There’s a lot of competition for student housing, and in the rush to secure a home for your next year it’s easy to overlook issues like finance and safety. But it’s important to find a home where you can feel safe and comfortable, and to be aware of your rights. So what should you ask your landlord before you move into a student home? There are a lot of questions to ask, but be sure to check the following …
Find out everything about the financial issues. How much will the deposit be? Are bills included in the rent? If everyone in the house is a student, you should be exempt from council tax. Be wary if the landlord wants payment in cash; paying by bank transfer means that there is a record of your payments.
Check what happens if one of your housemates moves out. Will the rest of you be responsible for covering the rent until you find a replacement? Will you have to advertise for a new housemate, or will the landlord find someone? You may prefer to be able to choose the new person yourselves. Your parents will probably have to act as guarantors, so they will want to know where they stand, and if they will be liable for the extra rent should one of the housemates stop paying.
You might be more interested in how close the house is to the pubs, and how big your room is, but it’s important to live in a home that’s safe. Ask the landlord when the gas safety checks were last done, and ask to see the certificates. Also look for a smoke alarm and CO2 detector. If your landlord doesn’t bother with these things, walk away – it’s not worth risking your life.
In the rush to find a home, don’t neglect to check the contract carefully. It might be a boring legal document, but you should read it through and familiarise yourself with the contents. You’re signing a legal document, and should know all the details. This will avoid any nasty surprises later on, and help you avoid any unscrupulous landlords.
You don’t want to give your landlord any excuses for retaining your deposit, so ask them what you will have to do to get your deposit back at the end of your stay. Get their requirements in writing; they may want the house professionally cleaned. They should carry out an inventory when you move in and at the end of your contract; check it very carefully and query anything you don’t agree with.
Whether it’s the landlord themselves, or an agent, you need to know who to contact when there’s a water leak or the front door is stuck. Have their number saved in your phone. Know your rights if they avoid fixing any problems – you don’t want to be stuck without hot water or heating in winter.
We know it happens, it happens when you go on holiday, it happens when you go to visit friends – you forget things. But what’s in the top ten? What ten things do students always forget and end up rushing to the 24 Hour Tesco to buy?
Here’s what students told us:
That’s right, you might not have a dishwasher, so you’re going to have to wash those dishes yourself. And where do you put them? Well one of those plastic drainer things are absolutely ideal because they give you the excuse to say “they’re drying”. And you know what? Air drying is the best way. Far better than drying with that filthy tea-towel, anyway.
Oh yeah, you’ll need tons of this stuff. Keep a few rolls in the toilet itself, too. So many times we’ve (cough) heard of students who do their business and then turn to notice there’s no toilet roll left.
You can use the excuse that the bottle opener is for the milk. But when was the last time you had milk with a cap on it? No, doesn’t wash. You need the bottle opener for your beer bottles because trying to open beer with your belt leads to sharp glass and trips to hospitals. Seriously, tell your parents it’s the safest way.
And the corkscrew? Well, you’ll be entertaining guests won’t you? Like your parents? Of course you will.
Your student house will become filthy. Of course it will, it’ll stink if left alone for more than a few days and the beauty of furniture polish is that it also makes a place smell great. So keep some by and if you have visitors coming round, spray it into the air.
I mean, what you should really be doing is cleaning the furniture, but in the absence of enough time (or, like, Pointless is on) then just spray it in the air. The house will smell fresh as a daisy. Or lavender.
Where else are you going to dump all those pizza boxes?
Remember, though, some councils want you to separate your recyclables, so keep them in different bags.
Oh yeah, for when the phone runs out of juice.
Now, this is an interesting one. You can get a safe for about 50 quid, but why would you need one? Well let’s face it, you’re about to live with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, who’s to know if one of them isn’t a complete lying thief? I’m sure they’re not, but…
Ask your landlord before you bolt it to the floor though.
Oh, and yes, they do sell them in Tesco.
In fact, cans of any easy-to-cook food are useful to keep by because there are going to be times when you just need food NOW, and you really can’t afford to eat out again. Also, they last forever.
Absolutely the most useful thing to have at any time. A torch with charged batteries is essential. If your parents are asking what they can buy you, ask for a torch. Get a MagLite because they’re almost indestructible.
Because you’re in Britain. It’s the best drink ever. It just is, no arguments.
Let’s face it, you’re about to leave the comfort of a big house and spend the next few years of your life in one room. You better make that room pretty special or you’re going to get bored really quickly.
