// Flat Hunting Techniques for Students
by Linjie, 19th May 2015
As the last term of university slowly comes to its end, the finishing of exam season also means the beginning of the preparations for the next academic year. As most students already know whether they are doing a year abroad or would opt for new flatmates, the stress of finding new accommodation begins. Thankfully, with the application of these few rules, you can ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.
1) Do your research!
It sounds quite obvious but still doing your research while making sure that the search is not rushed is possibly one of the most important rules. Look out for when your academic institution and student unions start advertising the start of house-hunting and start looking for flats then. Many student bodies offer help with the search if you are unsure about which agent to trust or if there are specific requirements for international students. Researching and viewing as many flats as possible is probably the best way to make the right decision. Sites such as PrimeLocation, Find a Property and Rightmove search estate agent listings and offer lots of pictures. When viewing a flat, try to speak to the current residents. They will be able to tell you things about the flat and the agent that you would otherwise not learn.
2) Be cautious!
Finding a flat can be a risky business and also a very expensive one if you do not watch out for potential dangers. Be very suspicious when looking for flat on sites like Gumtree. There are many great deals out there but also a lot of scams and fraud. The same thing can be said about private agents, make sure you choose one that you can know you can trust. When viewing a flat
Remember to ask to see the Gas Safety Certificate and find out whether the property will be fitted with a smoke alarm and Carbon Monoxide detector. Similarly, check that the plumbing, gas, and electricity are working properly to save yourself from extra expenses. As you are coming close to choosing the flat, be very cautious if you experience any pressure to sign a contract immediately. Always make sure that you had time to consider your decision, read your contract thoroughly and ask for a second opinion. Before signing the contract ask your new landlord whether they will be protecting your deposit. It is against the law to take a deposit and fail to place it within a government scheme. You should receive evidence that this has been done and you should remind your landlord of your rights in case of neglect.
3) Know your budget!
Before signing the contract, make sure you know exactly how much everything is going to cost and whether you can afford it. When thinking about your budget, it is not only the rent level you need to consider. Make sure to request a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate to get to know the energy efficiency of the property. The higher rated the flat is, the cheaper is the heating going to be. If you are renting from a letting agent in the UK – besides Scotland – you are likely to be charged extra fees so make sure you know what these are. Before making the final decision, put together a budget including the different rent levels to see how much money you will have left for additional expenses such as food and course requirements. For example, The Student Calculator website can help you to calculate your budget each month.
Finding the perfect flat can be extremely stressful and tricky but paying attention to these factors helps you to make the process more enjoyable. Happy hunting!