There is a range of accommodation in Aberystwyth, to suit most requirements and desires.
Whatever you do – don’t panic!
Some agents and landlords will try and rush you into searching for accommodation in Aberystwyth and making a decision. “If you don’t do this now you’ll end up homeless next year!” Whilst you won’t end up homeless, it IS true if you sit around doing nothing you’ll miss out on the best properties. Be pro-active and diligent. Give yourself every opportunity of finding a suitable home for next year.
Select your housemates carefully
Do you know these people outside of the Student’s Union bar? It’s not always the people you enjoy going to the pub with that are going to make the best housemates. You need to trust these people: you are going to be signing a joint and several contract with them! This means that, if for any reason, one of your group can’t make their payments (they might decide to leave University, or simply not be good with money), the rest of the group will have to make the payments on their behalf. That could end up being a LOT of money. Therefore, make sure you know and trust your potential housemates.
Check your Guarantors
Do you have somebody who can stand as your guarantor, and who is ready to sign documents on your behalf? A Guarantor is a person (or company) who makes a legal promise to be responsible for a debt obligation for a borrower. This means, they pay the bill if the tenant borrower defaults on their payments.
Different letting agents/landlords market their accommodation in Aberystwyth at different times. Make sure you’re aware when their lists are out. Some may have already started: some will bring theirs out in December or January. Also, there’ll be properties on the Aberystwyth University Student Pad list in February and March of the academic year. Be organised, and book your viewings!
It helps to have a set of questions ready to be asked at each property you view. There’s a lot you need to know and it isn’t always in the marketing material for a property. Aberystwyth University Accommodation Office has useful prompt sheets that you can take with you as a reminder, but here too are some basic questions to compare properties.
- How much is the rent per person?
- How much is the deposit?
- Are there any bills included in the rent? (Water, Gas, Internet?)
- Is there an application fee (sometimes called an Admin Fee) and if so, how much? (this can be anything from £10 to £100)
- How long is the contract for? (12 months? 6 months?)
- Is there any reduced rent during the summer? (And can I still store my stuff there?)
- Is the rent payable weekly, monthly, or per term?
- When does the contract start?
- Is the deposit registered under a deposit protection scheme and if so, which one? (There are three types: DPS, TDS, or MyDeposits. Every deposit has to be registered. Registration of your deposit will help you get it back at the end of your tenancy).
- Ask to see the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You’re legally entitled to see it, and it will show you how energy efficient the property is, and what your energy bills might be. Make sure it’s an up to date Certificate!
- Ask to see the House of Multiple Occupancy Certificate (HMO). The HMO will ensure the property is safe: if there’s a Certificate, the Housing Officer has inspected the property and all the correct safety certificates have been issued. EVERY property that has three or more people living in it (who aren’t related) has to have one of these. If there isn’t a HMO Certificate then the chances are that the property isn’t up to standard.
- Ask to see the Agreement you will be asked to sign and read through it! Like any contract, it will tell you what you’re expected to do, and what you can expect from your landlord.
- What if there’s a maintenance issue at the property – whom will you contact? Is it the landlord, a builder, or a workman? This will give you an idea of how long you’ll have to wait in the event of anything breaking down.
Properties are rented as seen. This means you get what you saw at the viewing. Once you’ve signed the Contract you’ve made a promise to rent the property, and it’s tough luck if you’ve chosen a property that doesn’t suit you. So look at the property with a critical eye. Does it have everything you need? Can you live with how it’s decorated? If there’s no shower, or the lounge has a leather settee, can you live with that? If you can’t, choose another property. The landlord has NO obligation to change anything for you – and if the landlord or letting agent makes a promise to do something, “We’ll be repainting this” or “the carpet is being replaced”, then get those statements in writing before you sign the contract. You’ll be amazed how forgetful landlords and agents can be. Six months later when you’re moving in and that dirty carpet is still there, and the landlord says that they would never have promised to replace it, without something in writing that carpet is with you for the whole academic year.
Is everyone happy?
Are you all happy with the decision to take the property you’ve chosen? Especially you quiet or more thoughtful members of the group! It’s always best to sleep on it: take 24 hours to think about it and have a chance to talk it through with your guarantors to see if they’re happy with your choice.
Contact the landlord to say you’d like the property, and ask to sign a contract. Have your deposit ready (cash is normally needed). Sometimes you might need to pay a “holding fee” or “application fee”. This might hold the property for you whilst the landlord (or their agent) runs some reference checks on you (and possibly on your guarantor as well). If they have asked for references, make sure that your referees write these as quickly as possible. If your guarantor needs to gill in a form check they’ve received it, and that they complete and return it promptly. Within a few days, call the landlord and ask if they have everything they need. If not, chase up missing documents – otherwise, the landlord might offer the property to someone else!
Check your deposit certificate
Within 30 days of paying your deposit, your landlord should have registered it (with one of the deposit protection schemes we discussed above), and they should provide you with a certificate to prove it’s been registered. Make sure you get your certificate, and check it has been registered properly. To do this, look for a telephone number (or website address) for the scheme being used, and contact them to check. Not all landlords are honest about this!
Once you’ve signed the Contract, that’s it: the property is yours and you can be reassured that you’ll have a home for next year. Make sure you keep in contact with your landlord – and your housemates – so you all know when you’re moving in. And congratulations on your new home!