As with any property, location is everything. But the number of properties to rent can vary greatly by area. You might find that there are houses for as many as ten people in university towns, or you might find an area by the train line has smaller flats ideal for commuting professionals.
In any case, where you live depends on what type of property you are looking for and ultimately who you’re prepared to share with.
Prepare your references
So, first things first. Line up some references. Landlords will be looking into your background to make sure that you are reliable, can pay the rent on time and look after their property. If you’re a student without an employment history then you’ll be asked for a guarantor instead. This is usually your parents or guardian who will have to cough up the cash if you fail to pay for rent or damages.
Contact an agency
Unis will often provide a list of recommended landlords for freshers but you can sign up to a letting agency just as easily yourself. Using an agency or property management firm, whether a student or not, is recommended since they are often regulated. They can also put pressure on your landlord if needed, such as when essential repairs have not been completed.
Plan your viewings
During your viewings, it can be easy to forget key questions, especially if you have several viewings lined up one after the other. Make a note of the address and essential information for each property which you can refer back to later. Issues to ask about could include responsibilities for maintaining the property, potential nuisances or past experiences to be aware of, planned repairs, fire and safety precautions in the property, financial considerations, etc.
When you’re moving into a house share with existing tenants, ask whether you can meet them during the viewing. If not, or if you really like the property, it could be helpful to suggest meeting for a drink to see whether you will get on. Remember, they’ll be questioning you as much as you’ll be questioning them!
Agree the lease
When you’ve found a property, you’ll want to move quickly to take it off the market, and you might have to pay a holding fee. Then you’ll have to complete the necessary paperwork, including your references, deposit protection scheme and contract, to be able to move as soon as possible.
When your paperwork has been verified and approved, it’s time to pay your deposit. This will likely be a month or a month and a half’s rent. Make sure it’s held in a legitimate scheme, not simply handed to your landlord. Your landlord or letting agency will use your deposit to cover the cost of any damage throughout the tenancy, so you might not get the full amount back. Obviously the onus is on you to take care of the building and any contents to make sure you get the money back!
Now that the documents have all been signed and the deposit is in place and the standing order set up for rent, it’s time to move in. If you’re moving into a furnished property then you’re already half way to being settled in. If however you are bringing all of your own furniture and other contents then it could take you a little while to get everything into place... Rope in some friends, or better yet, get your new housemates to help you! And don’t forget to insure your contents at the new address.