What no one tells you about house hunting as a student

Freya Hugheson 30 October 2019
Two students discussing their housing options

In halls, you’ll spend a bit of your time looking forward to moving somewhere a bit more homely. A place where you can choose your housemates, decorate (a bit) and feel a sense of ownership...

It’s not all fun and games though, as you’ll realise when you’re house hunting and seeing the worst of the worst on offer.

So other than making sure you have people you can stand to live with, take note of the following to ensure you have a great year.

You’ll need upfront rent or a guarantor

If you read this while still in your first year, this is your chance to prepare. You might need to save up to provide your deposit and first month’s rent. Or, you might be able to get a parent or someone you know who is working full-time to be your guarantor. 

Essentially, that means they have to pay your rent if you don’t. Fair warning, though – they won’t be best pleased if they end up bailing you out.

Take photos of everything

Landlords care a lot more about breakages than universities. And if something’s not right, they’ll notice it and take the cost out of your deposit. 

You will move into a place where something, no matter how big or small, is broken. Document it and save the photo – it could be the difference between getting that deposit back or not.


This stands for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. They’ll hold your money away from you and your landlord for the entire year. That’s in case any disputes arise, and they’re the ones you make your case to. The good news for you is that they tend to side with tenants ...as long as you’ve not been a nightmare.

Keep that in mind.

Bills not included

It’s so rare to find a place that includes bills in the rent. So, make sure you’ve created a water-tight budget with a buffer of a few quid just in case you go over. 

Setting up bills is no fun. Nor is paying them. Look into using a bill-splitting app to make things smoother. It’s the 21st century, after all.

Don’t pay too much

Lucky for you, renters in England don’t have to pay letting agency fees anymore. The rules changed in June (2019) so you’ve missed out on the pain of being charged £200 to sign a piece of paper.

It will be cold

Unless you’re in a super student-centric city (or even if you are tbh), the houses will be old. Therefore, they will be cold. 

Unless you want a crazy big heating bill, it’s time to stock up on warm cosy clothes. It’s not uncommon to be in bed with two blankets, two hoodies and trackies on those freezing winter nights in a student house. Best of luck.

24 hours to clean the house

Despite what seems to be popular belief, your landlord and lettings agent isn’t allowed to pop around and check on things. They legally have to give you 24 hours' notice before showing up. 

So you’d better get cleaning.

Don’t mess with the walls

Tempting as it may be to cover your walls in photos, art or even posters if you’re a bit old school, it’s easier not to. 

The risk of Blu Tack ripping off paint when you move out sounds trivial but you don’t want your landlord demanding you repaint or part with your much-needed cash to sort it.

The big move out

When your tenancy is up, try and make a plan for how you’ll tackle leaving the house. It needs to be as clean as you found it – in some cases, it’ll end up cleaner – with no damage. 

Get everyone to take ownership of their own spaces then divide up communal rooms and hallways.

Don’t be the person that swerves their part of the big clean.

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Freya Hugheson 30 October 2019