Whether it’s your first house or your third, it’s important you find the right one for you (with the right people).
House hunting can be fun, but also stressful- you often feel you’re racing against other groups of students to get the best house for the lowest price. Not only that, but signing for a house is a significant financial commitment. To help, I’ve created a checklist of do’s and don’ts to help you with the process!
It’s never worth the rush
It’s the classic situation- it’s November of your first year, you’ve met a great group of people and suddenly you find yourself searching for a house that can squeeze in 10 of you. You don’t want to miss the boat and end up with no other housing options, but also you have only been in Cardiff for a matter of months and understandably it feels very soon to be making decisions for next summer.
I would always advice to wait! Rushing into a house with people you haven’t known for long, in an area you don’t properly know is a recipe for potential disaster! There are hundreds of properties available to students around the university campus, and even if you wait until May, you will still find something!
Don’t let the time pressure get to you, and remember that landlords and estate agents want you to sign ASAP. Don’t commit to a contract unless you are 100% sure, otherwise you’ll be paying rent for a whole year in somewhere you aren’t happy.
Move in day! Once you’ve assigned rooms (always decide rooms fairly and before you move in) make sure you take photographs before any of your things have been moved in. This could include the walls, desk, floor, any other furniture- in every room of the house. These photos can be used to show the state of the house when you first moved in, and so you can’t be charged for damage that you didn’t cause. So, if you can prove that the damage was there beforehand you will save money being taken off from your deposit!
Bills are always stressful to work out, so it’s worth your while to put in the time to find the best deal. I also recommend sharing this job amongst your other housemates so all of you are on the same page and have all contributed.
Virgin Media always have good student Wi-Fi deals and will often give cash hand-outs if you refer a friend. There are certain companies to avoid and have a notoriously bad reputation for overcharging students so be careful to do your research. Check out https://rateyourlandlordcardiff.com/ for advice from past and current students of which Cardiff-based estate agents, landlord and bill companies are good or worth avoiding.
Everyday money struggles
Depending on the size of your house, it is often worth opening a new, shared bank account where all tenants can pay in their rent, bills and any other expenses monthly. Then, from this, regular payments can be made to the estate agent and bill companies in one simple transaction.
From this account, houses can then also buy shared house provisions, such as toilet roll, milk, any cleaning products etc. Although this makes life a little easier, be sure that all housemates agree to the purchases that are being made!
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