Here are a few ideas that might just help!
How about a fish tank, that’s also a plant pot? Awesome eh? This does both!
This three gallon tank has some pretty neat features. For example, if you’re a student, you’re not going to have time to be worry about cleaning it, no, you’ll be spending your time revising, working, drinking etc. So, this tank cleans itself! The fish waste feeds the plants, the plants clean the water. Awesome!
Just remember to feed the fish, yeah? Buy from Amazon for £65.99
Those little earbud things you got with your smartphone are OK, but they’re not very good in a noisy environment. Nope, they let in too much chatter and if you have room-mates that like to talk, that means you’re not going to be able to enjoy your music in peace. Noise cancelling headphones are expensive though aren’t they?
These from Sony weigh in at just under £30 and have noise-cancelling built in. They give superb sound, to-boot. Again, Amazon is your friend!
OK, so you want everyone in the room to hear your music taste? Easy peasy, check these out:
Looks great, sounds great and available in a bunch of colours to suit your mood with both Bluetooth and wired connectivity. Only £24.99 from ByteMyTech
Want to keep tabs on who’s going into your bedroom when you’re not there? How about this?
This odd looking thing is actually a baby monitor, but it’s got an amazing feature – you view it through your mobile phone or tablet! It also has night-vision and can detect movement and inform you straight away.
£86.49 from Byte My Tech
You’re probably going to have to cook then, so how about getting kitted out with your own set of pans?
There’s everything you need to make omelettes and beans on toast. Let’s face it, that’s all you’ll be cooking. £33.99 from Amazon.
It’s a big decision when you decide to move away from home to work, however we wouldn’t recommend doing what this person did, although we do admire him!
Evan Eames, a 24-year-old astrophysics student from Canada, took to websites Reddit and Gumtree to explain his accommodation woes. As an international student he was required to pay £20k for his fees, and found himself short of cash for his rent.
It wasn’t long before he received an offer from good Samaritan, Charley Mantack, 34, who spotted an opportunity. In exchange for maths and physics tutoring for her exams, she allowed him to camp in her Stockport garden for 10 months.
He was there the whole time come wind, rain or snow. And there can be a lot of that in Manchester…
It can’t help with revision though, so we’d always recommend trying to find good accommodation, first!
When you first move into your student accommodation, you’re going to be faced with two very important and very daunting issues. Firstly, the cost. You may be used to your parents picking up the tab for everything you do. Food, going out, holidays, they paid for everything. Sure, you may have had a paper round so you can feed your Xbox with new games now and then, but the big things? They covered.
As soon as you move away you’re going to have to buy food, pay for the cinema, beer, more food, newspapers, Internet access, the list goes on.
The second thing that many students face is loneliness. There’s a chance you’ll be moving into accommodation with others and you’ll be able to make friends quickly. Thing is, if you’re in a room in small house and there aren’t many others around, it could be difficult to make friends.
So, get a job.
Only part-time, you won’t have the hours in the day to do anymore, but it will help you by giving you extra money to spend on the luxuries in life, but you’ll also be meeting a lot of people. Many students choose to get a bar job or work in a restaurant, and these can bring other benefits.
One of the best skills you can acquire and build on in life is the ability to talk to others. Social skills are critical in business and customer facing skills like being “front of house” in a restaurant can really help. Dale Carnegie, one of the best businessmen of his time, said that most of success is down to how we deal with people. Treat them well, get them to like you, and you will be successful.
Working at a young age with people who are demanding can be an excellent life skill to learn, and if you deal with it well, you can use this forever more.
How to get a job
Ask around, check university notice boards, pop into restaurants and ask. You’ll find the best jobs are the ones you have to seek out and work for. Those that are handed to you on a plate will probably pay less, be more demanding and much less fulfilling.
Also, ask others who already have a job. Someone out there will be working somewhere that they absolutely love. Ask them if there are other jobs available, what the working conditions are like and importantly, the pay.
Don’t expect the best, but don’t suffer the worst
Some places will be looking to squeeze the most out of you as possible. They’ll be trying to get you to do as much as possible for as little pay as they can. You have a choice: put up with it and take the money, or do something about it.
While I’m not one to say you should be upsetting the applecart for the sake of it, you should certainly ensure your employer isn’t breaking the law or being exploitative. It’s your responsibility to not only walk away from such work but also report it.
