STU­DENT DIGS: YOUR QUES­TIONS AN­SWERED

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

Simon Jones, North East Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor for UNITE, a provider of stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion: Q: I’ve never looked for some­where to live be­fore, what’s the first thing I should do? A: A good place to start your search for stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion is at your uni­ver­sity’s Ac­com­mo­da­tion Of­fice which will have de­tails of most of the op­tions that are avail­able. There are also a num­ber of on­line sites which spe­cialise in stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion. There are a wide range of op­tions, from uni­ver­sity halls and tra­di­tional stu­dent hous­ing to pur­pose­built, man­aged ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Take time to think about what you want out of your liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. If it’s the op­por­tu­nity to meet lots of new peo­ple then you could con­sider halls, or pri­vately man­aged ac­com­mo­da­tion, where you will be liv­ing in a build­ing with other stu­dents. Some ac­com­mo­da­tion providers have stu­dio flats which en­able you to have your own space, but with the op­tion to make use of com­mu­nal ar­eas. Q: Will I have to sign a con­tract? A: Yes, all rep­utable land­lords will want to you to sign a ten­ancy agree­ment. This en­sures that both you and your land­lord agree on im­por­tant terms such as rent and length of ten­ancy.

Make sure that you read the agree­ment thor­oughly and un­der­stand the terms. If you have any con­cerns, you could ask your par­ents or uni­ver­sity Ac­com­mo­da­tion Of­fice to check through be­fore you sign on the dot­ted line. Q: Will I have to pay rent dur­ing the hol­i­day pe­ri­ods? A: Most ten­ancy agree­ments are for a fixed num­ber of weeks so you will usu­ally have to pay for your room even when you are not us­ing it. Ten­ancy lengths and start dates can vary, so be­fore sign­ing a ten­ancy agree­ment you should get clar­i­fi­ca­tion from your ac­com­mo­da­tion provider on what the start date is for the ten­ancy and how many weeks it’s for. The ma­jor­ity of UNITE’s prop­er­ties of­fer a 43week ten­ancy to cover term time with the op­tion of ex­tend­ing your stay over the sum­mer for a re­duced rate. Q: How do I en­sure that I get my de­posit back? A: Ask to see the prop­erty be­fore you move in. Make sure that the land­lord is aware of any ex­ist­ing dam­age. You should also be given an in­ven­tory, check this thor­oughly. De­posits paid for rental prop­er­ties are pro­tected un­der a Ten­ancy De­posit Pro­tec­tion Scheme. The scheme is de­signed to stop land­lords from wrongly with­hold­ing all or part of your de­posit and help re­solve any dis­putes. Q: What should I bud­get for when I move into stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion? A: Make sure you in­clude the cost of all bills when work­ing out how much you can af­ford to pay in rent. You will need to con­sider en­ergy bills, wa­ter rates, in­ter­net, the cost of a lan­d­line, con­tents in­surance and a TV li­cence. Some pri­vate providers in­clude bills in your rent. Q: Will I have to pay coun­cil tax? A: The vast ma­jor­ity of stu­dents are en­ti­tled to ex­emp­tion on coun­cil tax, but it de­pends on your in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances. For ex­am­ple, if you live with non-stu­dents, the house­hold will have to pay coun­cil tax but you’ll be el­i­gi­ble for a dis­count.

For more in­for­ma­tion you can con­tact the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau or visit their web­site. Your uni­ver­sity should also be able to pro­vide you ad­vice.

You will need to reg­is­ter with your lo­cal author­ity and if you are en­ti­tled to a dis­count they may ask you to pro­vide proof of your stu­dent sta­tus. Again, your uni­ver­sity should be able to help by pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion Q: How do I find peo­ple to live with? A: Liv­ing in shared ac­com­mo­da­tion can be a great ex­pe­ri­ence and an op­por­tu­nity to make friends for life. Some ac­com­mo­da­tion providers of­fer a list of pref­er­ences when stu­dents make a book­ing and they will do their best to match them – this might be liv­ing in an all male or all-fe­male flat or liv­ing with veg­e­tar­i­ans. If you are plan­ning to live with friends, think care­fully about the qual­i­ties that you value in a house­mate. It helps to pick peo­ple with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests, or some­one from your course, that way you al­ways have some com­mon ground. Q: I’m just do­ing a short course and don’t need ac­com­mo­da­tion for the whole year, what op­tions do I have? A: Check with your uni­ver­sity’s Ac­com­mo­da­tion Of­fice to find which providers of­fer short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion. They may also be able to put you in con­tact with other stu­dents who are look­ing for a sim­i­lar length of stay.

UNITE pro­vides ac­com­mo­da­tion that is pur­pose built for stu­dents. Tel: 0800 783 4213.

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