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Moving Into Your First Student House – The Information I Wish I Had Known

So, you’re moving out of Halls and into your first student house; whether it’s into a house of three people or eight, in Beeston or Lenton, there are some things you will definitely want to do before or as soon as you move in. Things that I only wish I had been aware of before moving into my first student home:

Familiarise yourself with what you’re entitled to in your house:

If your house has multiple households in it (a ‘household’ being each individual, or each couple), then it will probably qualify as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). This means that your house has to match certain criteria and standards, which they sometimes – whether intentionally or not – can fall short of.

“Knowing what your house is legally required to have makes it easier to spot problems, and will probably mean the problem will get fixed faster”

Landlords of HMOs have a responsibility to fix problems in communal areas such as external brickwork, (some) plumbing, electrical wiring, and most bathroom furniture. Knowing what your house is legally required to have makes it easier to spot problems, and will probably mean the problem will get fixed faster.

Shelter are the go-to source for housing regulations and rules, and their HMO guidelines can be seen on their website.

Take pictures when you move in:

Move-in day has arrived and you’ve crammed everything into your car, picked up the keys to your new pad, and have arrived to find that… something’s a little bit off. That damp patch on the kitchen ceiling wasn’t there when you looked around six months ago, and that desk is definitely going to collapse if you put anything on it.

“If your deposit is withheld because of a problem that was there before you moved in, the photos you take will be your best evidence”

Before you move anything into the house or try to fix anything yourself, take pictures. They will be immensely helpful if your landlord/letting agent wants evidence that you did not cause the problem yourself. It also provides excellent evidence if you end up having to get the council involved. Even if everything seems perfect, take pictures in each room, preferably from different angles. Make sure to show any blemishes on the walls/ceiling/carpet, any odd stains on the kitchen counter or peeling paint. If your deposit is withheld because of a problem that was there before you moved in, the photos you take will be your best evidence.

Sort out bills beforehand:

If you’re moving into a student house where you have to sort out your own bills, make sure to do so in plenty of time.

It can take a while to transfer water and electricity contracts over to you from the previous tenants, so the sooner you do it, the better. There will likely be a small charge from the previous provider just to cover any overlap time. I also believe it is best to avoid bill-splitting services; they may seem hassle-free, but often they  charge a pretty substantial service fee for doing so.

Setting up new accounts isn’t difficult and can be completed with just a phone call or online. There are thousands of other student households setting up their energy alongside you and they won’t mind the odd daft question!

Figure out who is paying what:

If you know your housemates can be a little slow on paying you back, make sure they are fully aware of when bills come through. Most direct debits go out of your account on the 1st of each month, so it’s easy for your housemates to set up monthly payments to you for the same date. There is nothing worse than chasing someone for a week for £10 towards the ‘leccy! No doubt it will put much less strain on your friendship if you set everyone’s responsibilities in stone before you even start.

It’s may also be a wise idea to have different housemates paying for different things. If different people take the energy, water and internet bills then it means there won’t be one person who finds their account empty at the beginning of every month.

Buy basic supplies:

Make sure that you have cleaning supplies and the basics before you even arrive at the house.

Most likely your house will need a bit of a clean before you unpack, and it’s far easier to simply bring the duster and polish with you than have to worry about buying them when you arrive. Checking if your house comes with a hoover is another way to make moving-in day that much more hassle-free.

Check for parking

If you or a housemate is lucky enough to own a car but the house does not have a drive, check beforehand if you need a permit to park on your road.

There’s nothing worse than turning up to your new house and ending up with a parking ticket by the end of the first week. If only one of you is bringing a car, but you know the rest of the house will get lifts everywhere, ask them all to pitch it; sharing is caring after all!

Establish a Cleaning Rota:

I know, I know, cleaning rotas are for neat-freaks. What they also are, however, is a very good way of preventing arguments.

If you assign housemates a different task every two weeks and display the rota in a prominent place, it becomes very difficult for someone to worm their way out of completing a task. No-one enjoys cleaning the bathroom, but it needs doing if you don’t want a nice mould and limescale collection on your porcelain throne. What’s more it makes those impromptu visits from parents slightly less embarrassing.

The above are just a handful of essential pointers I wish I had been told before moving into my first student house. If you find yourself ever struggling with your housing situation or have found you and your landlord to be on entirely different pages, the University has a housing advice service in the SU that can advise you on any topic, from bills advice to guidance on getting the Council involved. They have masses of advice on the University of Nottingham Student’s Union website, or alternatively you can find their offices in the Portland building if you’d prefer to talk to someone in-person.

Ellen Smithies

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