House-hunting is never an easy task, and if you’re new to the process it can feel especially daunting. There are lots of things consider when looking for a place to live, and it’s really important not to feel rushed into a decision.
We asked our Student Communications Ambassadors for their advice when it comes to looking for your next place.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
First and foremost, it’s important to know that you can ask for help if you need it. Finding accommodation can be complicated, and it’s best to ask someone if you need help understanding the process, or your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. The RUSU Advice Service is a fantastic resource, ready to help you with all sorts of issues relating to housing – whether it be understanding the terms of your contract or dealing with problem neighbours.
“When going in, know your rights as a student tenant, and how to solve issues. I’ve experienced landlords attempting to take advantage or ignore the lack of tenant rights of large student households. If your landlord isn’t responding to your requests, or is being difficult, speak to the council – a member of Reading Borough Council comes in to RUSU twice a month purely so students can seek advice on finding solutions face to face! This cuts unnecessary stress, and also pressures your landlord in a way that you, as a student tenant, couldn’t on your own.” – Elliot
If you are confused by anything or experience any problems before, during or after your house-hunting process, you can contact the RUSU Advice service at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call on 0118 378 4100. Alternatively, you can drop in during their opening hours.
Take your time, do your research and ask lots of questions!
Start thinking about accommodation sooner rather than later, and ask lots of questions before you make a decision. This includes asking yourself important questions – can you see yourself living in this place? Is the location practical for you?
“Consider if you are taking a car – if yes, is there a driveway or will you have access to a permit? It sounds obvious, but how far actually are you from University and the nearest shop? Is there enough furniture in your house for everything you require, or will you need to purchase a table and chairs, for example?” -Hannah
Sadly, not all estate agents are created equal, so it’s best to do some research – if you are looking at a property, look into the agency that takes care of it. Do they have a good track record when it comes to dealing with tenant concerns and maintaining their property? If you can, try to have a word with the people already living at the property – they will know best!
“Check out reviews online about Estate Agents and take lots of photos when you move in and send it to them- so they can’t charge you later!” -Abi
Finding your Housemates
It’s highly likely that if you’re renting private accommodation, you are going to be looking for housemates to share it with. You may already have a group of friends you’re planning to live with, but if you’re new to the area or your friends have other arrangements, you may need to get out there and look for others to join forces with.
“Looking for student accommodation can appear daunting at first glance. However, from my personal experience, joining the ‘Find a Housemate – Reading University Students’ Union‘ Facebook page makes finding a house both straightforward and enjoyable.” -Liam
To avoid unnecessary conflict down the road, it’s important to consider what your values and expectations are when it comes to your living space. Do you have very high standards when it comes to keeping things clean and tidy, or do you have a more relaxed attitude? Do you like a noisy house with lots of activity, or are you happier in a quieter environment? When choosing your housemates, it’s important to find out early on what their expectations are, and see if they align with your own.
“When going in with other people – make sure you’re clear if this house is going to be your HOME, or just a place to sleep during term-time. This dictates the amount of work, cleaning, and money each person is willing to put into the house – and having differing values may cause conflict. Remember that your whole house will only be as clean/well maintained as your least tidy housemate!” -Elliot
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for accommodation or dealing with housing issues, and there are times when you may come up against frustrating stumbling blocks – but it’s important to stay positive.
“If you’re stressed out by all this – think of it as valuable experience and practice for later! If you’re willing to learn from all these battles, by the time you’ve graduated and have your own place, you’ll be a pro at handling issues (which will save you time, money and stress)!” -Elliot
We wish you the best of luck on your accommodation search!