Finding your home away from home whilst studying seems like a daunting task, but don’t worry! We’ve all been there. Use our step by step guide to house hunting and student accommodation and failing that, please pop by the Student Welfare or Union office for advice and support.
FIND A HOME
So you’re starting your search, but where do you begin?
It's tempting to rush in and start house hunting without proper knowledge. We urge you to resist the temptation.
You're much more likely to end up somewhere you are happier if you take the time to work out a few key things:
Location you want to be in
Properties available in that area
What to expect in terms of quality and price
How many people and who you want to live with
The right questions to ask
When to start looking
What support is available
WHERE TO LOOK
When looking for a house we recommend you take the time to shop around. There is a huge variety of housing options, landlords and letting agents to choose from so it is important that you don't rush into signing a contract.
Our ‘LAU House Hunting’ Facebook group is a great source to find students offering their rooms for rent if you are looking for a quick move or perhaps needing a short term let.
RATE YOUR LANDLORD
Rate Your Landlord is simple. It works like many other review websites that allow customers to have their say. Rate Your Landlord aims to allow students to talk about their personal renting experiences and for others to learn from them to become savvy, safe and happy renters. Many students are brand new to the world of private renting, so other people's opinions can be a useful tool.
Rate Your Landlord is here to provide an open, fair and balanced forum for tenants to have their say, for landlords to respond, and for students to learn what's what in the world of renting.
VIEWING A HOUSE?
So you’ve found the perfect house and you’ve arranged a viewing with the landlord or estate agent. Please make sure you use our handy checklist of top questions to ask and things you should know before making that all-important decision.
We'll check your contracts! Before you sign for a house, drop by the Union with your contract and we will check through it for you for free. Can't get in to speak to us?
Moving into a new place is always exciting, but even after you have moved everything in, there are some important things you should remember. This list will help you with what to do in the first few weeks.
Take photos of everything! This includes all imperfections on ceilings, walls, floors, doors, furniture and all items (including the mattress) supplied by the landlord. This is just in case there happens to be a dispute about damage when you move out or during inspections.
CHECK EVERYTHING ON THE INVENTORY
Once you take the keys, you will have a limited amount of time (check how long exactly with your landlord/letting agent) to be able to check and make amendments to the inventory list. This is the list of everything that is provided to you so make sure that it is correct and any imperfections/broken equipment is noted down. It’s always best to make the landlord aware of any differences in the inventory so maybe pop it in an email too.
Don’t forget to check that the property has working smoke alarms and a current gas certificate.
ARRANGE BILLS & SUPPLIERS
The first thing to do is sort out your utilities. This will include your electricity and/or gas, water, internet and TV license. Locate your meter and take a reading, note it down as soon as you can. Then call each utility supplier to arrange for your account to be set up. They will ask you to provide the meter reading to make sure you are not overpaying. If you’re not planning on watching live TV, you still have to notify the TV licence company.
Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax. You don’t need to do anything as the University will make the council aware.
REGISTER TO VOTE
For voter registration online, you just need your National Insurance number. It is important to update your address as soon as you move so you don’t forget when the deadline comes for the next election or referendum.
CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS
Create a list of all the accounts you have made that use your home or previous address. If you’re unsure, it’s useful to think of all the accounts that charge you for a service, in order to bill you they need the address linked to your bank account. This can include streaming services, subscription boxes, takeaway services and online shopping.
CHECK YOUR DEPOSIT RECORDS
Your landlord is legally required to put your deposit into a government-backed deposit protection scheme. This is usually the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. You should always receive a confirmation of this, typically via email, so make sure you keep that email safe, as you'll need it when you come to move out.
So your tenancy is coming to an end and you need to move out. It can be easy to just take care of your belongings, pack up and leave the property but there are some important steps you need to take to make sure you tie up those loose ends:
NOTIFY UTILITIES YOU'RE LEAVING
Be sure to inform all your utility companies that you are moving out e.g. water, gas and electricity. This ensures they will receive the correct final meter readings and can close the accounts for you when you leave to avoid overcharging you. Some internet/TV providers will ask you to give them a month or more notice to do this, so make sure you check the details in advance. They could also ask you to send their equipment back, as you only rent it for the duration of the contract so make sure you return it using the company’s instructions.
TAKE FINAL METER READINGS
For the close of utility accounts, you will need to supply final meter readings. Make sure you take the full reading on the meter and the date that you took it. Some companies can accept a photo of the meter but check with them beforehand.
Once you have moved all your belongings out of the property – and that means ALL as you could be charged for anything you leave behind - be sure to do a full deep clean of everywhere. If the landlord does not think that the property was left ready for someone else to move in, they could retain a cleaning charge from your deposit which means you won’t get all your money back.
Be sure to clean everywhere inside and out including the oven and fridge and don’t forget to take the bins out, as you could again be charged if the landlord has to remove your binbags themselves.
REQUEST INVENTORY & CHECK EVERYTHING
Take stock of everything in the inventory that was there when you moved in. The landlord can deduct money from your deposit for anything that is damaged, broken or missing from the property. Also, check that you haven’t left items behind when you leave. You could be charged for the disposal of anything that is left at the property.
Having evidence is important. Take photos of the property when you move out to prove that the place is clean, tidy, and everything on the inventory is accounted for. If you need to dispute any charges taken off the deposit, you will have evidence.
FOLLOW UP ON YOUR DEPOSIT
Your landlord should return the deposit within 10 days of you agreeing to the final charges (if any). If you do not get a confirmation after the 10 days, follow it up with the landlord, letting agent, and deposit scheme operator.
CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS TO YOUR NEW ONE
You should change your address just before you move out so you don’t miss any post. Make sure you change the address on any account that charges your bank account and/or delivers to you and don’t forget to change your address with your bank itself!