We’ve all heard the horror stories of student housing; mould-ridden ceilings, pest infestations, satanic housemates and nosy neighbours, and now you’re out looking for a house to call your own come September. Watch out though, because housing is a trap you’re unlikely to get away from until your contract runs out.
Students have it incredibly rough when it comes to housing. They are classed as high-risk, so pricing is sky-high and conditions are appalling. Usually there places are the first house you’ve ever lived in without your parents/guardians, so you have no cue what to expect and no idea what you need to look out for. That’s where Uni Survival Guide comes in.
When you’re looking for your house, don’t settle for adequate, because it can actually be a big risk to your health and happiness. Have a good look on the walls and ceilings for damp patches. Hell, look behind the wardrobes too, because I had a friend who found a massive damp patch behind hers, causing her to be ill most of the year she lived there. Look along the bottoms of walls, around fridges and bin areas for evidence of pests, too. No-one wants a rat creeping up on them in the kitchen. Check for draughts under your doors and windows. Not only will that save you money on heating and keep your house warmer, but if the gap is too big, it could be letting all sorts of insects and pests into your home. My uni house used to have a giant gap under the door, and most mornings I would wake up to a lovely new slug trail on the carpet. Nice.
Next, you should ensure that your prospective house is safe in case of a fire. The doors, by law, should be fire-proofed, but have you thought about your escape? Are the doors and windows easily opened? Also, try to steer clear of gas cookers; you may be the next Mary Berry or Michel Roux, but your new housemates may not be. If you get the chance, grab one of the students that are living in the house while you view it and have a private chat with them about living conditions there. They will be able to tell you how effective the landlord is at fixing issues as well as how well the fan in the bathroom works or the thickness of the walls.
A fair few students I have talked to have been robbed of their deposits, so make a note of everything wrong with the property to begin with, even taking dated photos if you’re really worried about something. If you keep records, you’ll have a leg to stand on if you need it later. Also, ensure that you know who is holding your deposit. You are better off with a company holding your deposit than your landlord, as a company should be able to process the request faster than a single person, and they shouldn’t be able to forget. Yes, I went through the problem of a ‘forgetful’ landlord too.
Your landlord/lady is your first port of call, so make sure you can contact them at any time. Get their numbers and their emails and if they ignore you, keep trying! Students’ landlords are notorious for this, so don’t let them keep you out of the loop. If something needs fixing, pester them every day until it is done. This is your safety and your welfare, and though you are a student and many people ma look down on you, thinking all you do is laze about all day and drink all night, you have the same rights as everyone else.