Moving away from home for the first time and into a student residence can be every bit as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. After all, it’s not as if any of us are born knowing how to live alone, let alone make the necessary arrangements to find somewhere to live in the first place! It can all get a bit on the overwhelming side to say the least, but there’s a single rule uttered day in and day out by the UK’s most influential authorities that will ensure you’re always on top of your game:
If you don’t know, ask!
The trouble is that so many students just turn up like flocks of sheep, jump into the first place they come across and basically just sit around waiting for the bills to come in. not the end of the world you might argue, but by asking a few questions long before signing up, you can make sure you not only get the best possible place for you, but also the best possible deal.
Here’s a quick overview of the most important questions to ask a landlord in order to avoid getting stung and to make sure you’re in safe hands:
How Long Have You Been Letting to Students?
Right off the bat, it’s important to realise that letting to students is not that same as letting to say a 45-year-old couple that’s already been renting for two decades and know the process inside out. As a student, you’ll have plenty of questions to ask and much advice will be needed from time to time – are they the right people to go to for this? More often than not they’ll have been in the game for years or even decades, but if you come across a first-timer to student rentals, it’s a good idea to be a little more cautious.
What is NOT Included in the Rent?
There will always be those that like to tell you all the amazing things you get for free with the rent, though decide to strategically NOT tell you what’s not included. You then get hit with a bill and there’s nothing you can do about it – you did, after all, sign the contract. So basically, ask outright in black and white terms exactly what you will be expected to pay for on top of the rent. From water rates to electricity to gas to TV licenses and so on, there’s often more there than what meets the eye.
Do You Offer All-In Deals?
Some all-in deals that include all bills will save you a fortune, others will leave you out of pocket and in many cases all-in deals aren’t even offered. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to bring it up just to find out exactly what options are on the table.
Are Your Premises Insured?
It’s pretty safe to say that no right-minded property owner would try letting a place without proper insurance, but it does happen. As such, it’s a good idea to ask them about their insurance and its extent of coverage. It won’t cover your own personal property, but it should cover all essential appliances and the things around the place you depend on.
Can You Offer Evidence of Gas Safety Checks?
Safety checks should have been carried out recently on the gas supply piping into the place and really anything that’s gas-powered. This is something you should never be afraid to ask for evidence of – any kind of refusal or hesitation is a red-flag warning sign to run for the hills.
When Did You Last Replace the Property’s Main Appliances?
Some would call this picky, but in all honesty if they haven’t replaced the fridge or the washing machine since 1983, this probably tells you something about their character and how much they care for their tenants. It’s you that will have to put up with using these things for a year or three, so you might as well ask!
Do You Have References?
Probably the most important question of all, you need to make sure they have references to back up their claims and you should be given access to them. Be it written testimonials or the contact details of past or present tenants, never dive head-first into a contract before first finding out what your renting counterparts have to say.
Can I Think About it?
Last but not least comes something of a tricky question – ask if you can have a short while to think about it. If they decide to put pressure on you and basically say ‘Sign it now or never’, then you have yourself a dodgy dealer to avoid. They should have your best interests at heart and be confident enough that you’ll come back and sign – not practically beg you to sign right there and then. Check FindSpace.