More and more money is currently being ploughed in to student accommodation and in particular, the purpose built student accommodation.
These are the buildings that are specifically built for students. However, there are still lots of local landlords and letting agents in all the university areas.
With so many options in your town or city, how do know which student accommodation is the right one?
Wants and Needs as a Student
For me, the first thing you need to do is to know what you want from the accommodation. You need to know some criteria, this can change but the following always helps:
- Amount of beds
- Bills included
- Added extras
Beds – Most agents and landlords, like the houses to be taken by a group as they know they will get on.
Location – Which area do you want to live in, is it dictated by price or the commute time! It’s up to you!
Price – What can you afford, this is a big factor.
Bills included – You might be paying a little more for it, however, it means you don’t have to sort it yourself and fall out with house mates.
Added extras – In student accommodation, you can get gyms, cinemas, free breakfasts and so much more. Which one of these do you want most!
When you start searching save all the properties, houses and studios that meet your needs as you have outlined above and go and view them.
For me, there aren’t a thing as too many viewings. If you view the same house many times that’s different but viewing it two and maybe three times is sometimes not a bad idea.
What generally happens is that you will spend maybe 15 minutes in the house, decide you like it, book it and then not see it until you move in again.
By going on several viewings of different properties, you can then start to build up an idea of what a good student house is and what isn’t. You will also be able to build up an idea of what a good landlord or agent does and what a not so good one does and acts like.
It will be alien at first, however, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The only negative about this is that it will take more time than if you were to just book the first house and more will appear to have booked their dream house while you will still be searching.
To find the right student accommodation for you, you are going to need to see the place. Here are some tips of what to do when viewing the student accommodation to make sure that you know it is the right one for you:
- Questions – there is no such thing as a stupid question. You can clarify anything you want in the viewing
- Check all the bedrooms – You have no idea which one is going to be yours yet!
- Make sure you have read their tenancy agreement so you can ask questions about it
- Check the quality of the house, how clean it is and finally how well maintained it is
- Take pictures ad videos if you can, this way you can remember it if you want to think about it.
It might often come to the point where you have found some similar properties and they are with different landlords or letting agents. How do you know which one is the best fit for you?
For me, there are some key points that need to be standard and then there are extra which are nice to have, some key points are:
- Communication – It doesn’t need to be fancy and all singing and dancing, but as long as they are communicating. WhatsApp, emails or portals are all fine!
- Maintenance – There are always varying priorities for repairs, but they all still need to be done and not left for an entire year.
- Well designed, functional and quality properties – The properties that they manage and rent should hit a certain standard as it reflects themselves more than the landlord behind it.
- Systems and Processes – No nonsense, simple and easy to understand. There are certain rules for things like deposits, however, this will give you a good idea of what students are treated like.
- Experience – What experience do they give the students that book with them. Again, it doesn’t need to be freebies every week, it can be doing the simple things very very well, but what experience do they give the students and how much effort are they putting into it.
- Storage – Bare minimum should be a desk, chair, bedside draws and bed. Somewhere to put clothes is such as a clothes rail or wardrobe is next but people have different preferences. You shouldn’t need to buy any draws for your room.
- Inspections – Students might find them annoying, however, this means the landlord and agent are taking it seriously and are being vigilant for repairs and damage which is a good sign.
If you are staying in purpose-built student accommodation, you need to look at their communal areas and see how big they are, are fit for purpose or are they just a room with an Xbox in labelled ‘Games Room’.
Secondly, make sure you check the size and storage of the rooms. Some can be very small and not have a lot of places to put all your belongings!
Some nice to have or additional extras could be:
- Freebies – Freebies aren’t essential but can be a tipping point for many students, but please look at what they do over what you get for free. This includes cashback.
As well as listing some of the good points, I thought it would be good to give a list of things that might make you do some more research on whether it is a good option or not.
Things that I am wary about:
- Really high incentives – They aren’t doing it to be generous, they want students in rooms and an overly high price would make me dig a little deeper.
- Consistent & Bad Press – Nobody can please everyone and everyone has bad reviews, however, if you see a lot of bad news about the quality of housing, then do some more research
- Quality – If you walk in and it’s not clean, the furniture is broken and the house looks tired then I would see a few more houses
You will also be able to pick up on the demeaner of the agent or landlord, most are really relaxed and helpful. If they are wanting you to book and persistent with it, be wary. However, when they say they go quick, some aren’t fibbing and they go quickly.
If you have any more tips you want to share with students, please contact us and then we can add them on to here!