19 September 2013

The tissue boxes are out across Britain as thousands of children embark on university life, in most cases moving away from the family home and all its comforts and frustrations for the first time.

This may be traumatic for both parents and children, but getting a firm handle on the logistical challenges involved in selecting and moving into a student property can ease the suffering.  


Here are 20 practical tips if you're swapping the cosy family nest for the groves of Academe.

  1. Finding private accommodation: many students find private accommodation cheaper than university halls of residence.  But it is still a good idea to go through the university accommodation website if it has one.  Then you will have support should you have a gripe against the landlord - websites unconnected with the university are unlikely to offer that.
  2. Dealing with landlords: individual private landlords can be more accessible than agencies when there are renting problems. Agencies often charge fees to register; private landlords often don't =.  When you're looking around a place that you're thinking of renting, try and talk to the outgoing tenants and get the low-down on how they have been treated - how quickly did the landlord respond to requests to get things fixed or replaced?  Did they have home and mobile numbers for the landlord?  These are absolutely essential.  It is no good talking to a voicemail on a Friday night when you have a blocked lavatory.
  3. Take time to inspect the house: look at the condition of the place.  This is not a matter of aesthetics - though no one wants to live in a dump - but an indicator of the landlord's attitude: if the house looks unloved so will you be.
  4. Make sure bills are fair - and paid: All inclusive  accommodation may seem to be the easiest option, but they offten works out as the costliest.   Many landlords will estimate bills in thei favour, so students can ofrn end up paying £5 or so extea a week each to coer utilities that they didn't use.  You will have to learn housekeeping at some point, and university is not a bad place to start.  Paying your own bills  may also spur your environmental responsibility, as it is an excellent inducement to turn off the lights when you go out.
  5. Inventories:  insist on an inventory from the landlord before moving in to see what's provided, and to verify the existing condition of the accommodation.  This has benefits for both sides: there are many unscrupulous landlords who will claim that damage has been done by tenants when really it was pre-existing.  Parents should ensure their children are forensic when signing the inventory and take photos of anything dodgy or dirty.  Try the mattress out - if it has springs coming through it, insist that it is changed.  Ensure that any facilities that aren't working, or unsatisfactory conditions such as damp, are signed off by the landlord with a promise to be fixed within two weeks.
  6. Contracts: make sure your parents are guarantors of the contract  they will have the right to negotiate any queries that arise over the tenancy. 
  7. Negotiate the rent in advance: Some landlords will be content to offer a discount in return for a year's money paid upfront - which will also do wonders for the peace of mind of both student and parents.  
  8. Take meter readings the day you move in - you don't want to pay for someone else's use
  9. Tenancy agreements:  Be aware that if you sign a joint tenancy agreement, you might be liable for any default in payment if a housemate drops out.  Get details from all other tenants - and their parents if possible - at the beginning of term, so that you are able t track anyone down should you need to get in touch.
  10. Be nice to your landlord:  A good tenant develops and maintains a good relationship with the landlord.  Pay rent by standing order at the beginning of each term, and if there's a problem give the landlord advance warning - most landlords have a heart.  But don't abuse any goodwill:  turning the house into a tip will upset your landlord, who will be justified in retaining a portion of the deposit.
  11. Draw up a cleaning rota at the beginning of the tenancy to save a lot of arguments.  At the end of the tenancy - after exams - no-one will feel like getting down to the cleaning up.
  12. Travel:  Many universities make students clear their rooms each holiday.  Travelling back and forth can be a real pain.  Check if there are other students who come from your area  try to arrange lift sharing.
  13. Get a car:  Maybe it's time your parents forked out on a car?  Point out the days of travelling saved, the peace of mind from knowing that offspring will not be cowering on night buses etc.  
  14. Don't take too much stuff:  There is never enough room to store everything and you'll end up bringing half of it home - whether or not you have your own car in which to do so. 
  15. Storage:  By the same token, buy storage bags to hand on the back of doors, and boxes to go under the bed - they will be used, and they don't cost much.  
  16. Learn some good basic recipes (see below): Your funds will soon disappear if spent on takeaways and diet of pizza is no defence against the cold viruses doing the university rounds throughout the winter.
  17. The fridge: take plastic boxes labelled with your name to keep food in a shared fridge.  It won't stop people 'borrowing' stuff but it will at least give them pause for thought.
  18. Utensils: While establishing what belongs to whom in the fridge, try to work out who has what cooking utensils.  A household needs only one wok, even if you all have to take turns washing it up.
  19. Take flip-flops to wear in the communal shower - other students are very generous with their verrucae or other food nasties.  
  20. Check your insurance to see if your possessions are covered while you are at uni.  Forking out for a new laptop halfway through term is not a welcome expense.
(from an article in the Saturday Telegraph on 14 September 2013 by Charmian Evans)

thestudentroom.co.uk is a forum run by students for students offering useful tips and information.

No comments:

Post a Comment