Moving into a student house is an exciting experience. Unlike in halls, you get to choose exactly where you live and who you live with. Unfortunately, finding the right place to live as a student can come with its challenges. While some houses might look great on the surface, it can be easy to miss potential issues during a short viewing. If you're like many other students, you may never have viewed a property independently before. To help you avoid missing any warning signs, we've compiled a list of ten questions to ask when viewing a student house. Armed with these queries, you'll be able to gain a clearer sense of the property, its features, and its possible drawbacks from the letting agent showing you around.
How much is the rent?
The first, and potentially most important thing to establish at a viewing is how much it will actually cost you to live in the house. You might already know this from the property listing, but it's always good to double-check. There's no point falling in love with a house and then realising it's way out of your budget.
Are bills included?
Some properties offer the rent with the cost of the gas, electric, water, and Wi-Fi already included. This means you don't have to worry about setting up any utilities when you move in, or paying multiple bills each month. You just pay a set monthly rent, and it covers everything you need. However, it can be a slightly more expensive option.
Before your viewing, you and your housemates should decide whether you'd like to rent a property with bills included or not. You can then ask the letting agent if this is an option.
How much is the deposit?
Most properties will require you to pay a deposit before you move in. This acts as security against any potential damage to the property. At the viewing, you should find out how much the deposit is so you can account for the cost in advance. You should also ask which deposit protection scheme it will be held in for the duration of your tenancy, so you know your money is legally protected and secure.
How long is the contract?
Most student contracts will last for 52 weeks, but occasionally some will last only for the duration of the academic year. If you don't want to pay for the summer months when you won't be using the property, you need to ensure you aren't signing a 52 week contract. On the other hand, if you need to stay in the property during the summer months, you should make sure this is possible by asking up front at the viewing.
What appliances are included?
You shouldn't assume that everything you see at a viewing is included in the cost of the rent. Some of the furniture and appliances might belong to the current tenants. Consider which appliances are important to you and ask the letting agent if they come with the property. For instance, common appliances like microwaves, tumble dryers, and dishwashers do not always come as standard in student houses.
Is there a working smoke detector and burglar alarm?
Your safety is extremely important. You'll want to make sure that you're protected in case of an emergency. It's now a legal requirement for landlords to ensure that their properties have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors - but it's always good to double-check. You should also ask if there is a burglar alarm in case of a break-in.
Is there a Gas Safety Certificate and Energy Performance Certificate?
Before moving into a student house, you should ask to see these two very important documents. A Gas Safety Certificate will show when gas appliances in the property were last inspected and reassure you that they work correctly and safely. An Energy Performance Certificate will tell you how efficiently the property uses energy. This will be ranked on a scale from A-G. The more efficiently a property uses energy, the lower your energy bill is likely to be, so it's in your best interest to check this upfront.
Is there parking?
If you drive and you want to bring your car to uni, you should check whether your student house has a parking space. If it doesn't, you should look into what the street parking regulations are nearby. You might need to purchase a parking permit if your house doesn't have a parking space. Equally, if you have a bike, you might want to consider whether the property has adequate storage space for it.
Will any damage be fixed before I move in?
If you notice any damage to the house you are viewing while you're looking around, you can always ask for it to be repaired before you move in. There's no need to accept broken appliances or sub-par furniture as standard. To ensure that the repairs actually happen, you can ask the property manager or letting agent to add them in as an addendum to your tenancy agreement before you sign.
Who is my point of contact for the property?
Once you live in a property, it's only natural that issues may eventually arise. If this happens, you need to know who to contact. Sometimes you'll be dealing with the landlord directly, while other times, they may have allocated a property manager to handle any problems that occur. It's important to know who you should get in touch with before you move in.
You're ready to get viewing!
And that completes our list of ten questions to ask when viewing a student house. You're now ready to start your search for your next home away from home. And, of course, if you do happen to see the current tenants while looking around, you can ask them what they think of living there too.
If you need more advice about house-hunting about university, check out our list of ten things to look for when viewing a student house.
Ready to start searching? Find your perfect property on StuRents.com, the UK's leading student accommodation platform.