Here's our top ten tips when house hunting:
- Don't rush into sharing a house with people you don't know really well
Signing a contract too early can leave you tied to sharing with people you don't really want to, and if you all fall out before you are due to move in, you may not be able to get out of your contract. Choose the right people to live with and you'll have a great time together. Spend time before signing anything, discussing what you all want out of your year as housemates.
- Take your time and choose wisely for a hassle free year
The best reference for the property and landlord will come from the current tenants. Try to speak to them without the landlord there to get a true picture of what it is like to live in the property and whether the landlord has been prompt in responding to requests for repairs, etc.
- Check that the house is secure
Is the house secure? Are all external doors and door locks adequate? Does the property have a working burglar alarm?
- Visit the property in the evening
The area may feel safe during the day but it is also worth visiting in the evening to see what it is like at night.
- Get any promises in writing
If you have agreed anything verbally with the landlord, whether it be additional furniture, repairs or dates to pay rent, please make sure you get these in writing and signed by the landlord. Make sure you agree a date by which repairs and improvements will be done by, e.g. before you move in.
- Understand your contract before you sign it
Is it for a fixed term? Are you jointly liable with other tenants? Can you move out early? Get it checked out by the Students’ Union Advice Centre.
- Get receipts
Have you got a receipt for any money you have paid?
- Make sure the house is safe
Ask for a copy of the gas safety certificate for the gas appliances. Are there smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Does your house need to be licensed (i.e. there are three or more floors and five or more of you moving in)?
- Make sure you’ll get your deposit back
What is it for and is it refundable? Will it be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme? Get an inventory and remember to take photographs of the condition of the property when you move in and when you move out.
- Get the landlord’s contact details
Make sure you know the landlord’s name, address and telephone number.