House hunting. Two words that strike fear into the hearts of many a student. Whether you are an experienced second or third year looking for a new home for the oncoming year, or a fresher panicking about transitioning from the familiar comfort of halls into the big, wide residential world: housing is a stressful business. Concrete is here to help you with this seemingly impossible task. and help you bag yourself a home for the next academic year.
Stage One: Housemates
First things first: before you can think about houses, you need to think about housemates. Who you choose to live with is one of the most important decisions you will make while house hunting. If you’re a lucky fresher who would be fine living with your flat mates from halls, it’s time to be realistic. Finding a house that will fit all twelve of your flatmates will not be the easiest of endeavours. The smaller the number the better, even more so if you’re able to split equally (houses are more likely to be for six bedrooms rather than seven). If the thought of separating is too painful for you all, you can always try to find houses in the same area. If you are more of a lone wolf, and have found yourself on your own or with spaces to fill in your existing house, don’t fret. There are still other ways to scope out potential housemates. The Union organise Housing Socials throughout the term, so keep an eye on their official Twitter, their website, and their Facebook page for these events. The Home Run website also has an online message board where you can post and find others in your position.
Stage Two: Decisions, Decisions
So you have the housemates. Now it’s time to start asking yourselves what sort of house you are all looking for. Decide what matters most to you as a group – do you prefer larger bedrooms over larger communal spaces? Is there a certain ideal amount for rent? One of the most important questions is location. Do you want to be closer to the university or city? The Union offers videos of potential areas on their site. Sitting down to discuss these issues will eventually leave you with a list of criteria that you can look for when approaching the Home Run list. If you can’t find a place that fits your list, take a look at other housing agencies. The Union has a comprehensive house hunting guide that you can pick up in the Advice Centre or online.
Stage Three: The Hunt is On
With your team of fellow hunters and your checklist in hand, it’s time to get down to business. You will spend the majority of your house hunting on the phone to cab companies, landlords and estate agents, trying to fit in house viewings around seminars and lectures. Amidst all of this hustle and bustle, don’t lose focus on making sure you get a house that you are comfortable with when going on your house viewings.
Take your time walking around the house. Don’t let the landlord or agent rush you or feel shy because the current tenants might be there too. Take care to note the condition of the house, and be wary of any of the issues like dampness and dodgy heating that have plagued a lot of student houses. Ask the landlord/agent as many questions as you want about the house, and even ask the current tenants – after all, they were just like you once!
Stage Four: Moving in and Beyond
Once you have found a place, you can sit back and relax until the time comes for moving on and moving in. However, some of you might be thinking about who you can contact for any information about your house. This year the Union launched Home Let, a free letting agency that offers accommodation exclusively to UEA students. Home Let properties are advertised on the same website as Home Run properties, so many of you may have found houses through them. The agency offers two services; Fully Managed and Tenant Find. Fully Managed properties are dealt with exclusively through Home Let, and any problems and maintenance issues should be reported to them, as they are the point of contact throughout the tenancy. Tenant Find properties are dealt with by Home Let for viewings, tenancy agreements and first months’ rent. After moving in, any issues should be reported to the landlord.
For more information and help, take a look at the house hunting link on the UEA Student website or visit the Advice Centre on campus. And remember, don’t panic.