How to flat hunt

Don’t camp outside the agency overnight

Whichever year you’re in, the upcoming flat hunting season is hugely important.

How you go about the flat hunting process will help determine what kind of year you have next year. A nice flat will make you feel better after a day at uni, and a horrible flat will make you feel that bit worse.

1) Choose your letting agency wisely

Try to speak to people who have experiences with the letting agency that you choose. Some are notoriously bad at dealing with problems with in your flat, while others charge additional fees.

Some agencies have ludicrous ways of deciding who actually gets the flat so make sure you don’t use an agency that encourages you to camp outside overnight to secure the property.

Speak to older students, and check with EUSA if you’re not sure – they’re a great resource of which agencies are reasonable or not. You also don’t want to be with a agency which is being actively protested against.

Don’t do this

2) Location

There’s a huge difference between living in somewhere in Marchmont to living in New Town. Whilst New Town might be more luxurious, it’s so far away from uni and most other students.

Newington might be the best location but the flats are generally smaller than in the rest of town. No location is perfect, so you need to decide which perks your flat would prefer to have.

3) Pay attention to the small things

Whilst everyone is looking for big bedrooms and spacious living areas, smaller details of the flat could cause you trouble down the line. Look out for things like how much natural light there is in the flat (you don’t want to live in a bunker for a year) as well if there are any drafts in the flat.

You don’t want a cheap flat that’s so impossible to keep warm that you end up spending hundreds on heating bills.

If you’re able to, it’s well worth asking the existing tenants what they think of the flat when they’re out of earshot from the estate agent. They have no loyalty to the landlord so are quite likely to tell you what they honestly think about the flat.

4) Take pictures when you’re viewing the flat

Always take photos because you will go to see a house and get far too overexcited. You’ll really like it and can’t wait to move in! Except you’ll forget that it was a lot smaller than you thought, and you’re actually just excited to be moving out of halls. Don’t disappoint yourself.

What do mean it isn’t ensuite?

5) If you like a flat, go for it straight away

As obvious as this may seem, there’s a temptation when you’re looking around a flat to like it but still think “oh but the next one might be nicer”. If you like it, ring the agency straight away, and get it secured.

The Edinburgh renting market is manic – if you dawdle around, the chances are that someone will nab the flat before you.

But at the same time..

6) Don’t panic and get a flat you don’t really like

Being shafted with a crap flat with tiny bedrooms and no living room isn’t worth the discomfort. Even you’ve left looking for flats quite late, there’ll still be a few decent ones out there.

Living in a flat you don’t like living in can really adversely affect your mood so make sure you get a flat you can actually see yourself living in.

Pretty old Marchmont

7) How much can you actually afford?

Remember, unless your flat is all-inclusive, you have a range of additional expenses to think about. Heat, gas, and electric are all potential money pits, while good internet will be at least another £20 per month on top. That’s all adds up, so don’t splash on a £450 per month flat and then realise that you can’t afford to put the heating on, let alone have enough data to stream Netflix for your hot date.

A big flat is nice, but a freezing flat and no data is not going to get you laid.

8) Actually sign a contract, don’t think the deposit is enough

“We’ve given them a deposit so the flat’s our’s right?”


A common and disastrous mistake to make is thinking that giving in a deposit is enough to secure the flat. Although some agencies and landlords like to postpone the signing of a contract for as long as possible, they can always give you back the deposit and tell you to leave if you haven’t signed a contract.

In the past, people have been left stranded in August without a flat after the landlord decided to sell the property. This is completely legal, and although extremely unlikely to happen, is still worth being aware of.

10) Read your lease… all the way through

Unlike the terms and conditions you blindly accept for your iPhone update, the contract is well worth reading through.

There’ll be plenty of small bits of info and rules that, if you don’t pay attention to, might get you fined. Or worse, stop you from getting your deposit back at the end of the year. You’ll also realise what rights you have, and what right you don’t.