When should I start looking for next year's accommodation?

AFS Team·18 November 2016·4 min read
When should I start looking for next year's accommodation?
University is already a stressful time without the added confusion of living arrangements. There’s no official date or week when it’s best to start looking, but here are some of the main reasons why it’s best not to rush into a contract:

  • Most of the time, when you choose your house or flat you sign an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This means that you’ve entered into a legally binding contract that you will pay the agreed amount of rent for the agreed amount of time (usually 9-12 months. If you rush into living with people you met three or four weeks ago then end up falling out, not all landlords will let you find a replacement tenant to take your place and take over your contract. Worst case scenario, you could end up stuck paying for a house you don’t actually live in.

    • Waiting for a few weeks gives you time to get your priorities straight and make sure everyone’s happy with the house you choose. You can meet with your future flatmates and talk about the maximum price you’re prepared to pay per year, whether you need inclusive bills and WiFi in the contract, whether you’ll all pitch in for a TV licence, whether a parking space is essential, etc, etc. You can also spend a few weeks looking round different houses to get a better comparison of what’s out there.

    • Fear Of Missing Out motivates a lot of students to settle for the first decent house they see. But according to the managing director of sturents.com, only 11% of student contracts are actually signed in November, the majority taking place throughout first term and in the lead up to Christmas. Although most major accommodation companies put their properties on online listings at the beginning of November, smaller landlords will start advertising throughout the year.

    • Professional, qualified landlords won’t pressure you into signing a contract. If the landlord tries to push you to sign the lease before a certain deadline, or comes up with mysterious ‘admin fees’ but doesn’t explain them, it’s probably best to let the house go. It could help you escape from further problems down the line, such as the landlord charging you unfair fines for damage at the end of the year.

    The best thing to do is ignore the general feeling of panic that tends to spread across campuses around the middle of November. Take the time to do research, agree on the features you and your flatmates can’t do without, book viewings to four or five different houses or flats, and ask as many questions as you can.