You’ve made an appointment and you’re ready to look around the student accommodation you've found. Here’s what to do.
- Take a camera and make notes, so you remember the visit and can show housemates that couldn’t make the viewing.
- It’s your money (or your parents’) so don’t be shy about asking difficult questions, or worry about being nosy.
- If you are pressured, think about why they are in such a rush? Take your time before you make a decision.
- Don’t forget to take our viewing checklist with you.
What to look for
Checking the property is in good condition and safe will save you being kept awake by dripping sounds and constantly phoning your landlord for repairs:
- Check the roof. Broken or missing tiles may mean a leaking room.
- Check that windows and doors fit properly and are not rotten.
- Check walls for any damp or dis-coloured patches, which is usually caused by broken gutters or a toilet cistern overflow.
- Is there adequate space for bins?
- How big is the garden? Is it a jungle?
- Are the beds and furniture in a good condition?
- Landlords should have thought to provide a desk and chair for you to work.
- How is the property heated, is the boiler efficient and in good condition?
- Do the showers work, and do they produce more than a trickle? Are the toilets and plumbing in good working order?
- Do all the appliances work correctly? (e.g. Fridge, Cooker)
- Are there any signs of mould, damp or vermin? Does the property smell?
- Are the bedrooms well ventilated?
- Are there enough working fire alarms? Will the alarm go off every time you burn toast?
- Are plug sockets cracked or damaged?
- Are there enough sockets in each room so you don’t have to overload electrical points?
- Is the furniture fire resistant?
- Does the kitchen have a fire blanket and fire extinguisher?
- Do the doors have decent 5 lever mortice locks and are there locks on windows – all these things make getting insurance cheaper.
- Are there adequate sets of keys?
What to consider when looking around
Use the opportunity to look around and make sure the accommodation will fit what you and your housemates need.
- Bedrooms usually come in the same state of repair, but you may need to consider how to deal with smaller ones or those in poorer condition. If you can’t all agree on your ideal room we recommend placing names in a hat to see who gets what, recognising bigger and better rooms are subject to a higher share of the rent. Just make sure you can pay the higher amount if you strike lucky!
- Is the communal area big enough to fit you all in, do the bedrooms have enough storage?
- Are there enough toilets and showers for all of you to avoid queuing?
- Is there enough parking, and if not how easy is it to get permits?
- Is there a washing machine? If not, how much and where is the nearest launderette?
- Is the kitchen big enough for all your appliances and the number of people in the house?
- Heating bills – it’s all well and good switching the heating off to save money for drinking, but you’ll stay a lot warmer if the property is double glazed, insulated properly and has a decent boiler that works effectively.
- What will the accommodation be like at night – do rooms let enough light in towards evening, does the area feel safe at night (take a trip back at night if you like a particular property) ?
- Is the property detached? If you and your housemates like it noisy then it’s a great advantage for keeping the neighbours happy, especially if they like to keep things quiet.
What to ask
There are a few key questions that can give you a good sense of how good the accommodation is and what responsibilities you might expect to see in the contract:
What to ask your landlord or letting agent
- A copy of the current gas safety certificate should be available for you to see?
- Has the electrical wiring been checked in the past five years?
- Who pays for blocked drains, leaky roofs and blocked guttering? -ALWAYS THE LANDLORDS RESPONSIBILITY
- Who is responsible for maintenance of gardens and fencing? That jungle you just looked at might need lots of work and a lawn mower.
- If parking permits are needed, how many is the household entitled to?
What to ask Tenants
- Your best source of information could be the current tenants. Be nice, work your charm and get their number - you can call them without the agent or landlord present to find out if they are happy with the property, how much it costs to run and if there’s anything you should know.
- Ask them what the neighbours are like and if they get on with them.
And don’t forget, take our viewing checklist with you.