Some tips on how to stay happy and safe in your new home...
When you move in your landlord should provide you with an inventory of the items (including furniture and white goods) in the house. If you aren’t provided with an inventory by your landlord, you can use the sample inventory prepared by the University’s Accommodation Office.
This is important: if the landlord claims that something has disappeared or been damaged since you moved in, and you can’t demonstrate otherwise, the landlord may make a deduction for that item/damage out of your deposit. If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, your deposit will be protected in a scheme that will mediate disputes about your deposit.
You should read the electricity, gas and water (if you have one) meters on the day your tenancy starts. Keep a note of the readings somewhere safe in case of any problems or disputes. You need to contact the relevant utility company/ies to tell them that you are the new tenants and to give them the readings.
At least one person will have to be named on each bill. To avoid one person being responsible for each bill, try to have at least two students named on each account and to have a different person responsible for each utility. You might even set up a joint bank account for household expenses – each person can pay into it by standing order and the bills are then paid out from that account. That way no-one ends up chasing you for money!
Some utility companies offer a discount if you pay your bills by direct debit. This can be really useful, but remember that each payment will be based on an estimated reading. Keep an eye on those estimates to make sure you’re not over/under-paying.
If you ever experience problems with your bills payments and think that they are overcharging you, make sure you contact Citizens Advice Bureau in Bristol to get advice on this issue.
You can also find useful information on how to make a complaint in regards to your energy and gas bills. This is in case you are sure that you have been charged incorrectly; check Ofgem's website for further information.
Generally speaking, full time students are exempt from paying council tax. However, there are some exceptions to this and the exact position depends on a number of factors. For more details, please refer to our council tax guide or contact a Just Ask adviser.
If you watch or record TV programmes live (whether on TV, live on-line, on iPlayer, or on any other device), you will need a TV licence. If your tenancy agreement covers the whole house, you will only need one TV licence. If you have separate tenancy agreements for each room, you will need a TV licence for each person who watches TV in this way. If you need more information, you can contact the TV licensing authority or visit the Accommodation Office.
It is important that you make sure your house is as safe as it can be: no-one likes being burgled. Take a look at the personal safety and crime sections of our website for ideas on how to stay safe in your home. Both the Avon & Somerset Police and Shelter have some more good hints and tips on this.
We strongly recommend that you take out insurance to cover your possessions (this will usually also cover accidental damage to your landlord’s possessions). Bear in mind that some insurers will only cover you if the property has window locks and/or locks on your bedroom door, so check the terms of your policy. And always read the small print!
It’s a really good idea to sort out the day-to-day domestic stuff early on. Things like who gets which room, who cleans what and whether you will eat together can cause headaches otherwise.
Cleaning rotas aren’t fun, but they can work really well. Divide the house into areas or jobs such as “bathroom” or “hallway carpets” with who’s responsible for what (and how often) to ensure that no-one ends up doing too much (or too little) housework.
Eating communal meals with housemates is a really good way to get together and catch up. It is also much more energy efficient, you’re less likely to waste food and it often works out cheaper. Try and have a meal together at least once a week.
A great way to make a good start in your new home is saying hello to your neighbours. Knock on their door and maybe offer them a cup of tea.
Having a good relationship with your neighbours (especially if they’re non-students) can make a huge difference to how much you enjoy living in your house. You will be able to look out for each other and if you have a good relationship, disagreements are less likely to occur!
Bristol City Council have all the information you need about what you can recycle in your area and when your rubbish and recycling collection is.
There are loads of ways to get involved in your local area. You could look into volunteering opportunities with Bristol SU Volunteering or help out with local groups such as scouts, brownies or the Avon Wildlife Trust. Taking up one of these opportunities will enhance not only your CV, but also the place you live.