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House hunting tips

If you've found a group of people to share a house off-campus with, consider the following tips and advice before you start the search for suitable accommodation.

  • Make sure you can afford the rent, the utility bills and your living costs such as food and travel.
  • Don't get caught out! There have been cases of people losing thousands of pounds to untrusty conmen who use sites such as Facebook and Gumtree as a front.
  • Don't panic and take the first property you see - there are plenty more out there, so view a few before making your decision.
  • Don't limit your search area - sometimes a property a little further away is the nicest.
  • Looking through agents? Ask before you view how much their fees are and what they are for.
  • Beware of items in disrepair. Make it clear that you will not sign a contract unless these are put right.
  • Don't accept any property where there is major building work to be carried out.
  • You have the right to take a copy of the contract away to read and understand it and get it checked out if necessary. The ARC at UBS offer a free lease checking service.
  • Don't sign a contract if you are in any doubt about your exam results! Contracts are very hard to get out of.
  • If you are in a group, make sure you can live with your housemates for the coming year!
  • If you are in a group, all housemates should sign the contract so that you are all equally responsible.
  • Make sure you take meter readings when you move in and set up your utilities accounts - gas, water and electric. Take readings when you move out - phone the readings through to the utility companies to close the accounts.
  • And don't forget Council Tax! If you are a full-time student you are exempt from Council Tax. You will need to obtain an exemption certificate from the Student Centre or e-Vision to give to the Council Tax office. We advise you to get a receipt from the local authority, just in case your certificate goes missing.

Hints and tips for living off campus

When you first move into your new home, it's wise to get a good understanding of your area and your neighbours.

  • Familiarise yourself with your property - locate the water stopcock, fuseboard, electric, water and gas meters.
  • Take meter readings of gas, electric and water, and set up utility accounts. Don't forget to get your Council Tax exemption certificate and send it to the Local Authority.
  • Find out what day of the week general rubbish is collected, and what day of the week (or fortnight) recycling is collected.
  • Walk around the area to find out the location of your closest transportation links and the local shops.
  • Introduce yourself to the people living next door to you. If problems arise it's handy to have known your neighbour for a while rather than having to introduce yourself in an emergency.