Renting for the first – or even the second, third or fourth – time as a student can be a daunting task. With a little renting savvy and some all-important research, however, it’s a process that becomes second nature. Here’s an inside look at hidden costs and things to anticipate when renting a student property.
- Price vs location
It’s easy to go for the cheapest housing option, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t sacrifice proximity to uni. Balance the two so that you don’t end up spending the money you would have saved on a bus fare. Before signing anything, map out a clear way for you to get to and from campus, as well as your local supermarket. It’s also a good idea to plan the quickest way into town for those all-important student essentials.
- Insurance for your valuables
Insurance might sound like something reserved for proper adults, but you’d be surprised at how many bits are worth insuring in your standard student house. Computers, bicycles or games consoles can all be covered under students’ insurance. Nobody wants to have their things stolen, but having insurance can mean the difference between you kissing your valuables goodbye and being able to replace them if needed.
- Energy efficiency ratings
Before renting a property, you’ll want to see the Energy Performance Certificate to determine how efficiently it uses energy. It’s a simple step to help give you an idea of how much energy you’ll use and how much you can expect to pay on utility bills. Once you have an idea, you can look into reducing those costs by installing a smart meter and ensuring that you only pay for what you’ve used.
- The reputation of your landlord or letting agent
When hunting for the perfect property it can feel like you’re the one getting interviewed. This time is actually a great opportunity to do a little interviewing yourself. Ask about previous tenants and why they left, as well as doing a little digging by reading up your letting agency online. Ask friends and classmates that have rented from them before about their response times and efficiency to give you a rough idea of what you can expect from them.
- Knowing where exactly your deposit is stored
Legally your landlord must store your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. This ensures that, if you’re entitled to it, you’ll get your deposit back when you leave the property. You can check one of these schemes to make sure your deposit is properly stored, though your landlord must inform you on how it’s protected. Before providing your deposit, you should read up on your tenant deposit rights to make sure everything is by the book.
- Referencing fees and guarantors
If you’ve never rented a property before, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to provide a guarantor. This person will be held accountable for your rent if you don’t pay it on time. Typically your parents or a relative are a good shout. You’ll also be asked to provide references of some sort, so you should make sure you’ve got all your documentary ducks in a row.
- The small print of your tenancy agreement
As with any legal document, always read the small print before signing. Important things to know are clauses about breaking your lease, subletting or even the way in which your landlord must inform you if they’re planning to visit the property. The more knowledgeable you can be about your lease, the better.
And finally, just breathe! The next step is the best one – picking out decorations.