Each year, students rush into taking out rental agreements for flats or student accommodation too early, only to see prices change or potential flatmates change leaving students with the big burden of a flat they no longer want or can afford. Choosing somewhere to live is a massive decision, and it is important that you make the right choices, at the right time, to make sure you Live Right. Right from the start of the year, estate agents, landlords and even student housing providers will ramp up the pressure, run promotional campaigns and fight to get your money and to get you to sign into a contract early, threatening that if you don't sign on the dotted line now, there will be nowhere left to live.

This is not true. The housing market in Aberdeen has changed drastically in the past few years. While there used to be a housing crisis and was a shortage of spaces for students, this is very different now. There have been a number of big student housing developments introduced, and the oil downturn has brought down the price of housing. There are over one thousand additional student beds vacant across the city this year, so there is no need to rush to rent.

 

Steps to Finding Student Housing

Step 1... Don't Rush To Rent

The first thing to do is not rush, and be sure to properly think about the decision you are making, and do proper research. You may see letting agents and providers putting pressure on you to sign contracts early, but only sign when you are fully confident you are getting the best deal. 

Why do landlords and estate agents want you to sign early?

  • While not always the case, landlords want to get you to sign a contract and pay your deposit so they can get good interest rates from saving your deposit in a bank account for an extra eight months.
  • They are also aiming to clear the poorer housing first as the current tenants are unlikely to want to continue staying and they target students because they think you won't know better.
  • The earlier the houses go the less incentive the landlords have for making improvements, or lowering rent to match the competition.
  • It is also harder for the current tenants to warn others about the quality of the property, as the contract is already signed. 

Although not all landlords and estate agents are like this, it is worth keeping these things in mind. Always be sure you are confident in the quality of a property, agency or contract before you sign anything. 

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Step 2... Get Information and Advice

Before you sign anything, it is important you have all the information that you need, and seek particular advice on looking for housing. You should do your research on the types of housing you are looking for, understand deposits, contracts, costs, taxes, TV licences and more.

RGU:Union Live Right Campaign is developing our website to include a wide range of useful information, advice and tips, however until then, the following are the best places to go for help:

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Step 3... Start Searching

Once you are confident that you know what you are looking for, you can begin your search for your next place to stay. There are a number of different options for looking for housing depending on if you are looking for student halls, private housing through a letting agency or landlord, or looking to rent just a room. 

RGU:Union Live Right Campaign is developing our Ratings system, which will list a variety of student halls and letting agencies in Aberdeen with all the key information, and then allow students to leave ratings and comments, so you know who a quality provider is. 

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Step 4... Attend Viewings and Sign Your Contract

Once you have an idea of the flats you are interested in, you can arrange a viewing to explore the property, ask key questions and make a decision. It is important that you use this as an opportunity to ask detailed questions, take notes and make informed choices before you move on to signing a contract. Before you sign anything, we highly encourage all students to arrange to meet RGU's ResLife Advisor who can review the contracts with you. 

RGU:Union Live Right Campaign is developing our information and advice sections to give you useful information on viewings and contracts, and will produce a checklist for flat hunting very soon.

Before you sign any contracts, be sure to answer the following questions: 

  • Do you know who you want to live with next year? Will you still be close friends by summer? Are they noisy or messy? Will they drop out by the end of the year? 
  • Do you know enough about local housing options? Have you researched student housing and private renting? Do you know when properties come onto the market? 
  • Do you know if the price is fair? Have you compared a number of properties? Can you afford the rent across the whole year? 
  • Do you know if you can trust the provider? Have you looked for previous feedback? Have you compared different properties/agencies?
  • Do you know if the contract is right? Have you spoken to Student Accomodation Advisor at the Student Help Point? Have you checked all the terms? 
  • Do you know your rights? What do you do if the quality isn't good? How do you report problems? What charges are you allowed to pay? 

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Step 5... Moving In

Once you have organised your accommodation, it is time for you to move in! In your first days in a new flat, it is important to take pictures of the property exactly as you found it, as this will be useful if you ever get in disputes with the landlord about the condition of the flat. You should also check all the items detailed in the inventory which you will be given when you move in. This is a list of all of the items provided with the property, and all must be accounted for by the end of the tenancy. 

RGU:Union Live Right is working on some helpful information and guidance on steps to take when you move into a new property, but also advice on living with others, how to deal with disputes with letting agencies or landlords, flat inspections, and how to complain. Until then, you can download the NUS Ready to Rent Moving In Guidance

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Step 6... Moving Out

The final step of the year is to move out of your current location, before going to your next one. This is where students need to ensure they keep the flats clean and in good condition to ensure you get your deposit back. 

RGU Live Right Campaign is working on some guidance for students on the steps to take when moving out. We are also launching our Live Right Ratings system which will allow students to leave a star rating and comments on the student accommodation or letting agency that they used, to ensure students know the quality they are getting before they choose their next location. 

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Top 5 Myths About Renting

 

House Hunting

If you are searching for your next flat, the National Union of Students have developed this video to give you advice on house hunting. 

 

Signing Contracts

Before you sign a contract for a propety, be sure to get advice and know if everything is fair. The National Union of Students Ready to Rent campaign has produced this helpful video with advice and tips. 

 

Get Your Deposit Back

After you finish your year of renting, you should remember to get your deposit back. Here are some top tips on how to not lose your tenancy deposit.

 

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