Where do you start?
The best time to start house hunting is in May/June (to move in for the August /September). By this point in the year you will have a good idea who your friends actaully are, you will have completed some of you modules and passed some of your exams.
You are now in a good place to confidently say you will be coming back for the next academic year and so can safely start your house hunting. By this time you will also be in a much stronger position to negotiate with the landlord about reduction of contract time to avoid paying rent when you will not be living in the house, as well as getting repairs or updates carried out.
Where to look for a house
Once you have worked out your budget and chosen your friends carefully, then you can start your search.
The best place to start is Loughborough Student Pad, a website run by the Student Accommodation Centre (SAC).
All properties advertised on Loughborough Student Pad:
1. Have been inspected by SAC;
2. Are accredited by DASH - Decent and Safe Homes. Landlord Accreditation; and
3. Meet the standards set in partnership with Charnwood Borough Council
There is also a noticeboard on Student Pad where you can advertise for other housemates, or find a group you can join (make sure you meet them all first though).
Other alternatives are:
Accommodation may be found by word of mouth; information from friends and so on. If some people you know are due to leave a house that you like, follow it up with them, but always get their opinion on the landlord before- hand! However, be very careful about renting from someone who has approached you out of the blue- they are almost vertainly not giving you a bargain.
Some places are rented directly from the landlord and others are let through a letting agency. The letting agency work for the owner of the house (the landlord) and it is always worth remembering that! Some lettings agencies specialise in finding accommodation for students (that does not necessarily make them the best though).
If you use a letting agency, you will usually need to register with them before they offer you any accommodation. You can register with more than one letting agency at a time and they must not charge you for registering. You will have access to a larger number of properties, but they will charge you fees for their service. See our section on Letting agent fees and redress schemes.
Where NOT to look
- We do not advise you look for a house if you are not in Loughborough. We know of students who have paid a lot of money upfront for a house they had only seen on the internet. When they arrived to collect the keys the house, and the landlord, did not exist.
- Be wary of people who approach you in your home country- we know that some international students are targeted by 'friends' in chat rooms, who (because they speak the same language) lead them to believe they can be trusted, but when the student arrives in Loughborough the house either does not exist OR is not very pleasant and costs too much.
NB: it is now a legal requirement that letting agents publicise their fees to all prospective tenants and they must also be a member of a redress scheme, which helps to protect your consumer rights if you have a problem with the agent. Please contact us if you think a letting agent is not complying with the law.
Spareroom.co.uk, easyroommate.com and houseshare.com are all websites that offer rooms to rent. You can either search for a room or post your own details on there. Remember, do not rent a room without inspecting it first.
The quality and price of privately rented accommodation will vary. You should always go and see the accommodation before you agree to move in, sign any agreements, or pay any money.
If you have never been on a property viewing before then you will probably be wondering what you should be looking for. Good sized rooms and attractive décor are usually quite easy to spot but there are a whole host of practical issues you also need to consider.
Time spent inspecting a potential house systematically is invaluable. This will save you time, money and problems in the future. Use our checklist (see the content below) to help guide you.
Arrange the official viewing during the day in order to have a good look at the property from the outside.
- However prior to the viewing have a walk around the area at different times of the day and make sure you like the atmosphere and feel safe.
- Visit the area after dark with someone to ensure that you feel comfortable in the area at night. This property may be your home for the next 12 months and you need to be safe and secure.
- View with the group you are going to live with- make sure the whole group has seen the house; don’t rely on someone else’s opinion. They will have a different idea of what is acceptable than you.
- Talk to the existing tenants, if the agent/landlord won’t let you, take this as a warning sign.
- Go back afterwards and talk to the tenants if necessary, their opinion will be really useful.
- VIEW LOTS OF PROPERTIES- DON’T GO WITH THE FIRST ONE YOU SEE HOWEVER MUCH PRESSURE IS PUT ON YOU.
The checklist below if for you to print off and take with you when viewing properties. Click on the image for a pdf version you can print.
'Right to Rent' checks (applies to everyone)
Since February 1st 2016 landlords and letting agents have to check, by law, to make sure all tenants have a 'right to rent' in the UK. This was introduced by the Immigration Act 2014.
You have an unlimited right to rent if:
- You are a British Citizen
- You are an EEA/Swiss national
- You have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK
You have a limited right it rent if:
- You have limited right to reside in the UK, for example a Tier 4 (Student) visa
- You are an non-EEA national exercising EEA Treaty rights (e.g. Family member of an EEA/Swiss National)
- Home Office has given you a time-limited permission to rent.
You have no right to rent if:
- You are in the UK illegally
- You have over-stayed.
All halls of residence (whether the landlord is an educational institution or private accommodation provider) are exempt from the scheme, as is any accommodation provided for students directly by a higher or further educational institution.
For all other privated rented accommodation (including when you will be sharing with the landlord) the landlord must:
- Establish the adults who will live in the property as their only or main home
- Obtain original versions of one or more of the acceptable documents for adult occupiers
- Check the documents in the presence of the holder of the documents (via a live video link is acceptable)
- Make copies of the documents and retain them with a record of the date on which the check is made.
For a list of acceptable documents please see the Home Office Guidance, list A and B.
Where a person has unlimited right to rent in the UK, checks may be undertaken at any point before the residential tenancy agreement is granted. For students who have alimited right to remain in the UK, the document checks should be undertaken not more than 28 days before the residential tenancy agreement comes into effect and the landlord will need to conduct follow-up checks at the appropriate time as detailed in section 5.3 in the Home Office guidance.
If you have any concerns about the right to rent checks please contact an adviser.
Once you have started house hunting you will need to know and understand more about the tenancy agreement or contract. Our section on contracts will help you.