What does bad student housing look like?

Oscar Djama on 20 July 2020
An empty apartment

This two-part series from our friends at Student-It highlights the things you should be keeping an eye out for when picking that first student house. Make sure you don’t get caught out!

One of the great things about being a student is getting your own place and moving in with your mates. But when it’s your first time renting a place, it’s easy to get caught out by a bad landlord or dodgy agency. For most students, that first uni house will also be your first time renting, so our friends at Student-It have come up with some advice to make sure you guys don’t get caught out.

First thing first, let’s look at what constitutes a bad student house:

Bad management

If possible, check your landlord and agency reviews well in advance to see what other tenants have to say about them. If people say they’re hard to contact or slow to sort out repairs then that’s an instant red flag.

A lot of student landlords are well aware that their tenants may be renting for the first time and, unfortunately, many will take advantage of any perceived naivety to see if they can get away with complacency. If you end up in a place where you feel like your landlord or agency is cutting corners at the expense of your well-being, then get in touch with your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau to see what can be done.

Hasty purchases

Make sure you shop around before settling on your first uni house. Often, you’ll be viewing a place with other groups of students, which can make people feel pressured into securing a house before they all end up off the market.

Well, you can relax a bit, as there’s very little chance that all the accommodation will be gone by the time you’ve applied. New listings are popping up all the time and you can end up with some real hidden gems if you hold out long enough.

Take your time, check all the listings and bring everyone you’ll be living with to the viewing. As well as giving everyone a chance to see the new place, and their prospective new rooms, it means nobody has an excuse to complain once you’re in.

Extortionate rents

This ties into the point above about hasty purchases. If you’re renting for the first time in your area, make sure to thoroughly research market prices first. Remember that the uni halls you might have stayed in for first-year do not necessarily accurately reflect local rent prices.

If you have friends in houses already, then ask them what they’re paying. Use this information to apply price filters to any website you’re using to find a place and sift out the pricier options.

A good place for comparing rents is Student-It, the student specialist property comparison website.

Shoddy fixtures and amenities

When viewing a new student house, look out for the important stuff. As well as keeping your eyes peeled for mould, dust and grime, look at how new other fixtures are, such as the oven, shower and lighting. If possible, ask the current tenants if there’s anything that they think you should watch out for. It’s much better to notice these things before you sign a contract, as some landlords may not be so proactive once all is said and done (see point one).

Fees and other hidden costs

While the government issued tighter regulations back in 2019, there are still a lot of pitfalls to watch out for. Read your contract thoroughly before signing to make sure that you won’t get caught out further down the line. While last year’s legislation means that agencies can no longer charge you hundreds of pounds worth of “admin fees”, they can still catch you out with extortionate replacement costs for keys and other household objects.

Once you’ve read your contract, get your parents or someone you trust to check over it before you sign.

Student-It is a great tool for researching your ideal student home. Make sure to check their listings in your town before committing to any big decisions.

Have you got any interesting stories from your time in a student house? Join our panel today and let us know.

Oscar Djama
Oscar Djama on 20 July 2020