The Exposed Guide to Student House Hunting
Waking up in a park wearing someone else's pants might just pip it, but finding a new place to live with your new chums is one of the most exciting parts of being a student…
However, when questions arise such as 'Who will I live with?' and, 'Where will we go?' it can suddenly turn into a daunting and overwhelming task. But fret not! We've teamed up with the lovely people at Sheffield Hallam University to help ease the anguish with a 'simple' five point guide to finding your way.
STEP 1 – WHEN DO I LOOK?
Nowadays many students will have already started looking for accommodation in November for the following academic year. But don’t panic if you’ve not decided yet! It’s still possible to find accommodation of a good standard throughout the academic year. Often, if you wait until late on, landlords may reduce rent levels or offer reduced rates for the summer if they still have vacancies…
STEP 2 – WHO DO I LIVE WITH
Finding the right people to share with is just as important as finding the right property – after all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them – so don’t rush into making a decision. Be aware that friendships and personal circumstances can change over the course of a year. If you sign a contract too early, you could find yourself in a position where you no longer wish to share with the same group of people, and once you have signed a contract it can be extremely difficult to get out of. You’ll not normally be released from a contract unless you’ve found a suitable replacement tenant.
STEP 3 – WHICH ACCOMMODATION DO I CHOOSE?
Lots of options here from Uni accommodation to bedsits…
i). Uni accommodation is the most popular choice for first years as it’s the easiest way to meet new people who are all in the same boat. However, it is also a good option for returning students as you can choose where you live. You can be allocated with other returners, or you can choose to live with friends – there are even houses that can accommodate up to 10 students. Hallam University's website has more info.
ii). Shared accommodation is the most popular form of private accommodation. Everyone lives together like some kind of weird family with joint responsibility for the rent and utility bills.
iii). A flat-share is a good option for students who’ve not formed a group. Bedrooms in the property are separately let to individual students with shared use of the living room, kitchen and bathroom. Therefore, each student is responsible for their own rent and joint responsibility for the utility bills.
iv). Self-contained flats/studios are another extremely popular form of housing for both single and student families/couples. This accommodation can be costly and in short supply tho…
v). Bedsits are popular with your starry-eyed James Dean loner types. Each unit usually consists of a bedroom with a kitchen area and a shared bathroom.
vi). Homestays have experienced a bit of resurgence recently. That's where a home owner lets part of their home to students. The usual arrangement is for the owner to let a bedroom in their property, with shared use of the kitchen, bathroom and possibly the living room.
vii). Lodgings are generally provided by local families and are similar to accommodation with a resident owner but includes the provision of meals.
STEP 4 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
The general consensus is the closer you live to University, the more rent you’ll pay – but don't sacrifice quality for location. Here's a few locales to scout out…
Broomhill – A popular area for students due to its close proximity to Sheffield University with excellent local facilities
Ecclesall Road/Hunter's Bar is a hub for the student social scene and nightlife. It boasts hundreds of pubs, wine bars, restaurants and cafes. Hunters Bar is a fashionable and dynamic suburb at the top of Ecclesall Road and hosts many shops, good pubs, places to eat, a 24 hour store and a supermarket.
Sharrow offers some of Sheffield’s best-value centrally located housing – a large number of which are rented to students.
West Street/Devonshire Quarter/City Centre is close to both universities, here you can enjoy all the amenities of the city centre on your doorstep. Accommodation is mainly purpose built en-suite flats of a high
Crookesmoor/Commonside are both popular areas due to their close proximity to Sheffield University, there’s a good range of shops nearby and the accommodation is mainly flats or shared houses for groups of four or more – as well as a few bedsits/studio flats.
Broomhall is extremely close to Sheffield University with a few small corner shops nearby, the accommodation is mainly flats or shared houses for larger groups of five or more, along with a few bedsits/studio flats.
Crookes has excellent local facilities – with plenty of shops, take-aways, pubs and a great late night bus route.
Walkley is a little further from Sheffield University, Walkley offers a good range of shops and pubs. Rent is a bit cheaper than close by areas and normally have a reduced rate over the summer period.
Highfields is a great central location based around London Road with just a 10 minute walk into town and Sheffield Hallam University. .
Nether Edge is a residential suburb in the southwest of the city centre is in close proximity to both Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road meaning that amenities are close-by.
Set amongst the leafy parkland on the outskirts of the town centre, Norfolk Park this area offers city style living in a more peaceful setting.
STEP 5 – SIGN ME UP!
Never sign a contract unless you have read and understood it. Contracts can be confusing and full of legal jargon. If possible get your contract checked at the Student Advice Centre to make sure you know what you are being asked to sign is fair. Most reasonable landlords will give you a copy of a contract to look over and not rush you in to signing it. Remember that verbal agreements can also create a binding contract, but without a written record disputes can be more difficult to resolve. Do not pay a deposit or any other money over to any letting agents in Sheffield until you have viewed the property, checked the contract and are sure that you want to live there.
Ask the current tenants if there have been any problems with the house or difficulties with the landlord/agent. This may be difficult if the landlord is present but tenants can usually warn you of any pitfalls or reassure you that it would be a good move.
For your own safety, never view a property alone and preferably visit the property in daylight so you can have a good look around the outside of the property.
If you are part of a group, make sure everyone views the property and agrees that it is suitable, before a contract is signed or you pay a deposit.