If you’ve just started your first year of university, picking your student housing outside of halls might seem like a lifetime away.
But trust me when we say it comes round fast! Before you know it you’ll be joining the thousands of other desperate students fighting off the competition to find your perfect home.
While the mad rush can often pressure people into making snap decisions, forcing them to sign a contract before they’ve really had a chance to consider their options. But once you've signed on the dotted line, your fate is sealed, so it's important to have a few key things to look out for when doing the rounds.
These are easy to look over when you're caught up the excitement of house viewings, but they will cost you in the long run.
A lot of the places you’re viewing will likely be older buildings and, in some cases, not particularly well maintained. This can leave them susceptible to damp.
Not only does it look horrible and can warp your walls, it is also incredibly dangerous. Damp and black mould can cause serious health problems, such as coughing and sneezing, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches. People with asthma or respiratory problems are especially susceptible.
Make sure you check the walls and ceiling, especially around windows and in the corners of rooms where damp commonly occurs. Look out for peeling paint or wallpaper. And ask to look behind wardrobes as landlords may try and hide the evidence.
Black spots near the window are a tell-tale sign of damp. Source: Imagentle/Shutterstock
Almost everyone falls for this one at some point. You find the perfect house and jump at the chance to get the contract signed before testing out the shower and taps.
As mentioned, these places may not be maintained to the highest standards so good water pressure might be a pipe dream (pun intended!)
Test out the shower in particular. When you’re sharing a big house and your housemates are taking ages in the shower because there’s only a dribble of water, you’ll regret not checking this out before moving in.
Infestations are not uncommon in student housing and once you get one it can turn your life upside down.
Often due to the poor standards of previous tenants, student houses are susceptible to unwanted critters, including cockroaches, bed bugs, slugs, mice - you get the picture, nothing nice.
Landlords will understandably go out of their way to hide this during viewings but don’t be afraid to look in cupboards and inspect wooden headboards for any tell-tale signs like droppings, or holes.
Watch out for unwanted critters. Infestations are common in student housing. Source: Zuzha/Shutterstock
Similar to the shower point, check that light fittings and electrical appliances are in full working order as you make your way around the house.
If you’re going to be sharing with friends, bear in mind that appliances will have to cater to all of you so make sure they’re up to the task. A mini-bar-sized fridge ain’t gonna cut it in a house of six.
Getting appliances that are energy-efficient can also make a huge difference to your electricity bills which, in a shared house, can be an absolute killer for students.
You also want to make sure everything is safe with no loose wires or dodgy looking plug sockets.
While there’s nothing like looking around a beautifully furnished, fully decked out house to get you excited about the next step in your life. It can be a nasty shock when you move in to find the place gutted.
Make sure you double check with the landlord exactly what’s included in the inventory and what you’ll need to bring along yourself.
No one wants to be sleeping on the floor on their first night in a new home.