The Home Run list has been released and it is time to look for a home for next year. Whether looking for the first time or the fifth, it can be difficult. Concrete is here to lend a helping hand and offer some advice.
The first thing to think about is the location of the property. There are a range of possibilities; from the elusive Golden Triangle, to West Earlham, or to Bowthorpe. It is important to be realistic when considering how far you are willing to travel each day. What if every Monday starts with a 9am lecture in Thomas Paine? Also, look out for local public transport links and local amenities, such as takeaways and local supermarkets.
So now that the location has been chosen, next is the house itself. It is easy to get carried away when on viewings as the excitement of finding your own home can cloud ones judgement. First, always look at the exterior: is it well maintained? Look out for broken guttering, missing roof tiles, cracked window panes or damaged doors – there is always the risk that what initially seems minor can cause large (and expensive) problems six months later. If there is a garden, is it well maintained and clear of rubbish? Is a lawn mower provided if it is your responsibility to take care of the garden?
The interior of the house is most difficult to judge in a short viewing so it is important to look carefully, perhaps take a camera to record anything you don’t see the first time. Make sure that the interior of the property is also well maintained, so look out for any signs of damp. Make sure that the hot water and heating work and that the décor and furniture are in a good condition. Safety is also incredibly important, so make sure that all windows are lockable, there are suitable strong locks on the front and back doors, there are working smoke and carbon dioxide alarms and that the landlord has a current gas safety certificate for the boiler (this can be checked on gassaferegister.co.uk).
The communal living spaces will be the most-used rooms in the house, so make sure that they are large enough for the number of people. Many students embrace leaving the microwave-ovens of campus accommodation behind and enjoy a new kitchen, but make a note for the important appliances: oven, hob, microwave, washing machine, and perhaps even a dishwasher. Next, are the bedrooms of sufficient size? Remember, students do have to do some work so a desk and chair is essential; if there is not one currently make sure there is room. Bathrooms can seem unimportant, but can be the cause of tension between housemates. Consider how many bathrooms are necessary for the number of people, and look closely at the fittings: cracks expand with time.
Finally, speak to the current tenants if possible. They will know every inch of the house and will give a frank and honest opinion on the property, especially when it comes to bills. Some are lucky enough to have bills included, but to others they can be an unexpected cost.
Keep your eyes open, be ruthless and remember you don’t need to say yes to the first property.