Things to check before signing a house in Durham

There could be rats…

Maybe you’ve already found your dream house for next year, maybe you’ve just started looking. Or maybe you’re still working on gathering the perfect group to sign a house with.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you should be aware of when you’re looking for or signing a house in Durham. To help you avoid any ugly surprises after you sign that contract, we have made a checklist for you that you and your friends might find very helpful.

1) Consider the benefits of signing a house where bills are not included.


Most houses have a one year contract, and the semesters at Durham are very short. That means that all those months you are away on holiday, you still have to pay rent.

If you choose a house where bills are not included in the rent, at least you don’t have to pay excess costs for the months where you are not in the flat.

2) Go through the initial online advertisement for the house and check what utilities are included.


The letting agency might list that the house includes utilities such as wifi, a tv, a microwave, a tumble drier, et cetera. The reality is that many houses and flats do not have all these utilities included. Talk to your letting agency and ask about every single item on the list of included utilities.

If you don’t do this, there is a considerable chance that they might trick you and you find the flat or house empty when you move in. Be ready to negotiate and hold your ground, the letting agency has to be fair.

3) Get your contract checked by the DSU.


Contracts can be confusing and hard to decipher. Take your contract to the DSU, they’ll get it back to you with notes and comments within a few hours. More often than not, there will be something or other in the contract that may not be clearly enough stated or right.

4) Talk to someone who lives there already.


When you go to check out the house, don’t be too shy to ask one of the people living there a few questions. Ask them about the letting agency and landlord, whether they’ve had any problems with damp and mould, or any other negative surprises they may have experienced.

There are lots and lots of mouldy student houses in Durham, and rats have been observed too.

5) Last but not least, make sure you know your fellow housemates well enough to move in with them.


Do not sign a house too early. Countless times, groups sign the contract way to early only to figure out shortly afterwards that they do not get along with their housemates after all. The longer you’ve known them, the surer you can be that they are alright.

It is especially important to be compatible in stressful periods such as summative season or during the exam period. Ask them how many hours a day they work, how much sleep they get every night and how quiet they need their surroundings to be in order to be focused.