How to find the right student accommodation at university
If you’re preparing to begin a new chapter of your life at university, let us first congratulate you on getting into higher education. It’s a tremendous achievement and one which should set you up for the rest of your working life.
However, if your biggest fear about moving to university is finding reasonable accommodation near your student campus, try not to panic. We’re here to equip you with all the information you need at-hand to find the right student accommodation for your specific needs.
The team at SPCE have been to university and come out the other side. We understand the pitfalls many students experience with their university accommodation and if you take note of the following points you’ll be well-placed to enjoy university life in your new student pad:
- Try not to leave your accommodation hunt to the last minute!
Whilst we understand that some of you may not have much of choice to find last-minute student accommodation having gone through Clearing, others should be able to browse and select the right student digs months in advance of their start date. Your first port of call should be your university’s accommodation office, who will provide a list of university-owned and approved private accommodation on or near your campus.
- The devil is in the detail with accommodation contracts
Remember that there will be 39-week contracts in the case of most halls of residence, complete with internet connections and other bills included within the contract. While it may be cheaper to go for private student accommodation, these contracts may not include utilities and may last up to 52 weeks – much longer than you need it for.
- Consider up-front costs
In the case of private accommodation, you’ll be required to provide a deposit up-front to the landlord or lettings agent and there will be a further administration charge deducted from the deposit by your landlord or agency. Make sure you a) have the funds to commit to a private let and b) are clear there are no other hidden costs that you will be plagued with further down the line.
- Read the small print
Alwaysread your student accommodation contracts down to the letter and ensure you understand the terms and conditions. Remember that if you’re renting an individual room in a private house, you’ll receive a single tenancy contract and are solely responsible for signing your contract. If you’re living in a shared house with friends you will be required to sign a joint tenancy contract which requires all of you to understand and agree to the terms and conditions stipulated.
- The need to be safety conscious
Whichever type of student accommodation you prefer, be sure to check the building has an updated gas safety certificate. Always keep your personal safety in mind by ensuring the property can be fully secured with locks on all doors and windows. This is an essential requirement in order to obtain insurance for your belongings whilst at university.
- Gain an understanding of ‘fair’ utility charges
From the moment you begin your student accommodation search, it’s a good idea to assess the typical charges of standard utilities to avoid paying more than you ought to. MoneySupermarket.com now provide a Home Bill Checker which can provide you with average utility costs for your chosen postcode area.
- Liaise swiftly with utility suppliers upon your arrival
This is particularly pertinent for those moving into private student property. Make sure you take meter readings on your moving-in day to avoid paying for electricity and gas used by the building’s former tenant. Most respectable landlords will assist with this if it’s completely alien to you.
- Find out how utility bills are paid
If you’re in shared private student accommodation, remember that all tenants are responsible jointly when it comes to paying the utility bills. The names of all tenants should be on the account of the utility providers to avoid any individual being solely responsible for payment. Before moving in, ensure there is an efficient system in place to pay utilities bills periodically amongst the tenants.
- TV Licence for students
At least two-thirds of students are said to use BBC iPlayer and other forms of catch-up television online. The law has recently changed, requiring all students in halls or private accommodation to purchase a TV Licence even if they use these on-demand services. The only scenario you won’t require a TV Licence is if a) you choose not to own a television and b) if you only use your television for gaming purposes – however you’ll still need to write to TV Licensing to inform them of this.
- Council tax exemption
Any property which is occupied exclusively by full-time students can secure full exemption from paying council tax by filling out the self-declaration certificate and submitting it to the relevant local council. If the property is made up of full-time students and non-students, only non-students will be required to pay the bill. If the non-student is the only tenant that’s not in full-time education, they can secure a single person discount of 25%.
Don’t forget, when it comes to sourcing comfortable student accommodation in university areas, SPCE’s new student renting app will connect you to local private landlords in and around your university campus.
Sign up here to be notified when the new SPCE app is available, creating simple student living in a safe and transparent manner with rated and reviewed landlords by like-minded students in your area.