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24 September 2014
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House hunting in Leicestershire
Students studying.
It is important that you get the right place to live - below is some information to help you.
After much thinking, you may opt for the 'suck it and see option' of finding your own private accommodation.

Below are some things you may want to take into account whilst seeking your student pad
SEE ALSO
Welcome to Leicestershire
Out and about in Leicestershire
Eating out on £15
Nightlife in Leicester
Renting in Leicestershire
Student life at various universities
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House hunting tips
The pitfalls of finding a home to rent in Leicestershire are numerous and can be expensive.

Once you’ve worked out how many people you’re looking for a house with, you’re in a position to start contacting landlords and view properties.

The Student Housing Office doesn’t visit, check or approve any of the properties they advertise, so you need to be on the alert.

All students take on accommodation at their own risk. If you’re unfamiliar with renting privately, you should be aware of the following:

  • When you rent - either in a group or on your own, you’re entering into a legal agreement
  • While the majority of landlords are honest, some may not be honourable. It’s in your best interest to read all the fine print and be cautious.
  • There is plenty of accommodation for all students in Leicester, even in an emergency. So, don’t rush into accepting a property.
  • Most property is furnished, but you’ll need to bring bedding, crockery and kitchen utensils. And don’t forget the TV licence.
    Terraced street
    You will be looking for the best deal you can - but be aware that you get the right kind of housing for you
  • Don’t take the first place you see. The standard of accommodation varies considerably, so it’s likely to take a short time to become acquainted with what to expect for your money.
  • Remember to negotiate. Most landlords are willing to negotiate over rent and improvements. The best time to do this is BEFORE you sign the contract.
  • Check for signs of damp, bad heating, poor insulation and condensation. Although it will be warm when you start house hunting, come winter, the story will be different. Try to imagine what the property will be like in winter.
  • Check the gas and electric appliances. Check for signs of suspect wiring and faulty gas appliances and make sure the landlord supplies you with a copy of a current gas certificate, which can only be issued by a CORGI registered engineer.
  • If your landlord promises to have repairs or alterations carried out before you move in, make sure you they put it in writing. By doing this, the chances of jobs actually being done (and on time) are significantly improved.
  • Although the academic year runs for about nine months, you may be asked to commit to a 12 month tenancy agreement. You could use this point to negotiate a reduced rate of rent while you aren’t occupying the property.

When viewing a property, you might find the following checklist valuable:
1. Ask the landlord/agent to see a currently valid gas safety certificate. This is a legal requirement.

2. Check to see if all of the furniture and furnishings are fire resistant. This is a legal requirement.

Settee
Check to make sure the things in your new home are up to scratch and suit you

3. Check that the house has enough furniture for all of you. If the house is for four people, does it have four beds? Can you seat four people comfortably in the sitting room?

4. Is there central heating? Is there gas or electricity? And does it work. Ask the landlord to show you how it operates.

5. Do all of the windows open? Are any of the window panes cracked or broken? Are the window frames in good condition?

6. Check the walls for dampness. You may like to move furniture placed against a wall and look for dampness behind it - it may have deliberately been positioned there to cover a damp area.

7. Do the rooms need decorating? If the rooms do need decorating, who is going to do it and who is going to pay for it? Remember to ask the landlord to put in writing any promises she/he may make regarding repairs and redecoration.

Garden.
Check to see if the garden and surrounding areas are tidy and habitable

8. Are you happy with the security of the property? Ideally, two bolts, one at the top and another at the bottom of the front and back doors will make the doors difficult to force open. Check to see if the ground floor windows have locks as well.

9. Ask who will be responsible for cleaning the windows, tidying the garden and cutting the lawn.

11. Are you happy with the rent that is being asked of you? If you’re not happy, negotiate.

12. Who will be paying the water rates?

13. How much deposit is the landlord asking for? If the landlord is asking for more than £150, think again, More than £150 is too much.

14. Look outside the property. Is the garden neat and tidy? Has the house been maintained to a reasonable standard? Does the outside of the property need painting? Is the woodwork sound? Can you lock the back gate - does it need repairing? Has the landlord provided a dustbin or wheelie bin? Can you see the drain properly?

15. If there are tenants in the house, ask them what the landlord is like. Ask if maintenance and repairs are carried out quickly and if they are a reasonable person to deal with. Ask if there have been any problems with the landlord previously.

After you’ve checked these points, ask yourself if you like the house. If you do, then you’re ready to proceed. If you don’t like the house, tell the agent/landlord and walk away.

Don’t be pressured into renting a property you’re not sure about. If you agree to rent a property, the landlord or agent will be keen for you to sign an agreement and pay money immediately. Look over the contract.

Do you agree to the terms and conditions set out in the contract? A reasonable landlord will give you 24 hours to consider a contract.

Take the contract to the Student Housing Office or the Welfare and Education Centre in the Student Union to have it checked over.

Remember - don’t sign or pay money unless you are totally happy with the contractual arrangement and make sure you get a copy of the contract.

Your responsibilities as a tenant
It’s easy to think that the landlord is the only one who has to act in a responsible manner. But, the same is expected of you at the tenant. You will need to:

1. Pay your rent as it is due

2. Show respect for the property and contents

3. Show respect for other tenants and neighbours - noise is a common cause of disputes

4. Allow the landlord access (which is usually arranged by appointment) to carry out maintenance

5. Only make alterations to the property with the landlord’s approval

6. Given written notice to your landlord if you wish to leave (remember - this must be in accordance with your tenancy agreement)

7. Make sure you don’t take in lodgers

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