Paine Manwaring enjoys a close working relationship with ethical student landlords. We are regularly briefed to maintain and repair properties, so that they are ready for young people to live and study in. We are aware of the work that goes into maintaining the standards of housing required to safely accommodate students. Consequently, we have witnessed what you should and shouldn’t accept from your student house.

Here we offer some essential guidance on what to look for when viewing student accommodation.

Prepare for the viewing

You do not want to be part of the third of all students who believe their rental property is poor value for money. The only way to counter this is with thorough preparation.

First, you need to know your budget. How much can you afford to pay and is there someone willing to come in with you to share the cost? You can go into an HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) where you are renting a room in a house. Alternatively, you can gather some of your most trusted friends to share the cost of your flat or house.

Take a look at the student letting agency websites and notice boards to see what the average cost is going to be. Disregard the two extremes of way too expensive and way too good to be true – and consider whether the reality of your budget matches the reality of the marketplace.

Finally, part of the application process to rent a property will be a check on your credit rating. Make sure you know your rating before you apply and maybe think of imaginative ways of overcoming this. Sometimes it will need your parents to sign the lease for you, even though there is no legal minimum credit score for renting in the UK. Some of the best landlords may be unwilling to trust a valued property with someone who does not have a proven record of good financial management.

The viewing

Going through the local student letting agency will give you a good starting point and an added layer of security. The agency will work as a middle man with the landlord and ensure everything is done appropriately. If you go straight to the landlord, you may still want to ask the accommodation office to check if they are on the list of accredited landlords for the area.

When looking around the property you need to watch out for some common problems. You will want to avoid these houses or ask that work be done before you move in. The most common problems include:

  • Damp – which may appear as patches of wet on the wall or as the full-blown black mould. It is not just that this looks bad, it also smells bad and will impact allergies. Look closely around windows and doors for any tell-tale signs.
  • Pest problems – you may not see the mice, slugs, pigeons, cockroaches or rats but you will certainly see poop and other remains. Check in the kitchen cupboards and around bins.
  • Poor location – in some areas, you may not be safe and in others, it will take you too much time and money to get to uni. Crime rates in student areas tend to be much higher than elsewhere. Make sure you have adequate locks and other security features.
  • The electrics – you need to check the white goods, the sockets, the light switches – anything that has a current running to it. You should also check the fuse box to see that it has the appropriately dated maintenance sticker on the outside. If there are exposed wires, broken plug sockets or other potential dangers – ask for them to be mended or rent somewhere else.
  • The water supply and heating – you need taps that run and toilets that flush. If you are going to live with other people you need a reliable water supply. Any drips or puddles should be addressed before you move in. You may also want to check that the boiler switches on – or else it could be a cold winter. If you want to save on your bill, you may also want to check that there is appropriate insulation throughout the house.

If you are a landlord looking to rent to students, contact Paine Manwaring to see how our heating, plumbing and electrical specialists can ensure your house is safe, secure and comfortable.