If you haven't rented a house before (or even if you have!) the process can be overwhelming and complicated.
With that in mind we've put together a step by step guide to stress free house hunting that should leave you informed and confident about getting into the rental market!
Most students live in groups: it’s often cheaper, often easier to find properties and usually more fun. But remember that you’ll usually be responsible for the house (and the state you leave it in) as a group – so think carefully about who you’ll be living with...
Think about how well you know your housemates – if you don’t live with them already, you might not realise how clean or noisy they are, or how much they party, until you move in with them. If you already live together, think carefully about how you get along as a group. If you haven’t met anyone you’d like to like to live with yet, don’t panic. There are always adverts in the Union building, and around Clifton (such as outside the 10 o'clock shop), for housemates wanted. The Accommodation Office also have a bulletin board where students advertise their spare rooms.
Happy with housemates? Now sit down and work out some of the key details.
What are the features, above all else, you want this house to have? What are you prepared to compromise on?
It could be things like good-sized rooms, parking, bike storage, or a garden.
There are plenty of houses to go around! Agents/landlords may tell you that houses are running out or in short supply – that just isn’t true. Properties are registered all year round. Bristol SU Lettings is a great place to start looking for property as they will not charge you any fees for booking your accommodation through them.
The University of Bristol housing advice fair is on 30th November, and Bristol SU Lettings release their listings in early December.
Don't feel pressured! Remember what you’re looking for in a house, and don’t be tempted to drop your standards or sign for something you can’t afford to pay, you will find what you’re looking for eventually!
Some landlords or agents may try to pressure you into looking and signing for properties early. Remember that they’re the ones on the back foot here – they don't want to be left with an empty property. They might even be trying to get you into a house they couldn’t rent last year! They might show you grotty houses first to make it seem that there are only a few good ones out there, or try to tempt you with a ‘discount’ or ‘gift’.
If you’re worried about anything a landlord or agent says to you, get advice from the Accommodation Office.
Bristol SU Lettings is the best place to start as they charge zero agency fees and are run by the SU, so they put students first! Bristol SU Lettings has a 93% approval rating from students.
You might want to avoid letting agents with bad reputations. See reviews of student accommodation at movem.co.uk
Landlords are responsible for:
You're responsible for:
Checking the fire and smoke alarms work after you move in. If an alarm stops working, check if it needs new batteries or contact the landlord to arrange a replacement alarm.
There’s no getting away from it – your tenancy agreement is a legal contract. As such, there are all sorts of important things to think about. Some of the main ones are set out below, but for specific advice and more information, speak to the University’s Accommodation Office. The Accommodation Office offer a contract checking service. We strongly recommend using it!
Once you’ve signed a tenancy agreement, it’s very hard to get out of! So make absolutely sure yours says what you want it to, and that you understand what you’re signing. In particular, think about:
If you’re concerned about, or you don’t understand, your tenancy agreement: speak to the Accommodation Office before you sign anything!
If you rent through an agent, you are likely to have to pay agency fees. As a matter of law, agents are not allowed to charge you a fee (or whatever else they try and call it!) for:
If an agent tries to charge you for either (or both) of these things, please report them to a Just Ask adviser. However, an agent can charge you for things like:
If you’re not 100% happy with an agent’s fees, behaviour or documents, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING AND DON’T PAY THEM ANY MONEY!
Pretty much every landlord/agent will insist on you paying a deposit when you accept the property. This is usually equivalent to 4-6 weeks’ rent (but may be more, for example if you don’t have a guarantor). The purpose of a deposit is to protect the landlord from any financial loss he/she suffers as a result of you not behaving properly in the house. As such, your landlord may deduct money from your deposit for:
For tips and advice on how to make sure you get as much of your deposit back as possible, have a look at the moving in and moving out sections of our website.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy (“AST”), your landlord is obliged to protect your deposit. He/she should tell you within 14 days of receiving your deposit how your deposit is being protected. Some landlords try to get around this by calling your deposit something else. If this is the case, or you're concerned (or unsure about) whether your deposit is being properly protected, speak to the University’s Accommodation Office.
Most agencies and landlords will require a guarantor for your tenancy. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your landlord (usually for rent or damage) if you do not. Precisely what your guarantor will be liable to pay depends on:
Most landlords will insist on the guarantor being a “UK guarantor”. If you don’t have a UK guarantor, you could consider offering one of the following options instead: