It’s finally over. After all that hard work in your SSCE Examination, and passing all those back breaking Jamb burdensome, it’s time to move out of your parent home, and move into your first student house. But what should you look out for, and what must you know when choosing student accommodation for the next academic year?
There’s hundreds, if not thousands of options on the market when it comes to student housing; double bedrooms, properties with gardens, recently renovated. But what else should you think about when searching for the perfect student house?
Luckily, we’ve put together a list of key things to look out for when searching for a student property.
What's in this guide?
1. Who to live with?
It’s finally time to decide who you’re going to live with for the next year – but who should you choose? Just because you can go out for a drink with someone, or have a laugh and a joke with them in lectures, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a walk in the park to live with.
Before you sign on the dotted line, or even consider viewing student properties, you must consider if you actually want to live with these chosen housemates. Everyone has their own living habits, so it’s worth finding out a little bit more about your potential student housemates’ expectations for next year. Will there be a cleaning rota? How will you live together? And most importantly, how often do they want to party? If their way of living sounds like your idea of hell, then it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to have a very long, and difficult year ahead.
2. What about the bills?
Ahh, money problems…. the kryptonite for every single student. But what about the bills? It’s very likely that most, if not all, of your maintenance loan is going to be swallowed up by rent. So you’ve got to be prepared. Before viewing a property, it’s worth finding out how you and your potential housemates are going to pay the bills.
Will you have to pay more rent for a bigger bedroom? That’s the main question on students minds when booking a student house. In our experience, students usually split the rent equally as they rarely spend time in their rooms, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right answer for you. Before you progress with your room booking, make sure you decide on how the rent will be split.
Warning: if you do decide to split the rent unevenly, make sure everyone has committed to the agreed situation (preferably in writing) before you sign a contract.
3. Have you viewed the property?
It might sound like a given, but you should view the property before booking it if possible. Trust me, we at AidTheStudent.com see plenty of students trying to book properties without viewing them, and sometimes it can end in disaster. So make sure you’re actually attending the student property and checking it thoroughly before booking it. If you’re not able to attend to view the student property, suggest a Skype viewing or at least extensive photos to make an informed decision.
Also, there’s no shame in asking mum and dad to pop around the property and take a look. They’ve most likely bought or rented properties before, and will know what to look out for when viewing somewhere.
Your heart might be set on booking a certain student property, but we recommend viewing a couple before rushing into making a decision. Think about it, when buying clothing, you wouldn’t choose the first thing you see; you’d try a couple on first. So why do it when viewing a house? Compare the properties you have viewed; how much is the rent, the location of the property, and how close it is to transport routes to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. There is a fine line though between making an informed decision, and going over the top and viewing hundreds of different student properties. Think about the current tenants, and try and cause as little disruption to them as possible.
When you’re viewing the property, there’s plenty of things to look out for. Check out our student property viewing checklist. to ensure you miss nothing at your property viewings.
4. How will you get to university?
If there’s one thing Channel 4 has taught us over the years, it’s Location, Location, Location. No matter how great a student property is, if every lecture is going to require a three-hour journey to get to your lectures, then it’s likely not the right house for you.
Before you book a student house, make sure you take note of public transport stops on Google Maps, travel routes, and how long it will take to get to your university. In reality, the closer you can get to your campus, the better.
When it’s time to get to that all-important 9 AM lecture, or late evening seminar, you will really appreciate the shorter travel journeys and hopefully your grades will reflect that!
5. Have you checked the tenancy contract?
Don’t forget that renting a student house is a legally binding contract, and you will be forced to comply with the terms and conditions you sign to. We recommend reading through your tenancy agreement, and perhaps getting someone with experience of renting to check it over too, to make sure everything is clear and reasonable.
It might sound a little excessive, but if you’re a couple of months into your rental agreement and you spot mould appearing inside the property, you’ll be very grateful that your letting agreement covers you.
6. What about security?
Student populated areas are usually a hotspot for burglars; so ensure that your student rental property has appropriate security features fitted.
When viewing the student property, it’s important to look out for locks on the doors and windows, burglar alarms, and whether there’s a neighbourhood watch programme.
The level of security will not only protect your belongings, it will also have a huge impact on your insurance. If possible, we recommend getting in touch before going to the property to find out which security features will have a positive (or negative) impact on your insurance policy.
Tenant insurance will give you peace of mind as it will protect your contents from theft or damage. It’s really important to protect your belongings as soon as you move into a student property, especially if the property is empty during the day.
We’ve teamed up with security specialists to find out three unique security concerns for students.
7. Water Suppy
Conducive living facilities for students across the country constitute a vital requirement for a smooth education experience in universities. Sadly, with the number of admission seekers, and even with the seemingly low figure of those who are eventually admitted, many universities don’t seem adequately equipped to accommodate the students, leaving them to resort to off-campus alternatives.
However, with the reports from across the country, the available facilities within the campuses in some schools don’t even seem habitable enough for humans. From Abuja to Lagos to Ibadan and even to Enugu in the South-East, the reports are a mix of good, bad and the downright ugly.
When your choosing your apartment at uni, make sure you take your time to look for a place where they have water.
Despite the obvious connection between electricity and educational achievement, however, the troubling scenes in Nigeria, are repeated in thousands and thousands of homes, organizations, hospitals, and and student hostel is not excepted across this noesis. As student always laments, in the educational community, “we focus largely on pedagogy and little on access to energy”. When choosing choosing an apartment to rent consider a place with an head start on electricity. watch out for a soon to be written article about electrify in student hostel.
9. Do you need parking?
This may not concern all university students, but if a few of your potential housemates have cars, think about where you can park. Some properties may have space or two, but what happens if you don’t have available parking or a drive? Have a look whether you will park on the road and how busy it is, or the local parking signage as you may require parking permits.