Don't start your house hunt before reading this quick-fire list.
1. Have a wish list in advance
Go into house hunting and viewings with a list of essentials and negotiables for your perfect home. Know what is necessary and know the things you're willing to compromise on. TIP: If you are in halls your internet is normally already sorted. In the private rented sector some houses have this, some do not. Internet is relatively easy to install so don’t let this put you off a property if it isn’t there already. Please note, that most internet contracts last for 12 months, so you may have to pay for a whole year and not just an academic year.
2. Set a budget, stick to it, negotiate
Another important thing to think about is budget and considering how much everyone is willing to pay. Make sure everyone knows what each other's expectations are and how much everyone can afford. You don't want to get into a situation where you've found your perfect student house and one person knows that realistically, they can't afford it, so it's vital that everyone is vocal and honest about their budget. Don't fall into the trap of finding a luxury student house which has everything you could possibly need but is way out of your budget. Remember, your student loan has to pay for bills, rent, household supplies and everything else. TIP – Don’t forget to factor in bills if your property isn’t all inclusive and bear in mind that your maintenance loan may not cover your entire rent.
3. Use the Advice Centre's free Contract Checking service
Don’t allow a landlord to rush you into signing a contract by making you think there’s a huge shortage of housing. Similarly, tenancy contracts can be lengthy and daunting, so never sign anything you don’t understand. The SU’s Student Advice Centre offers a free contract checking service, where full trained and qualified Advisors will look over your tenancy contract and let you know if anything seems out of place.
4. Spend time considering who you want to live with
Think about this carefully as you will end up living together for a whole year. Socialising with someone is a completely different experience to living with someone. If there are things that are irritating now a year can be an extremely long time. People have different ideas of cleanliness and lead different lifestyles, some people are studious and have early nights, others like to go clubbing and stay out until all hours.
5. Decide on the accommodation, location and your needs
Once you've decided who you'd like to live with, get your future housemates together and discuss your accommodation preferences. Would you prefer a house or a flat? Do you want to live nearer to City Campus or Collegiate Campus? Do you all want bigger bedrooms? It's important that you all discuss what you want so that you know what you're all looking for. Also, consider the area in which you'd like to live, as there are lots of places in Sheffield that are ideal for students. Depending on your studies and lifestyle, you might want to consider different options. Explore options outside of your comfort zone and consider prices and value for money.
6. Explore areas of Sheffield before deciding where to live
Walk around different areas at different times of day and make sure you like the atmosphere and feel safe. Think about if you want to live in Sheffield centre next to bars and clubs or would you prefer a quieter area, etc. You might also want to consider how far away it is from Uni, as you may have transport costs on top of your bills. The most common student areas of Sheffield include Bramall Lane, Crookes Ecclesall Road, Norfolk Park, Kelham, Sharrow Vale, City Centre. As rule of thumb, the closer to the city centre you live, the more expensive the accommodation.
7. Never sign for a property without viewing it in person
When house hunting, don't just rely on your friends' opinions or take one look at photos online to make your decision. Arrange house viewings when everyone can attend, and if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Always view the accommodation first and ask the landlord lots of questions when you're there to find out as much information as you can. Explore different areas in Sheffield and have a wander around the city to get a feel for each place. It's so important that your accommodation is right for you and your fellow housemates, has everything you need and is within budget, so don't make any sudden decisions until you've all seen the property.
8. Remember Snug
Snug is a property inspection standard which is awarded to properties which meet the required standard of property and tenancy management, and the landlord is considered trustworthy and 'proper'. Managed by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Hallam Students' Union, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Students' Union, the Snug scheme was established to ensure that Sheffield students are living in accommodation which is safe, reliable and managed properly. Only properties that have been assessed by the Council as being 'Snug' are advertised by the University, so make sure that any properties you look at are Snug.
9. Take pictures and note down any existing damage
When you first move into your new home, be sure to do a walk around with the landlord or estate agent and note down any damage or disrepair in the property. Note down any issues on the inventory and ask the landlord or estate agent to sign off any issues you write down. Wherever you can, take photos to document the things you’re noting down.
10. Use your common sense.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Take time to sign for your next house.
Student Stories: My Housing Horror
Other Housing content.
Written by Ryan Coleflax