Top tips for online viewings
Like everything else in student life, looking for student accommodation has become slightly more complicated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With travel shutting down, restrictions in place, and a lot of uncertainty, students have found it hard to plan ahead and find suitable accommodation.
Nonetheless, things aren’t as bad as they might seem, and there are systems in place to ensure that every student still finds accommodation throughout the pandemic, be it halls, private halls, or private renting.
Covid safe viewings
Most landlords have adapted to COVID-19 by offering online viewings. These come in many forms, from the standard 360° virtual tours to FaceTime or Skype calls.
While the prospect of having to find, view, and select a property without ever seeing it before might sound daunting, this is a problem many students have faced long before the pandemic.
For most international and first-year students, it is rare that they will see their halls before they move in. Most first-years get assigned halls based on their preference, or even randomly at times, with the only point of reference being photos and videos provided by the university itself. While private houses for rent often have photos and videos on their listing that give you a sense of the size and layout of the property.
No matter whether it is in person or online, it is always important to view a property: remember you’re not just analysing the house or room, you’re getting a feel for how the landlord treats its tenants, whether there have been any problems in the past, and, ultimately, whether it’s a fit for you!
Here’s what to expect in an online viewing:
- The first step is to book a viewing. Some properties might have a virtual tour uploaded already but others may need to be asked directly for a video tour.
- You’ll be contacted at an arranged time by a property letting agent or a halls member of staff.
- If it’s a house they should show you the exterior and then proceed to the interior - make sure to ask about any outdoor facilities or security features.
- If it’s halls then you should get a full tour of the property if possible, including entrance, reception, mailroom, laundry room, or any other amenity aside from your own flat/bedroom.
So here’s what to think about when you attend an online property viewing:
- Ask questions: If you manage to get a member of staff on a FaceTime or Skype call with you, this is the perfect opportunity to ask questions and get specific. Ask them about that crack in the wall, the insulation you’re concerned about, or what the neighbors are like. While they’re there to convince you to take the property, they are also there to show you around and make sure their property meets your standards, so don’t be shy!
- Visuals aren’t everything: While a property may look amazing through the lens of a camera, an online or virtual viewing can’t give you an accurate sense of the surroundings, noise levels, or overall atmosphere. Make sure to ask the landlord or property agent about any concern you may have that can’t be answered on a call.
- Ask for layout & measurements: Sometimes it can be hard to get a sense of the size of a room or house if you can’t see it and stand inside it yourself, but getting exact measurements may help! While this might not always be possible, you can try asking the letting agent for a layout of the house/room so that you can plan ahead.
- Ask for photos: If you’re planning on living in halls or private halls you will most likely get generic photographs and videos of the type of accommodation you will be living in. Often, big accommodation buildings don’t have the exact layout for every flat and room which makes it hard to plan ahead and envision your space. If you would like more information, just contact the accommodation provider and ask to see photos of your exact room and flat.
Overall there are some benefits to online viewings:
- There’s less risk that one of your flatmates will be late or not able to attend the viewing.
- If you don’t like a property you won’t have wasted too much time, money, or energy in viewing it.
- If you love the place you can try and find out if you can view the property in person and resolve any queries you might have.
With the lifting of restrictions on the 19th of July, in-person accommodation viewings should be able to proceed as normal. However, if you’re still unsure about the legitimacy of online views look at the properties on our website and consult landlord testimonials - they might help you make a decision!
Search for your perfect property today onwww.accommodationforstudents.com