the Housing Week at the beginning of February for loads of useful information to help you find a house!**
MYTH 1 – Everyone gets a house before January!
Well that’s just not true. In the Vent About Your Rent survey last year we asked students when they signed their housing contract – it turns out that a whopping 72% of students waited until the New Year to get their house.
What are the benefits of waiting?
- Find out loads more about what to look for in a house when we hold events and release more information in January
- Read what other students have said about letting agents in the Vent About Your Rent survey (full results coming soon)
- Get to know your friends before they become the housemate from hell. You’ve only known them since September, a few more months won’t hurt!
- You can check out SUSU Lettings – the Students’ Union run lettings agency that won’t charge you agency fees
- Take advantage of The Advice Centre’s housing advice and contract checking service
- View the SASSH-accredited list of landlords and properties
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the big letting agents and their flashy advertising are your only option – private landlords can often have better quality houses, lower fees and more efficient service. In our survey the average rent charged per week by letting agents was £83.28, whereas private landlords charged an average of £75.82.
By waiting you could bag yourself a cheaper, cleaner, better maintained house with housemates you actually get along with. What’s not to love?!
MYTH 2 – All the good houses go first!
Some letting agents release their housing stocks in stages to trick people into thinking there aren’t many houses left. Private landlords will often wait to advertise their houses or just rely on adverts in the window because they don’t have the budget to splash out on fancy marketing, thousands of flyers or ice cream carts (we all know who I’m talking about…). If good houses are the easiest to get students to rent then it pretty much guaranteed that the more difficult ones to shift (think mould, rats, missing ceilings, leaking showers) will be pushed first.
A staggering 35.2% of students rated the quality of their house ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. It’s going to be your home over the next year and a place where you sleep, study and socialise – it’s worth taking your time to make the right decision. The majority of students look round three or more houses before choosing which one to go for and 38% said that the condition of the house was the most important factor when deciding.
If that doesn’t convince you then the nasty fact that 68% of students said that their house had mould or pests during their tenancy should certainly do the job…
MYTH 3 – I won’t have anywhere to live!
Don’t panic. You will. Southampton has a surplus of student housing, so don’t be pressured into signing for a house you’re not satisfied with. Houses to let are advertised throughout the year, so it’s possible to find a house well after the Easter break. You might also be able to apply to live in Halls of Residence for another year (groups of friends can also do this!), and the University will provide information about this later in the year. Facebook groups for house-hunting or even housemate-hunting, speedmating events and so much more going on means you definitely won’t miss out even if you don’t get hooked in by the first shiny flyer thrust under your nose.
What can I do?
Tell your friends not to rush!
Overhear your friend talking about getting a house? Your coursemates saying that all the good houses will be gone? Tell them not to panic. It’s so important that everyone realizes the cunning plan some more unscrupulous letting agents have to rush people into signing – so do your bit and let them know!
Don’t believe the hype
Be skeptical of the claims made on flyers, spam emails or lettings boards. The stats show that people do get houses in the New Year, but also that it’s really easy for students to get caught out!
Report flyers to reception/uni security
If you see anyone flyering in halls or flyers put under your door then please let your halls reception know. If you’re on campus and see anyone wandering about advertising then give University Security a call (the number is on the back of your student card).
Get involved in our campaign!
We’ve got so much planned. From handy house-hunting tips to housing clinics to get your contract checked, you’ll get loads more information over the next few weeks and months that will make sure you know your rights before you sign a contract. If you do need any advice on anything to do with housing then please get in touch with The Advice Centre: from deposit disputes to lazy landlords they will be able to help!
Get in touch! Questions, queries, opinions and thoughts
Email me at email@example.com
Add me as a friend on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter @zoology_sam
Or come and find me in the Sabb Office on Level 2 of Building 42!