This week is housing week. For those of you in first year, housing week is dedicated to stopping people rushing into signing house contracts (No, all the houses will not be taken by Christmas) and to let you know what you should look out for when viewing a house. Here are our top tips.
Firstly, DO NOT RUSH INTO SIGNING A HOUSE CONTRACT. A housemate is for a year, not just for fresher’s fortnight. Yes Amy from across the hall might be your best friend now, but what is she like to live with? Will she put the bins out, or is she going to play blaring music at 2 in the morning when you’ve got an exam? There are hundreds of houses in Cardiff, take your time to decide who you want to live with, and where you want to live. If you’re not sure who you want to live with, Give It A Go are hosting a Flat Mating event at 6pm on the 17th of November. Sign up through give it a go on www.Cardiffstudents.com/events/11505/6136/
Secondly, find out how much you have to pay upfront. Unlike halls, you can get caught out by lots of nasty fees and unexpected costs when renting. Most letting agencies charge an agency fee per person (I paid between £80-£120 for mine) plus a month’s rent as a deposit. This is NON- REFUNDABLE if you change your mind. Make sure that when you pay your deposit, you know what protection scheme is being used. By law your landlord or letting agency must pay your bond into a protection scheme within 30 days, this is often to stop landlords withholding your bond if you get into a dispute about charges.
Beware of promises. Lots of landlords and letting agencies will tell you anything they think will get you to rent a house off them (new furniture, painted walls, a flat screen TV…) but unless these promises are written into your contract, they do not have to deliver and failing to deliver on these promises does NOT mean you can get out of your contract.
Moreover, tenancy documents are legal contracts. Make sure you read the document thoroughly and get it checked (FOR FREE) by Student Advice. Once you’ve signed the contract, you can’t just change your mind. If you sign as a group, you are all legally responsible for paying the rent and keeping the contract, which is why it’s important to live with people you know you can trust.
Over the week, those of you in halls will be receiving a visit from our friendly Advice Squad. Advice Squad are students who volunteer their time to inform you guys about important things that are happening, and what actions you need to take. You’ll see them a few times over the year, handing out leaflets and informing you of events happening. If you’re interested in being part of Advice Squad or any kind of volunteering (we can offer you a cuppa whilst we chat through our projects!) pop down to our office on the 2nd floor or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need advice of any kind, are worried about housing or want your house contract checked over (all for free!!) contact Student Advice on email@example.com or 02920 781410. Student Advice offer drop ins Monday to Friday 10am-3pm (except 1-3pm on a Thursday) on the 3rd floor of the Students Union, Park Place and Mondays and Wednesdays 12-2 at the Students Union at the Heath.