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How to Choose the Right Student Accommodation

Get to grips with what to look for in student accommodation and how to navigate the viewings.

Faye deGavre

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Jan 11, 2022

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6 min read

How to Choose the Right Student Accommodation

If you’re in need of a new place to live while completing your studies at university, then you’re going to need to brush up on your skills of finding the right student housing. Finding a student home can feel overwhelming, especially when diving into the rental market. So, take a deep breath and learn how to view properties like a professional. 

Preparing to view a flat

You may have found a sweet studio flat or a 5-bedroom home for the squad, but before you click that ‘Book a Viewing’ button, there are a few things to prepare. 

Start by knowing your budget. Maintenance loans are rarely enough to cover everything, so work out how much you have to afford on housing before you view any properties. Crunch the numbers, accounting for loans, additional grants or funding, income from a part-time job and any support you may receive from family. 

Consider your needs

Once you know your budget, you should take some time to think about the type of property you’re looking for as an individual tenant or as a group. Are you after a basic crash pad that provides somewhere safe and warm to sleep after a day of working hard and playing hard? Or are you looking for a cosy study area to work from? 

Also consider location. How close to the university does it need to be – a short walk or bus journey? Would you like to live in the centre of a bustling student hub with a hive of activity? Asking yourself questions like this will help you hugely in whittling down a long shortlist of properties into the ones that really could feel like home.

Get a guarantor onboard

Students tend to have reputation for not managing money well. Many Letting Agents and landlords require tenants to have a guarantor in order to rent a property. A rent guarantor is someone (usually a relative) who provides a guarantee that your rent will be paid. Here’s everything you need to know about a rent guarantor.

Research the area

Go and check out the area you’re thinking about living in before committing to moving there. A few ways to go about this include:

  • Take a walk: Scope out the neighbourhood by seeing what it looks like, how far away everything is and if the local social scene fits your needs. 
  • Ask around: There may be someone who lives in the area you’re interested in. Ask them about their experience of living in the area.
  • Check broadband speeds: The last thing you want after a busy day of lectures is to head home to find out your internet is incredibly slow.
Book a viewing

Once you’ve completed the above, it’s time to hunt down some properties and book some viewings. On Boomin, you can book viewings online 24/7 and receive instant confirmation. Aim to view properties in the harsh light of day so you can keep an eye out for signs of damp, large cracks in walls and any stained carpets.

What to look for in student accommodation

Before you head out, here’s what you should be looking for when viewing potential pads. 

  • Damp and mould

It’s a common issue in rental properties (and not just student ones). Be aware of any musty smells, black mould, or excessive amounts of condensation on windows – all classic signs of damp. While a small black mark on the wall might not seem like a big issue now, it can lead to larger problems in the property. 

  • Security

While there’s no requirement for properties to be fitted with a burglar alarm (though there’s a big bonus if you find one that does), you should make sure that all external doors can be properly locked.

  • Fire safety

In shared accommodation, there’s always going to be a higher risk of injury caused by fire, from unattended cooking, candles, electric appliances and more. The landlord has a responsibility to provide working safety equipment such as fire alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms if the property uses gas. Ideally, you should have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket installed in the kitchen. 

  • Utility supplies

Find out what utilities supply each property you look at, whether it’s electric, gas or both. There are pros and cons to each, but gas central heating will be cheaper and warmer than electric heaters. Some also prefer to cook with gas as it doesn’t take long to heat up. However, having just electricity in the property allows you to use a supplier who sources power from sustainable and renewable resources. 

Many suppliers will fit a smart meter for free so you can keep an eye on your spending. Check to see if the property still has a pre-payment meter installed. These are old meters that require a top-up card to be inserted to use electricity and gas, which can be frustrating when it runs out in the middle of cooking dinner on Sunday when the corner shop is closed so you can’t top up. Thankfully, many properties are moving to smarter, easier meters. 

  • Furnishings

Most students won’t have much furniture (if any) to take into student accommodation, so it’s likely you’ll be looking for a fully furnished property. Typically, this covers everything from beds, desks, chairs, wardrobes, sofas and kitchen appliances. Check that the furnishings are in good condition and note anything that may be missing – such as a kettle, toaster or washing machine. Also assess if there is enough fridge/freezer space for all the tenants.

If the property is partially or fully furnished, be sure to get a copy of the inventory at the time of move-in.

  • Water pressure

During the viewing, check that the toilet flushes and all the taps work properly and run with good pressure. While doing this, if you spot any leaking taps, check with the Letting Agent that they’ll be repaired before you take up tenancy. 

  • Phone signal

You don’t want to move into your perfect student pad only to find it’s a black hole for phone signal. It’s an easy one to forget when viewing multiple properties, but always make a conscious effort to check signal bars on your phone around the property. 

  • Existing tenants

If they’re in while you’re having a nosey, the best thing you can do is ask the existing tenants what it’s like living in the property. They may be able to give you insights on how warm or cool the space gets at different times of the year, whether they’ve had any repairs done and what the agency is like to work with.

Questions to ask when viewing a house:

  • What, if any, bills are included?
  • What furniture and appliances are included?
  • What is the deposit? When does it have to be paid?
  • How do I get my deposit back at the end of the tenancy?
  • Is there a car park or bike storage available?
  • How does summer rent work?
  • What are the tenants’ responsibilities?

Here are more tips on what to look for in a rental property and how to navigate the viewing.

Find your student rental flat

Good luck with your student accommodation search. Finding a student flat is a great experience; try to relax and enjoy the process. When you’re ready to find a property to rent, discover more on Boomin. Our advanced property site offers a wide range of suitable spaces to rent and you can book viewings online 24/7 with trusted and experienced Letting Agents. Start your rental search today.

Faye deGavre

Content Writer