So, you’ve gotten a place at a De Montfort University or Leicester University and are intending to live in the city centre or nearby. There’s a few things you probably want to know and consider when selecting a place to live at;
Leicesters student housing situation is a rather strange one, many student accommodations are being built yet prices tend to stay the same or even increase. Normally when a market becomes oversaturated prices drop to compete for the business, but Leicester…(sigh) doesn’t seem to work that way.
There’s been a few large accommodation companies that have established themselves in Leicester (CODE, Derwent etc to name a few.), they are widely advertised and therefore easy for students to contact and book. DMU has a very large foreign student intake who will obviously be unfamiliar with the area and book with such big places (alongside UK students), as they do not know their other options or even in a few cases haven’t gotten a grasp of the value of money here so will think they are getting a good deal. What some don’t realise is that there is better value accommodation out there. Some of these studio accommodations are so small that an average sized person can reach their arms out and touch both sides of the room, yet pay from £100-135 a week.
For that price, you could rent a whole two bedroomed house in Leicester (at around £50-67 per room). There’s a lot of private housing available in the area, a galore of terraced houses (many with gardens) that are much cheaper than these large lettings companies. Some of these even have all inclusive bill deals too if you’re worried about sorting out and opening utility accounts. Another plus (more for the city than yourself but), is that money is going to local property owners, which consequently goes back into the city’s economy. Larger companies that develop and sell accommodation are more likely to funnel this money into more builds elsewhere outside of your city. In theory, if more people were to rent student accommodation from private independent landlords then these large companies SHOULD be compelled to drop their prices to a more realistic amount.
Sure, you may want the ‘student experience’ and live in halls but make sure you find a decent one where you aren’t being ripped off and find some friends to live in a house the years after your first year (you’ll still get the experience but have more money to go out and do whatever you want).
Now onto when you’ve booked your accommodation…..
These are very important things you need to do and may be common sense but will really save your backside from being ripped off:
-Take photos of EVERYTHING the day you move in, and I mean everything. Pretend you’re a 360-degree camera and do that in EVERY ROOM. This is your own visual inventory with a timestamp included if you are questioned about a damage when leaving. (This may be preferable for non-native English speakers if they struggle writing a written inventory). Photos are always good to show if your landlord gave the house to you clean, and if not you can dispute it with the agency or landlord.
-Make sure you list every…little…thing on your written inventory. No matter how stupid and minuscule it is, list it and be specific, vagueness can be a blessing and a curse that can backfire so make sure you be as accurate as you can. This alongside photos is very helpful. If you do miss anything, normally you can tell the agents within a week or so of moving in and they’ll take note of it.
-Written communication is useful/important if you’ve had to go into your lettings agency to complain or raise concerns about something is that you also have written record/confirmation. Whether that be a text or an email, as long as its something that can be recorded and timestamped. This is just to prove you’ve told them what you have in case they try to be untruthful and deny you did (which is easy to do if it was only spoken).
-When leaving, make sure you leave the place ‘as you found it’ and dispose of any rubbish properly (if you leave stuff out of bins you can get fined by the council) as lettings companies will charge you an unreasonable price for the removal of things as simple as a plastic bag. Also take pictures of the place when you leave once again, in case anything happens in between the time you leave and the agent looks over the house or the landlord tries to deny you left it in a decent condition.
-Remember you can always challenge your deposit if the agent/landlord tries to take it or an amount of it. In the UK the landlord/agent has to put your deposit in a deposit scheme which keeps your deposit safe with a third party, so if your deposit is going to be taken from you then you can challenge this (this is where the photos come in to help you) and the third party will look at the evidence to decide whether it is correct to take the deposit or not. Different schemes vary and have different procedures you would have to look into but the agent should be able to provide you with some sort of code or ID number for where your deposit is being kept.
-Cancel any letters or bills attached to your address, you don’t want to be charged for a bill when you aren’t still living there or not receive general letters because you forgot to change the address. Theres been instances of bailiffs going around to student houses after someone who used to live there because they’ve not changed their address which can be quite scary.