Being a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be respected, but you should also expect to do a lot of hard work. Life isn’t easy, it’s most certainly very hard, and here is where you’ll learn the valuable life skills that will serve you well in the future.
Having fun this summer doesn’t mean breaking the bank. There are plenty of cheap, and even free ways to enjoy your holidays.
You don’t have to spend your whole summer stacking shelves, but consider applying for a part-time job to fund your activities. Supermarkets and high street stores are often on the look out for students to work part-time over the holidays. It might not be the most stimulating way to spend your time, but it can be a great way to make new friends. The best bit is, while you’re working, you won’t be spending any money – you’ll be making it! You might even get a decent staff discount.
From the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to the Caerphilly Big Cheese Festival, there are tons of free festivals to visit across the UK. Just search online for free festivals in your area, and you might be surprised by how many are taking place. Another option is to volunteer as a steward at one of the bigger festivals, such as Glastonbury. You’ll get in for free, in return for helping out. Take a look at Oxfam’s website for more information.
Did you know you can get paid to visit restaurants, go shopping, or watch a film at the cinema? If you become a mystery shopper, you’ll get your expenses paid for and you might even pocket a small fee for your troubles. There are a few websites out there to choose from; two of the most popular are Market Force and the Mystery Dining Company. All they usually ask is that you fill in a questionnaire afterwards to describe your experience.
If you’re travelling around the UK this summer, make sure you have a 16-25 railcard. It costs £30 a year, and gets you a third off ticket prices. So you’re likely to get your money back in the savings from just one train journey. You can even get a free railcard with some student bank accounts.
If you’re keen to travel over the summer, find a way to make it pay. You could work in an American summer camp, become a holiday rep, or teach English overseas. If you’re not so keen to work with children, why not apply to work with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
Students have a pretty rough time as it is, what with having to pay tuition fees, but luckily there is some help available, depending on your current income of course.
As with most things these days, how much money you can get is means tested so that those with the least can get the most. The aim here is obviously to make things fairer so that students with wealthy parents don’t get as much help as those whose parents are struggling.
For example, if you or your parents are earning around £25,000 per year with no other dependencies you can get a grant for just over £3,300.
Also, you may get a loan for your tuition fees of up to £9,000 and a maintenance loan of around £4,000. There’s also potentially extra help if you plan to take a course in medical, teaching or social work but you need to apply separately for these.
What do these mean?
First of all, you need to be aware that there’s a difference between a grant and a loan. If you qualify for a grant then the money’s yours to keep and use for your living costs and you don’t have to pay it back. A loan is exactly that, you need to pay it back eventually.
The politics of why people struggle with this has been writ large all over the press, but the fact is, many people have found themselves struggling to pay back their loans when they eventually get to work.
Grants are different, though. If you manage to qualify then you don’t have to pay that back, but check the conditions of the grant from the issuing authority. You may find that they have to be paid directly to a particular body rather than into your bank account.
For more information, check out the government website: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-calculator
Anyone who’s been a student and lived away from home will know that it’s far more than just gaining an education, it’s also a life experience that will never be equalled. However, it can be a shock to the system because suddenly there are important deadlines.
Sure, when at school you had to get your homework in on time, but it was never so important that your future life really depended on it. But with all the work you’ll be expected to do on a degree course, it’s essential you get it done right and in when it’s supposed to be.
However, it seems many students have a whole range of excuses for not getting things done right now.
We’re adults now, yeah? And we can look after ourselves and our bodies! Of course we can, however more lies!!
Sorry I can’t come home this weekend, I have a lot of studying to do
I suppose it sets us up right for life though!
If you’re planning to head off to university and live in student accommodation, it can be both an exciting and daunting time for parents and students alike.
For students it can be a time to relish in the freedom that living away will bring. Nights out without having to call back home every ten minutes and being able to eat whatever they like whenever they like. Although, let’s face it, it’s likely to be Pot Noodle every night with a bottle of Tesco lager.
Of course, living away from home has one major downfall that probably won’t be apparent until it’s too late. You see, when you’re at home, your parents pretty much do everything for you. They clean, they feed, they water you. Suddenly you have to do it all yourself and the panic sets in! Do you use a plastic scouring pad or a metal one? Do I vacuum under the furniture? How do clothes get clean?
And just as you’re cooking a slap up meal for you and your house-mates you realise you haven’t got a colander. Nuts. What next?