House hunting can be a really stressful experience - especially for first time renters. I’ve been renting as a student for four years now, so here is a few top tips from my experience to try and keep the stress levels low while searching for your new student house!
1.Letting agents like to treat students like we're stupid. Do not let them rush you into making a decision by telling you that there are not many houses left on the market.
A lot of student letting agencies like to think they can make a lot of money from the fact that students don’t know the renting process particularly well. Letting agents will often try and scare students into making a quick decision with their “industry knowledge”. For example, whilst looking for my current house, one student letting agent told us that there were barely any properties left on the market that were under the specifications we were looking for. They said if we wanted to all live together, rather than splitting up, we would have to make a decision quickly. One search on Rightmove after the conversation proved this to be completely wrong. They were just trying to stress us into making a quick decision. Don’t let them make money from our stress!
2. Finding a house is a team effort! Make sure everybody is sharing the work.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like the only person that is pulling their weight in the house finding process. It can be a big task, but splitting the workload amongst everyone is a sure fire way of making the entire process a lot less stressful. Make sure to set up a group chat right away, make sure to book viewings at a time where most people are free, even try and make viewings more enjoyable by taking a trip to a local pub for a drink afterwards! Working together can make the process a lot less boring.
3. Try not to organise too many viewings in one day. It can become tiring and might change your perception of a house.
In second year we organised six viewings in one day that were all across the city. By the final viewing we were exhausted from walking back and forth across Brighton, and all the houses began to blend into one another. By the end of the day we were so tired of viewings, we ended up signing for the last house we saw. We thought it was the best we could get because it was the best of the day. If we had organised viewings across a few days we would have had much more patience, and probably have chosen a much nicer property. Don't wear yourself out!
4. Research guarantors!
Before I started looking for my first student house, I didn’t even know what a guarantor was. Make sure to keep up with our Facebook, where we will soon be posting all the information you’ll need to know about guarantors, and guarantor schemes.
5. Get your calculations correct!
Remember: The monthly rent is the amount per week, multiplied by 52, and divided by 12. Getting the maths wrong could make you sign for a house that is out of your price range. Everyone has made this mistake but it’s important to get your sums right!
6. Make a spreadsheet
I know this sounds really boring, but making a shareable spreadsheet of all the properties you’ve viewed can be a life saver. Put in a link to the property, all the financial information, and a pros and cons list. Your final decision can become a lot easier when you can see all the information easily!
7. Try not to get too attached to properties.
I’ve been there before. You see the house of your dreams, you start buying your LED lights, planning your posters, only to find out that another group has snuck in and got their first. It can be really hard but it’s useful to try and not get emotionally attached to properties. It helps to remember that there is always other options out there. It sounds really cringey but a lot of the time, it’s the people inside that make the house rather than what colour the walls are painted. Once you’ve paid the holding fee, then you can start browsing Facebook Marketplace for Himlayan salt lamps for your dream room, but...before then always have a back up plan.
8. There are always more options.
I’ve mentioned it a few times already in this list but it is key to remember. There is always more options. I signed the tenancy agreement for the house I’m currently renting only 3 weeks before the proposed move in date, and it’s the best house I’ve had in Brighton. That isn’t to say you should always leave it last minute, but don’t think that just because you haven’t got your dream house by January that the next year of your life has been ruined.