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Making Happy Student Houses

After all the hard work of finding and securing your property earlier in the year, the big day has finally arrived: time to collect your keys, and move in! No more hard work? Wrong! Make the right start so that your house doesn’t fall into disarray (which can happen often in student houses in the first week). We’ve compiled a list of three things will get you off to the right start and make happy student houses.

Move In Tasks

It’s best, and easier, if everyone in the house arrives on the same day. That way, you’re all there to see the empty property and check off these essential move-in tips:

Check the inventory:

Your landlord should provide you with an inventory, which details the condition of the property (everything from walls, floors, ceilings to beds, sofas, chairs, etc.). Check this carefully, read it, make notes of anything that is wrong or has been missed. Then you, and the landlord, can sign it. A good inventory for a three-bedroom house should be about 20 pages long, ideally with photos. Larger, 10 to 12 bedroom properties should have much larger inventories. If your landlord doesn’t give you an inventory do one yourself.  Take photos; write up notes, e.g. the colour and condition of the walls, ceilings, floors, and items in each of the rooms. Get the landlord to sign it. If you don’t feel up to the task, ask a letting agent to do one for you (costs vary, but can be approximately £15 per room). You might have to organise this before you move in, as an inventory is better done on an empty house.

Basically, the inventory protects your deposit. If you don’t do one and the landlord later questions the condition of your room/the house, you could lose hundreds of pounds worth of your deposit.

Take meter readings:

Do this the day that you move in, before anyone uses the gas, electricity or water. Then you’ll only need to pay for what you use. Ask the landlord who provides these (and any other supplies, like telephone/internet) and check whether the landlord liaises with these companies, or whether you’ll have to.

Right! Now move in, agree which bedroom you’re all having, unpack your car/suitcase; move your bed to the position you want it in, fill up your kitchen cupboard, and have a housewarming party! (One that is respectful of the property and your neighbours, of course!)

Plan for services and bills

There’s a list of things you’ll need to sort out within the first few weeks – get this right, and everything else should run smoothly:

Utility bills:

Are you happy with the current electricity and gas supplier? Try one of the comparison websites to see who has the cheapest offer (you might save a few hundred pounds a year by changing suppliers). If you do change suppliers, write a letter to your landlord explaining why you are doing it and which company you’re changing to. They have a legal right to know but they can’t stop you from doing it!. You also need to decide – as a household – how you are going to pay for the utilities. Monthly, or quarterly? Splitting the invoice with each housemate paying a cheque when the bill arrives, or having a cash pot?

Internet:

Do you want the Internet? If you do you might have to get a line installed. This can take time, so do this early. It costs approximately £120 – £150 to get the line installed, then you need to decide on a supplier – watch out for ones who want to fix you to a 1 or 2 year contract: you are unlikely to be there that long and there’ll be penalties for pulling out early!

Insurance:

The landlord will be responsible for insuring the building. You’ll need to get contents insurance to cover both your items and the landlord’s items for accidental damage by you. Shop around, check comparison websites, and get a few prices. Check your parents or guardians’ insurance as you might be covered on that. Endsleigh Insurance (0800 783 2526, and recommended by the NUS) also provides a price to insure your contents in a rented and shared student property. Whoever you end up using, make sure they know you’re a student, and that your contents will be in a rented property, or your insurance might not be valid.

Water:

Is your property rated or metered for water? Contact Welsh Water to let them know that you’ve moved in, and to arrange how you’d like to be billed.

TV:

Do you need one license for the whole property, or individual licenses for each room? Who is going to pay, when, and how?

Council Tax:

You’ll need to claim your student exemption from Council Tax – don’t just ignore the bills! Take your Council Tax bill along with your student ID number and Tenancy Agreement to the Ceredigion County Council offices – near Morrison’s roundabout next door to the Welsh Government buildings.

Rent payments:

How is your landlord going to collect the rent? Do you need to transfer it into their account, or will they come to collect it? Is one person in the house collecting it all and taking it to the landlord, or are you each going to see the landlord separately?

House fund:

How will you manage common household items, like toilet roll, washing-up liquid, etc? House fund, or purchasing your own on an ad hoc basis?

Manage maintenance tasks

Once everyone has settled into the house, it’s time to plan for a happy student house. Let’s face it, some are more organised than others (we all have our strengths, and things to work on!). Make sure your organised housemates don’t get lumbered with all the maintenance tasks – the whole household needs to organise the completion of tasks. Break them down into daily, weekly, or monthly tasks.