Student Accommodation Guide
Welcome to StudentMoney.co.uk’s accommodation guide. On this page, we’ll list a number of useful articles and guides for freshers moving into halls or residents in addition for how to make the move to private residence in your first year.
- How Much Should you Pay?
- Halls of Residence vs. Private Housing in 1st Year
- Choosing Uni Accommodation
- Preparing for University and Moving in
- Buy Student Contents Insurance!
Best Estate Agents Online for Students
There are a number of factors that will influence how you choose where you live as a student, however once you move out of university accommodation, there is one element which you cannot avoid, estate agents. Dealing with estate agents can be a harrowing business. Due to the high demand in property in student towns, many students are at the mercy of unscrupulous estate agents who are willing to pass off any old property as fast as they can, without a care for your comfort or your surroundings. For many of them students can be easily exploited due to their lack of experience and their fear of being left out in the cold after not finding a place to move into fast enough.
In order to not be left in the lurch and allow estate agents to walk all over you, you’ll first need to organize who you want to live with. The sooner you decide who you want to live with the better, as that way you won’t be left hanging around trying to find housemates, when all the properties are flying of the shelves like hot cakes. Our advice is to have found housemates you get along with at the latest by the third term of Uni or you might finder it harder to arrange decent accommodation.
In order to choose the right estate agent for you make sure you shop around and visit a number of estate agents to assess what properties they have available and how the staff treat you. Nothing is more valuable than first-hand experience. It’s all very good to investigate and search for properties online but it helps to pop into the actual estate agents shops to ask for specific information such as the demand and the average rental price of properties.
One of the biggest problems amongst estate agents is that most of them are working on commission, which makes them eager to pass off any old crap as a great student home to live in. Don’t be deceived by glossy pictures and a hard sell, go and see properties for yourself and see how they compare to how the agent has described them.
Remember that most letting agents charge a reference fee between £20 and £100. Do you best to negotiate with the agent for less. Also agents should never charge for showing you properties if they try, you know something shady is up.
It’s best to go for either very local estate agents or big chains, the reason for this is that local estate agents tend to have a much more friendly, personal approach, on top of that they’ll have the local knowledge and be able to advise on the quality of areas. Big chains are also worth checking out because they will have listings of most of the student rental properties available, which will help you out in the long run. The only problem with this is that you can feel like just a number with thousands of students using them. Move fast and get in their early to get the best properties available.
There are different estate agents in every student town however the one thing that you can rely on is the Internet. In order to help you find exactly the property you’re looking for, we’ve come up with the top websites which should cover all student properties available in your city.
Zoopla is one of the largest property websites online and will provide you with a vast, comprehensive list of most of the student rental accommodation available in your area. What makes Zoopla good is that they also give you an idea of the average rental price for property in a particular area, so you can make sure you’re not getting ripped off. You can also check the average houses in each street, so you can even check how affluent the area you are thinking of moving into is.
Alongside the price of properties, you can also check general statistics regarding the area you are thinking of moving into. These can range from information on local crime rates to distance to the local tube and bus stops to info about the amount of parks in the area and other general information. This can really help when it comes to giving you a good idea of what the area you want to move into is like.
Gumtree and Craigslist are undoubtedly some of your best bets when it comes to finding a student house to move into. The fact that you can rent directly through the landlord, means you can cut out the agent and not have to deal with all their smooth talking, manipulation techniques. As a rule you should always make sure you have a written contract which is signed by both landlord and tenants, confirming that you are living there and that they can’t just throw you out. It also pays off big time to insist on an Inventory, so you can document all the items inside the house in case of breakages and damage. The last thing you want is a corrupt landlord trying to fleece you for something that was broken before you moved in. Also get the landlord to provide full certificates regarding that the Gas and Electricity is up to standard and can provide the necessary documentation to prove that they have been checked recently.
Prime Location is another huge online resource which provides listings of pretty much all the estate agents renting properties across the whole UK. You can obviously specify where and how much you want to spend in order to narrow down the parameters and help find the perfect student house for you and your friends. Form their website you’ll be able to see images of the property and call or email the estate agent who’s letting the property.
Another handy feature that you can sign up to is by submitting your email alongside a description of the accommodation you’re looking for, to all the local estate agents in your area. This means that you can just sit back and wait to be bombarded by estate agents. Be careful of offering your mobile number, unless you are prepared to receive endless phone calls from estate agents for the rest of your life! (I went to Uni 5 years ago and they’re still calling me!)