The Welfare Officer, Beren Maddison, is urging students to not bow to peer pressure and to take their time when house-hunting over the next few weeks
Following the first Housing Information Fair of the year on Wednesday 6 November, he has highlighted the support which the Students’ Union can offer to students looking to sign for houses, or looking for housemates.
“House-hunting can be really stressful, regardless of whether it’s your first time looking or you’ve rented before,” he said.
“There’s loads of important things to consider, such as your price range for rent and bills, who you choose to live with, your ideal location and house size, so finding a property that ticks all the boxes can feel really challenging.
“It doesn’t help that there’s pressure on students to sign for next year’s house early in the year, as this makes it really easy to end up signing for a house you’re not happy in or with people you don’t like.”
In order to help students find properties that suit them, the SU runs two Housing Information Fairs a year, where high-standard letting agents are invited to give more information to students about their properties.
Students can also use the fairs as an opportunity to learn more about the support the Students’ Union offers, including checking over any contracts before you sign them and helping to navigate any disputes which may arise during a tenancy.
Each year, the SU also produces its Smart Move information guide, detailing when students should start looking, what they should be looking for in a tenancy, and common pitfalls to avoid. There has been an active effort on the part of the Students’ Union in recent years to encourage students to not rush into signing contracts, and to give more time for looking.
Some letting agents which don’t meet the high standards of the Students’ Union, especially those who aren’t registered with the Smartmove or SNUG accreditation schemes, often aren’t invited to Housing Information Fairs, and Beren warned students off these.
“You won’t necessarily have a bad experience with these agents, but with the SNUG scheme and Smartmove, you can be more confident that you’re signing with a trustworthy landlord and getting a high-quality property,” he said.
“No matter who students choose to sign with, they can always contact the Student Advice Centre for help and advice on how to deal with issues that come up during the led.”
Certain student groups also help to educate students on housing issues, including Welfare Committee, with it being one of their main focuses. They run regular Housemate Finder events throughout the year, for students who may be looking to find new people to live with or a new place to live.
Their next event will be on Wednesday 20 November in Coffee Revolution, and Beren also encouraged people to head along to this as well as attending the Housing Information Fairs and being cautious about rushing into signing for a house.
“My biggest piece of advice would definitely be to take your time, and think about what would make your next house feel like a home to you,” Beren said.
“You might be feeling pressure from your friends, parents and all the adverts that are popping up everywhere, but you will always be able to find somewhere to live. It’s far better to think about what you want or need from your house, and to really get to know the people you want to live with before signing a contract with them.
“Use the contract reading service at the Advice Centre before signing anything, and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t sign! Remember that you’re the customer, and you should be in control and empowered in finding your next home.”