How To Rent Your First Student Digs
How To Rent Your First Student Digs
Getting your first student home can be expensive and time consuming. Make sure you and your mates opt for the right first home, whether that be house or flat, with this helpful film.
Step 1: Who should I live with?
If you're a student you'll have the option to live in halls of residence. This is accommodation supplied by the university or college but you still have to pay for them. You'll get your own bedroom, but you'll share a kitchen or bathroom.
The other option is moving into your own flat either on your own or with a group of friends. If you've got no friends and cant afford your own place, the university will often have a housing office where you can find prospective flatmates looking for people to share with.
Try and pick your flatmates carefully. Jimi may be good down the pub, but if he cant make the rent, you'll end up on the street.
Step 2: What sort of flat should I get?
Choosing a flat is a big commitment. Most lease agreements will be six months to a year, so you have got to know that you've got the money coming to pay for that, and you don't choose a property that's above your means. If you're a student - you're probably going to finance it through a combination of your parents generosity, government loans and grants, and any additional income from jobs and that. So don't get carried away when looking for a flat. Think do I really need a gym and conservatory?
Do your research. Some places come with hidden costs - like being unfurnished, cold, or full of rats.
Make an appointment with an estate agent or landlord and have a look around. Assess the size of the place - will it be big enough for you and your mates? Does the gas and hot water work? Does it look secure? Is it near college - because that'll save on transport. All these things are important when looking round a place so there are no hidden surprises in store.
Step 3: Well what do I need to get the flat?
Ok so once you've found you're flat, you're going to need to put down a deposit to secure it. This can be anything up to six weeks rent - it entirely depends on the estate agent and the landlord. This deposit is a bit like a good behaviour bond. If the flat is returned to the landlord at the end of your lease undamaged, then you'll get your deposit back. Ask your landlord to provide an inventory of the contents of the house and get a receipt for the deposit paid. There's a law called a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme which is being introduced to stop landlords wrongly holding back your deposit. You'll also have to give them one months rent in advance just because.
You've got to be prepared for a big outlay at the front, so budget accordingly. Oh and a little tip - a lot properties are in demand especially with a new term starting. So have a bit of cash on you when looking round the flat - it's often possible to place a holding deposit with the estate agent which means you get first refusal
Once you've secured the property you'll need to give the estate two references - one personal, and one professional.
You'll also need a guarantor - usually a parent, who can say they will cover your rent should a problem arise. If you have a joint tenancy agreement, any guarantor will also be jointly liable for overdue rent or damage caused by the other tenants - another reason why you should pick your flatmates carefully.
Once everything is in place you'll be made to sign a tenancy agreement - that's to protect your rights and the landlords. It will outline your responsibilities as a tenant and the length of the lease. So read all the paperwork carefully, and don't sign anything you don't agree with.
Step 4: What else should I think about?
It doesn't stop at the rent. When you become self sufficient you will also have to start paying bills for gas electricity and water. You need to choose a rent that leaves you with enough money to cover the bills as well.
Now as a student you're exempt from council tax - which is great - but you need to get a council tax exemption form from the council. So find out what borough the