Student housing: What to look out for

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By Tara Ghias, Third Year History

The time is upon us again; the panic of organising groups, the rush of booking viewing slots and the competition to bag the closest house to university so you do not have to walk long. Yes, you guessed it. It's time to find a student house. From early November onwards, thousands of students across Bristol will be searching every corner of the city to find a suitable accommodation for themselves as they progress through the university.

Whereas 2nd or 3rd year students might possess some knowledge of what is required when hunting for a property (having previously done it), freshers might be completely out of there depth here. Especially with coronavirus, the nature of requiring a student house is completely different, with many viewings taking place virtually. This means that students need to be aware of what to look out for and what key questions to ask, when they cannot physically enter the property itself.

Epigram / Georgiana Scott

Your Rights

Many students have no idea of the rights they possess once it comes to student housing, as certain landlords look to exploit their unawareness of what is allowed and what is not. There have many horrible stories of landlords overcharging students, failing to meet standard hygiene requirements and not fixing essentials elements of the house. The citizens advice bureau has a page dedicated to students rights in private rented accommodation, and it would be very useful to give it a read and have knowledge of your entitlement.

Some of these key rights include:

a.     Your landlords responsibility for most major repairs inside of the house, including property’s structure, plumbing issues and electrical faults.

b.     There must be a working smoke alarm, and carbon monoxide detector within the property

c.     Landlords are not allowed to enter the property without clear notice, 24 hours prior to be precise

There have many horrible stories of landlords overcharging students.

Mould, mould, and mould

Student housing is well known for not being in the greatest condition. There has been much outrage over the extortionate prices students are being forced to pay, especially here in Bristol, when the property is sometimes not even fit for human inhabitancy. One key factor to look out for when viewing potential houses is mould; it can normally be found in the corners of rooms and within the wallpaper. Mould is dangerous, and could cause respiratory problems such as infections, allergies and asthma, according to the NHS. Be sure to not sign onto a property with mould, or if you do, instruct your agency to solve the problem.

Epigram / Georgiana Scott

Distance/Location

Distance and location is a very important part of finding student accommodation. The obvious instinct is the find the closest place possible to university, however, sometimes those properties are too expensive or not in the best condition. I would suggest looking for an area, 20/25 minutes away from University, therefore you get a good walk to classes and you are not paying too much. Moreover, bear in mind with location, you need to think about transport and food supplies as well; am I close to a bus stop or a local supermarket? This will be highly beneficial for you in the long run.

Ask questions!

There is nothing wrong with asking as many questions as possible; it shows you are interested in knowing the condition of the property before you move in. The best people to ask would be there current tenants. They would have ample information about residing in the house, and experience of dealing with the agency and landlord. I’m not sure how this will look during coronavirus, but if you get the opportunity to be in contact with the houses’ current tenants, ask them about everything. Have they had any problems with the landlord? Is there any physical damage we should be aware of before signing the lease? Have you had any issues with infestations (I would recommend definitely asking that, you don’t want any pets, such as mice, lurking about)?


Housing Resources for Students:

Citizen's Advice Bureau private renting for students

University of Bristol private rented accomodation

Save the Student - your rights as a tenant

Bristol SU Lettings

Featured Image: Georgiana Scott

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