Siobhan from the Advice and Money Team, shares some housing hacks that all students should know this Student Money Week…
You’ve completed your first-term and there’s a whole host of people you’ve yet to even meet. Some will be acing the independent living, though maybe you still haven’t quite figured out how to use the oven without giving your meals a healthy drizzle of carbon.
You feel like you know your flat mates better, though you’re yet to discover which one is the secret milk thief. Whilst all this is going on, the letting agents of Cardiff are already gearing up to take your summer retainers for houses for next year.
It’s easy to buy into the idea that you need to act immediately to get a house, especially with all the panic-inducing advertisements and myths flying about that you should sign a housing contract as soon as possible.
You do not need to sign anything yet, and before you even consider it, make sure you’re armed with the facts!
Here’s where the Advice & Money Team can help you; here are some housing hacks…
Don’t rush into anything
- Fist of all ask yourself: Can I really afford it? Although Cardiff is one of the cheapest cities in the UK to rent a property, you should complete a budget so you know what you can and can’t afford.
- You have only been here for one term –do you really know anyone well enough to think about signing a legally binding contract with them?
- Would you commit to a long-term relationship this quickly?
- All it takes is a quick squiggle on a piece of paper to sign up to a house, but it can take a lot longer to try to rectify the situation if you decide weeks later that you made the wrong decision.
- The number of student houses in Cardiff outweighs demand so there is no rush to sign up. Save yourself roughly £300 or more by not paying rent over the summer.
Ask yourself what you want and need in terms of:
- The location of the property
- The people you want to live with
- What furniture and equipment is provided
- How much is it going to cost you and can you afford it? (Remember additional costs like a deposit, agency fees, bills and summer rent when you consider what you can afford)
Look out for any hints of problems on a house viewing
- Damp/mould – can you see it? Can you smell it?
- Is the house secure – locks on doors and windows?
- Does it have a gas and electricity certificate?
- Is there a shower, washing machine, cooker, fridge freezer – do they work? Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it works. Are there enough facilities for the number of people living in the house?
- What do the current tenants say about the landlord / agency?
Read the small print carefully
When you first start your house hunting expedition (it can take a while) you will be hearing terms that you may never have heard before, or if you have heard them you aren’t quite sure what they mean and the implications they hold. Terms like:
- Legally Binding
- Joint tenancy
- Small print
- Houses in multiple occupations (HMO)
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
- Agency fee
- Summer retainers
- Check out fee
You can find lots of these explained in our housing jargon busters.
The best thing to do is to read the contract carefully yourself, and then ask the Student Advice team at the Students’ Union to read through it for you before you sign. They will be able to spot anything that may cause you problems. This is a free service, so make use of it!
Watch our ‘House Hunting’ video
The University’s Advice and Money team can help you with any housing or money issues.
Your feedback and help please
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Siobhan, Advice & Money Team.
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