The best way to tackle the housing market is to know exactly what you want. Paul Harris is the Accommodation Services Manager at Anglia Ruskin University. He says fundamental issues include "who you want to live with, where you want to live, what facilities you require and how much you can afford to pay".
Finding the ideal house may prove time consuming but, with thousands of pounds at stake, it's worth doing properly. Not only does the property have to come up to scratch but so does its owner. Although Paul says "it is increasingly difficult for rogue landlords to operate", there are still precautions you can take against being ripped off. His top tip is to "make sure whatever they promise (such as major refurbishments) is confirmed in writing".
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Of course, contracts work both ways. Nicky Blanning, from the University of Cambridge Accommodation Service, says "the most important thing is to check the tenancy agreement". That's because they can "commit people to almost any kind of repair, rather than just internal decoration and looking after the furniture".
Renting has its dangers but it's worth keeping them in perspective. It's also worth recognising the law is increasingly on the customer's side. Nicky says, as of this tax year, "tenancy deposits are now protected" so no dodgy dealer can just walk off with your money. Should anyone try it on, she recommends "going to a local Housing Aid office, or to the Citizen's Advice Bureau".
The day you set foot in your first house can be quite exciting as it's the moment you take responsibility for your own life. The word "responsibility" is especially important as you have to start putting the right bins out on the right day, and a number of laws will start to affect you. For instance, if you don't have a TV license, Paul says "there are significant penalties for non-compliance".
Finding a home can be tiring, it can be confusing, but if you do it properly, it can be very satisfying.