Negotiating the minefield: The basic dos and don'ts of picking your new student accommodation

The world of estate agents and student flats is a tricky one - but these simple rules should see you right

The Christmas cake is all gone and the bottles for recycling from New Years have finally been collected; it must be January. For those of you that are organised, you may have already started thinking about where you’re going to be living in the next academic year.

If you’ve never looked for somewhere to live without your family before, it may seem a bit of a daunting task, but never fear! Here are 5 simple dos and don’ts for you to keep in mind when you start searching:

Do…

  • View the house before you put down a deposit: This sounds like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do it! Make sure all of your prospective flatmates see the house before you agree on anything; you don’t want arguments a few months down the line.
  • Check for damage: Estate agents and landlords tend not to take us students very seriously. When viewing the house make sure you check for mould and damp, that the windows and doors lock properly, even give the taps a go! There’s no time limit, so take as long as you like.
  • See lots of properties: Unless it’s your dream house, you probably shouldn’t go for the first property you see. Try and see between five and 10 houses in varying locations before you make any decisions.
  • Check for hidden costs: Most estate agents will charge you an agency fee. The amount varies massively, but you should expect to be paying anything up to £200 per person for this. If you go via a private landlord you may be able to avoid this, but most people will charge you a deposit. This is usually a month’s rent per person. Make sure you check these amounts before you sign any contracts. Costs aside from these are unusual so be wary of them.
  • Check out your estate agent/landlord: Before you start house hunting, have a look at the local estate agents online. See what kind of ratings they have and try to avoid any that are less than four stars. Your student union can also provide you with housing advice and most even provide listings of accommodations suitable for you. Don’t be afraid to go in and have a chat with them if you’re unsure about anything.

Don’t…

  • Put up with second best: Don’t let people take you for a ride just because you’re a student. You’re still paying them thousands of pounds a year, so make sure you get what you want. Polite persistence is the key.
  • Forget receipts: Make sure you have receipts of everything you pay, even the agency fees. If you’re worried about anything with your landlord, keep a record of your emails/letters and inventory. These might come in handy when your deposit gets wrongfully taken off you! It’s also a good idea to take photos of the house on the day you move in and save them to your computer. That way you have even more evidence.
  • Leave the bedrooms to the last minute: Most houses don’t have equal sized bedrooms, so make sure you agree with your friends beforehand about who gets which room. If one is much smaller than the others, it’s probably best for that room to have slightly cheaper rent.
  • Forget about location: You may be swayed by a pretty house or a big bedroom, but don’t underestimate location. When you’re staggering home from a club or are late for a lecture, it’s good to know you’re not living miles away.
  • Hurry into things: You shouldn’t just take your time when deciding on the house, but also when deciding who to live with. Don’t feel you have to rush into anything; if you starting thinking about things soon then you’ve got plenty of time to find somewhere great to spend your next year of university.
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there