If your curious how to find student accommodation, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide we’ll show you everything you need to think about beforehand, and all the steps you need to take to secure a nice, student home for you and your student housemate.
So you’ve decided to spend your next year at uni in a private student house or flat. Likelihood is you’re a first year student moving into second year looking to rent your first ever house. That’s a daunting task, but you’ve come to the right place. If this isn’t you, no worries, this guide will suit anyone looking to find student accommodation, who wants to make sure they have all bases covered before looking to rent a student home.
It can be difficult to know what you need if you’ve never had to do this before. It’s harder still to find student accommodation that meets those needs. You’ve then got to arrange viewings, make sure you’re on board with the landlord and estate agent situation, before negotiating rent and finally getting your signature on that prized tenancy agreement. We will cover all this and more right here, so hold on tight.
Before You Start Searching
When’s The Best Time To Start Searching For Student Housing?
The shortest answer is: the earlier the better. Ideally you know who you’re living with before Christmas, so you can get on the ball with booking viewings in January the following term and bag a student house not long after. This way you don’t miss out on the good houses, and don’t have to rush.
However, there are different trends in different parts of the UK. The above applies less if you’re in Northern Ireland or London. In this case, you should at least start viewings before March.
In Wales, South West England and the East Midlands, you should be well on your way by January, as students start looking much earlier.
If you’re preparing for uni, whether you’re going into halls or your first new house, check out our Preparing For University Checklist.
Finding Student Housemates
This is a tricky situation, whether you have loads of options or not enough. Though you’re basically an adult now, asking a mate if they want to live with you next year can make you feel like a 14 year-old again, asking your first girlfriend out. You don’t know if they’ve got plans already, or if they might outright reject you. If this happens to you, don’t worry, I still want to be your friend. If you’re the guy who has to reject that person they don’t want to live with, be nice about it, and don’t mess them around.
Either way, be brave, be vulnerable, and you’ll eventually find your way. Make sure you put yourself out there as soon as possible so you’re not left behind. It’s likely that someone from your halls, societies, course or even friends of friends will be looking for another person for their group. Living with your first year sweetheart is perhaps not so wise – but that’s just a mistake you have to make for yourself.
If you’re struggling to get a group together, have a look at the listings here to see if anyone is letting out a spare room in their student home. Living with strangers is no big deal – you may well make some good new friends and besides, you’ll be pretty busy with coursework anyway.
Once you’ve got your group together, create a WhatsApp group chat so you can communicate throughout the whole process, share links, and post pictures from the viewings. My friends still use the original group we put together six years ago.
Consider Everyone’s Preferences
Here’s a handy list of all the considerations you’ll want to agree upon together.
- Location. Do you want student accommodation close to campus? Close to town? Are there cycling routes? Bus stops close by? Do you value being in a safe area or are you looking to get into regular fights (only kidding)? Check out this interactive crime map to see how safe your future street is.
- Parking. Do any of your group have a car and do they need a space? How easy to obtain is a permit on the street if there’s no space?
- Entertainment. If you’re moving into student housing in a student-y area, then it’s likely to be just fine on this consideration. If not, check out the area to see if it’s a fun place to be in terms of pubs, bars, cinemas and the like.
- Amenities. A Sainsbury’s Local and a kebab shop might be good enough for you, but perhaps the more sensible ones in your group want a bigger supermarket nearby – or a cheaper one, a good Lidl can be a life saver, just avoid the potato salad.
Student Landlords Or Student Agents?
Landlords own the property, agents just look after them, acting as middlemen. Going directly to landlords can reduce the rent price, as agents take commission from the rent, driving up the cost for you.
Using an agent, on the other hand, is generally a safer bet. Check the agency’s website to see if they are listed as members of a government-approved scheme to deal with complaints – they should belong to an ombudsman service.
Make sure to use a website aimed at students that pull lettings into one place, so you get a fuller choice which encourages competitive pricing. We here at DiggzHunter do this and understand students’ needs more than a general property site.
How to arrange a viewing
Once you’ve found a few listings you like the look of on the site, you can inquire about them, ask any questions you might have, and eventually arrange a viewing. You will need to register an account to inquire, which you can do here.
If there are quite a few of you looking to live together, booking a viewing might be hard to fit everyone’s timetables. If only one or two of you can attend a viewing make sure you ask questions on behalf of the others.
Take plenty of photos and videos and make notes and send them all to your group chat. If you’re super keen you can make a spreadsheet to help you decide between them.
Here’s a handy checklist of everything you need to keep an eye out for when looking around your potential new diggz. Make sure to always check ceilings for signs of damp and mould, see if there’s sufficient plug sockets, and if whitegoods and appliances are included.
Sealing the Deal and Moving in
The advertised rent price isn’t necessarily a take-it-or-leave-it type offer. If you can present a good case for a lower price, you might as well try and haggle yourself a better deal. Just don’t take it beyond reasonable limits; low-balling people is a waste of everyone’s time.
Be clear on the additional fees you may have to pay. Security deposits, holding fees and agency fees can take people by surprise, so best find out precise figures upfront.
It might be a good idea to go for places where the landlord includes the bills. You can learn more about this option and other ways to cut energy bill costs in our guide to cheap student bills.
Knowing how to save money on bills in advance, you can increase your rent budget and secure yourself a nicer home.
Signing the tenancy agreement
If you don’t even read your seminar prep materials, you’re even less likely to read your tenancy agreement. You didn’t sign up for a law degree, I know, but this would be a big mistake. It’s important for you and your housemates to take the time to see that everything is as agreed upon, and no sneaky clauses are hiding in the small print. For instance, you don’t want to find out in June that you have to pay rent for your house through the summer even though you’re back at home.
It’s also best to get one of your parents, especially if they have a professional background, to take a look at the contract before you put pen to paper. The more experienced eyes are on it, the better. You may also need a parent or guardian to sign an agreement as a guarantor. This is someone who legally agrees to pay your rent if, for whatever reason, you can’t afford to do so.
Once finalised, get a moving-in date that suits you and your new housemates. Try not to have too much of a fight over who gets the best rooms. It’s not unusual to ask if some people are willing to pay a higher share of the rent for a nicer room, which makes things a little fairer. Alternatively, you can have a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament or pull names out of a hat.
Make sure to take pictures of any pre-existing damage it doesn’t get pinned on you when your contract’s up. It can be hard enough trying to get back a security deposit without this.
Once you’ve moved in and got settled you can start enjoying your new pad. Oh wait – you don’t have any WiFi and the boiler’s not coming on. Don’t worry though, get yourself a cuppa and a digestive and take a peek at our Ultimate Guide To Student Bills.
Find Student Accommodation & Advertise For Free
If you’re ready to start looking, search through our wide range of student accommodation and find great student diggz in your town or city. Alternatively, if you have a place you’re looking to rent out, place a free advert and get your student property filled quickly. Both landlords and students can place free adverts!