Published on November 11, 2013 | by Jenny Long

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Get the down-low on private accommodation

Make sure you do your homework before picking up the keys [Ekaterina Anchevskaya]

Most students in their second or third-year move into private accommodation, in search of an end to endless flat parties and noisy neighbours.

Whatever the reason, you need a roof over your head and house-hunting can become a nightmare.

It isn’t that easy to find a place that you really like with a tight budget. And when you do find a place, there will always be random problems once you’ve signed the tenancy contract. Like mould hidden behind a wardrobe, or windows that don’t shut properly.

There are many things your landlord or estate agent won’t bother to tell you once you’ve signed your tenancy agreement. Instead, they will tell you things you want to hear. Read everything and look everywhere in the house before you sign.

You’re faced with utility bills and monthly rent payments, random phone calls from withheld numbers, probably from the council who are wondering why you haven’t paid your council tax and threatening you with court action.

Jobs are hard to find, you have realised you’ve spent too much of your loan and you’re wondering whether you can pay this month’s rent. So can you really afford to live in London?

Desirable

Students pay an average of £138 per week for a house in London, compared to private halls charging up to £200 a week for a less desirable location.

One way of getting cheaper rent in shared accommodation is to ask really nicely! There is no harm in asking but don’t push your luck. Chances are, someone might be prepared to pay more if it means they can secure the property.

You can also get more for what you’re paying for. Ask your landlord or estate agent for extra furnishings or to fix certain problems before signing the contract. Remember, you’re going to live there for a year, so you should speak up or deal with it.

Use online websites to find a property, such as NeedAProperty.com. This website has a ‘Time Travel’ search, so you can see how long it’ll take to get from home to university.

Checks

Thomas Hill from Foxtons Student Services said: “Have a look on sites like Gumtree or SpareRoom.com, those tend to be the cheapest places.

“Our cheapest rent prices start from around £150-£200 per week.”

Don’t forget to check to see whether bills are included. If they aren’t, look around to find the cheapest companies using websites like moneysavingexpert.com. If bills are included, then congratulations! You got lucky.

And to avoid a phone call from the council who have mysteriously got your number, get a student exemption letter from the university. Everything you need to do will be on the council website.

Most cheap houses get snapped up by students, so start looking early next year into the areas you want to live in, and how much rent you can actually afford.

 

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