It might seem a long while away yet, but by the end of this semester first years will undertake the difficult decision that is who to live with in their second year. Making the choice of whose faces you can stand the sight of for, preferably, the next two or more years is difficult, particularly as you only have a matter of months to sieve out the nose-pickers and the ones who grow civilisations in unwashed pans.

House prices

Photo: Huffington Post

The following four hundred words or so endeavour to provide a fair warning and expose the difficulties you may face while student house-hunting if you decide to go through an agency, warts and all. Estate Agency is a trade where regulation is exceptionally poor and what you might find, as a student, is that Estate Agents may take advantage of your inexperience in house-hunting. Unfortunately in our house, we learnt this the hard way. Your nose-picking housemate might be the least of your problems when it comes to excessive agency fees and studying page after page of tenancy agreement.

On finding a humble student abode that’s to your liking, complain if the agent that’s conducting the viewing isn’t on time. Don’t wait outside in the rain with mascara streaming down your face – ring the agency and be mad. You might find yourself having to pay that idiot a lot of money to “turn up on time”. Remember that the Letting Agent is paid to know, or at least have basic details on the house you’re viewing. If the only wisdom they can provide is “this is a room” then questions need to be asked. Things such as what the main energy supply in the house is useful to know when you begin to look for energy suppliers, or whether or not you’ll be provided with a hoover to maintain the condition of the property – so it doesn’t end up looking like a custard-cream crumb kingdom. To be honest you’ll probably get a hoover; some of us just aren’t that lucky.

What can’t be stressed enough is ensuring that you know exactly how much you’re paying and what each of those fees cover. There’s nothing worse than finding out you’re expected to pay a lot more than you anticipated. Ensure you get receipts for every single payment as well. Remember that you’re not guaranteed to get your deposit back, so be utterly pedantic when it comes to taking photos of every scratch, stain and skid-mark when you move in.

Confirm that you have all the valid safety documents for your house. If in the inventory it states that you have no smoke detector, gas safety certificate or CO detector, assume that there’s either been some kind of mistake or evacuate. Further concern might be warranted, if you find a notice on your gas meter reading “WARNING: Immediately dangerous, do not use” – but it might turn out that Jim the gas-man just forgot to take off the safety notice. Silly Jim.

This is a trade that is desperately in need of stronger legislation, so make sure you’re aware of your rights and question anything that doesn’t feel right.