Finding your Home
Finding your next home for the academic year can be a daunting prospect, especially when you face competition from other students in the local area. Your initial reaction might be to rush head first into finding accommodation so that you can secure the ‘best’ available home because all of the best places to live get snapped up first. This isn’t always the case, and Stoke-on-Trent offers an abundance of affordable student lettings through various providers. Take your time to survey the local area and even see if you can find an ex-tenant to chat to about what the house or area is like during both the night and day.
There are some important things to consider before you decide completely on where you’re going to put your feet up for the next year, such as:
Working out what you can afford, alone or in a group.
Make sure that you can afford the rent, whether that is for a place you’re renting alone, or whether the group that you’re going to be living with can all pay the rent so that you don’t face repercussions for something that isn’t your fault. Remember that there may be added costs for bills or deposits that you might not have considered.
Decide on an area that you would prefer to live in.
Take into consideration how long it will take to travel to university, and how much it will cost you. You might live right next to the campus or you could have a thirty-minute walk to get to your 9am lectures.
Decide on how many people you want to live with, and who those people are.
Take some time to think who you want to live with and how many people you’re going to be living with. People who you think might make good house mates could have you pulling your hair out by the end of the academic year. It is always plausible to live on your own if you wish.
Your Students’ Union Advice Centre can offer a helping hand if your mind has been melted by the confusing aspects of house hunting. The Union also has its own letting agency, GreenPad who are available to help you find a property that is suitable for you and your price range.
Staffordshire University Students’ Union and GreenPad have great links with the local police and work together to ensure the safety of all students. This also means that we do our very best to make sure that you are safe in your student home.
While you are viewing properties, you can always check a number of things to make sure your possible new home is safe:
- The doors and windows are in good condition.
- There are good locks on the front and back doors, including a deadlock night latch.
- All windows have locks.
- The property has a working burglar alarm that is regularly tested by the owner.
Perhaps the most important thing is that you feel safe in the area you are going to be living in, as you do not want to be worrying about the safety of yourself or your possessions during your time at University.
It is worthwhile checking that your landlord or letting agent is accredited by the Landlord Accreditation Scheme: North Staffordshire (LANS), which is a scheme that promotes good landlords who provide their tenants with safe, high quality accommodation.
To find out more information and advice on staying safe, please visit www.staffordshire.police.uk or www.saferstudents.co.uk, or alternatively speak to the Union Advice Centre, GreenPad or the Campus Police Officer Simon Stone.
Things to Consider When Moving
Once you have found your place of residence for the next year (or two) and you’ve been given the keys, you should consider doing a number of things that could make your life easier in the long run.
- Inform the relevant authorities of your change of address.
Let the university, the medical centre you are registered with, your bank (if you receive paper statements) and your friends and family of your new term time address. It may also be worth changing your address on websites such as Amazon to avoid sending packages to your old residence.
- Discuss things with your housemates.
Unless you’ve decided to live on your own, discussing things with your housemates could make things much easier for you. Putting your heads together and deciding how you’re going to pay your rent and bills, how you’ll collectively clean the house and general things to follow such as sound levels will make sure everyone will be happy.
- Make sure you have all the keys for your house.
Make sure that the landlord has left you with all of the relevant keys that you will need for the property. This means for the front door, the back door and windows, and even the garage if you’re lucky enough to have one.
- Arrange contents insurance for your belongings.
It is advisable to arrange contents insurance for your own belongings. The landlord should have already insured items that are already in the house and which are owned by them.
- Ask your landlord about Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP)
Check with your landlord that your deposit has been protected and what Tenancy Deposit Protection they have used. They should provide the information you’ve requested within 30 days of receiving your deposit. If you think that your landlord should have used a scheme but they have not, you can apply to a county court, where if the landlord is found to not have protected it, they can be ordered to repay it to you or place it in a scheme within 14 days.
- Read your meters and sort your bills.
As soon as you move in, make sure that you take a reading of your gas, electric and water meters to ensure that you only pay for the utilities that you have used from your time within the house. While doing this, you can find out which companies supply your gas, electricity and water and check your house contract to find out if it is your responsibility to contact them so that you can register yourselves as new tenants. This makes sure that everyone is responsible for paying bills.
- Take Photos of your new property.
Make sure to take photos of your new property and its contents when you move in. If you get these signed and dated by the landlord or letting agent and keep them safe as they can be used to clear up and disputes in the future.
- Get to know your neighbours.
A great idea is to get to know your neighbours, so try introducing yourself to them. Neighbours are an invaluable asset to you and your home. They may be more friendly to you and complain less if you are too loud because you were polite enough to introduce yourself and can also keep watch on the property when you might be away outside of term time.
- Find out about bin collection.
Ask your landlord about how regularly bins are collected and what kind of bins you’re expected to use. If there are a large amount of you living in the same house, you can always request more bins from the council if they get full too quickly and you can find out about recycling schemes as well.
Selecting Your Housemates
One of the major decisions you will have to make throughout this whole process is who you’re going to be living with. You can always choose to live on your own, which is great because you live by your own rules and you have to rely solely on yourself to make sure that the house is tidy and that the rubbish has been taken out. But at the same time, it also means that you are responsible for paying all the bills which could be a struggle. There’s also the chance you might get feel a little secluded due to not having someone nearby for a chat.
Living with a group is widely regarded as the popular option due to the fact that it works out cheaper to live, and it’s often more rewarding.
It’s often wise to make sure that you know as much about what a person is like before selecting a housemate to avoid unwarranted stress because they steal your food or play guitar in the early hours of the morning.
What if I want to move into the property on a weekend?
GreenPad’s office hours are generally Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. We do work on occasional weekends so please check with GreenPad if we will be working the weekend you require to move in.
If you have no choice but to move in on a weekend and we are not open, there are local hotels you can book into. A list can be found here.