.

Finding somewhere to live

The Students' Guild Advice & Representation Centre also has lots of information on finding somewhere to live, including a useful house hunting checklist.

You can also visit Studentpad at Aston Student Guild. This lists rental opportunities which are within easy travel distance of the University.

Avoid signing a contract until well into the second term if possible. You may think you know who you want to live with next year but things do go wrong; people leave university or you may just change your mind about who you want to live with.  A tenancy agreement is a legally binding document - once you have signed you are committed.
Always try to visit the property at different times of the day and definitely visit more than once.

Try to arrange a time to visit when all potential housemates can go together and always make sure that everyone who is going to be living there is involved in the decision and has visited the property as opinions of what is acceptable may vary!

If the house is dirty and in a poor state of repair, that is likely to be an indication of how it will be when you move in.

Be thorough when you’re looking at a house – don’t be afraid to open cupboards, turn on taps to make sure the hot water works etc

Set a realistic budget before you start looking and stick to it. Make sure you take utility costs (water, electricity, gas, broadband etc) and living costs into account, as well as the monthly rent.  Don’t be tempted to raise the budget because you like the property - just find somewhere cheaper.

Ensure you have enough tenants for each rentable bedroom to minimise the cost.

Ask how much the utility bills are so that you can estimate how much you will be paying. If utilities are included in the rent, check if there is a cap on the amount that is included. 

Ask to see the Energy Performance Certificate - this shows how energy efficient a house is. If the house has a poor energy performance, the bills will be high. Visit the DirectGov website to find out more about Energy Performance Certificates.

This will be very difficult to get back if you change your mind so avoid paying a holding fee - there are plenty of other properties available.
A letting agent/landlord will want to carry out checks to safeguard their property and may charge you for this.
If the landlord agrees to replace or repair certain items before you move, in you should ask for this in writing. It's difficult to prove a verbal agreement.

If you notice damage before you move in, report this in writing so you don’t get charged for it at the end of your tenancy.
Speak to the existing tenants if they are there when you visit, ask their opinions on the house, agent and landlord, find out if have they have had any problems.

Log onto Studentpad at Aston Student Guild. This promotes rental opportunities which are within easy travel distance of the University.

Book an appointment with an Adviser in the Hub Advice Zone and we will check your tenancy agreement for you. Don’t sign anything or pay money up front until you are completely happy. 

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract so make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to before you sign a legally binding contract.
It’s crucial that you all sign the contract together so find a date when you can all get together.  If you don’t you could find that you are liable for rent for tenants who failed to sign the contract.
Avoid signing a joint tenancy with a group of strangers.  A joint tenancy means that you will be liable if one or more of the tenants don’t pay.  Minimise this risk by renting with people you know and trust.
Updated 30/05/2014 KJ

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research