Everything you need to know before renting a student house in Soton
How to get a banging house for your buck
Choosing a house to rent for next year is a daunting task, especially if this is your first time doing it. Any little clues you miss now, may mean you have to pay £100+ a week to live in a complete shit hole (learning from personal experience).
Looking for houses is a struggle you'll face all of first term, and potentially into January too if you've kept things last minute. Often the first question everyone asks is "when do you start looking at houses?" and "how do you go about it?"
So, here's everything you need to know before renting a student house in Soton.
When to start looking for a house
Everyone will tell you you're starting too early. It's next year's house, it's miles away and you'd rather spend your spare time in Jesters. Fair enough, but soon you'll realise all the good, cheap houses are gone and you'll be sad.
In reality, September/October is too soon as you'll still be taking part in fresher events, settling into your new course and accommodation, and most importantly meeting the friends you'll potentially choose to live with. November is a good time to book viewings and have a look at houses. Ideally you want to have signed for your house in December, so everything is sorted before Christmas. Also, trust us, you don't want to be stressing about putting deposits down and arranging viewings during January exams.
Who should you live with?
For many, this is the toughest decision of all. Do you live with course mates, flatmates, etc?
This question really depends on your situation and at the end of the day, the people you want to live with most. You form a special bond with your flat mates in halls, the kind that only comes from seeing one another at your lowest (usually in an absolute state, in the kitchen, after a big Ocies Wednesday). However, if you ended up with a bit of a shit flat, you've probably gone and made great mates elsewhere.
Also, think carefully about living with a couple. Sharing a house with a constantly rowing/separated couple is horrendously awkward.
The main thing to remember is if it all goes wrong, and you end up living with people you're not that keen on, second and third year are so busy that you don't spend that much time at home and if your closer mates are on your course, you'll probs end up seeing them way more anyway.
Where to live:
The answer to this is pretty simple, if you want a good second year social life, choose Portswood. Highfield seems like a good idea, but save that for your final year, when you really should be prioritising proximity to Hartley library over Jesters and Sobar.
Gordon Avenue, Alma Road, Shakespeare Avenue and Tennyson are always very social, but be careful as these houses go fast because of their notoriety.
Any further towards Aldi from Alma and you're hitting some dodgier ends (Lodge, Spear, Cambridge). Keep in mind the closer to Sainsbury's, the safer, for example Westridge Road is a perfect distance from both Highfield Campus and Sobar and Jesters.
Other areas to avoid include: The Polygon – you have confused yourself with a Solent student, seek medical attention ASAP. Swaythling – where actually is that? Shirley – no one ever lives here.
How to chose a good house
The amount of agencies on Rightmove can be overwhelming and there isn't really any great one to go with. Try to see houses you like online from a range of agents, the viewings will have some things to look out for:
Mould – Everyone knows student houses are full of mould and landlords will do anything to cover it up. You might think the tiles on the wall give it a modern look but honestly, they’re just covering the mouldy wall behind them. If you’re looking around a house that smells of wet socks in every room, its mouldy and probably best to just leave the viewing at this point. I didn’t, and this was my shoes two months in:
How does the landlord talk to the current tenants – If the landlord showing you around doesn’t even know the names of the tenants, he doesn’t give a shit about them and he won’t give a shit about you and any future emergency’s you should have in the house.
The tenant’s faces – The tenants who currently live there will know every problem the house has, so ask them what the house is like. If they look like they want to scream at you "get out while you can" it’s probably best, you do.
Fridge/freezer space – One fridge between five does not end well (especially if you’ve got meat eaters, veggies and vegans living in one house). You don’t want to be going into your exam with five angry missed calls because your cucumber is on the wrong shelf.
Single-glazed windows – Single glazed windows belong in the 1960s and not in today's society for a reason. I once woke up and my mould traps had ice in them. Double glazed windows and carpet will also keep your heating bills nice and low.
The landlord – Is the landlord pushy? Telling you if you don’t put down a deposit in the next few days it will go? Just wait until you’re sure, the house may go but there are plenty of student houses in Southampton and it’s not worth taking the risk in living where you will be unhappy.
The size of communal areas – After a long day at uni all you want to do is put Dinner Date on and chill with plenty of space.
Private landlord – A lot of people are suspicious about private landlords because they're not linked to a company. Private landlords can work really well because you contact them directly with issues, instead of going through a company.
Most importantly – Listen to people's recommendations and word of mouth, if you hear bad things, they're usually true.
Overall, enjoy yourself! House viewings can be really fun if you embrace it. Our time in Southampton goes so quickly and living with your mates is defo one of the best parts of uni!
Rate your landlord
Second and third years – we also want to know your experiences with your current/past landlords.
Have your landlords fucked you over? Were you forced to share your home with rats? Did they refuse to sort out your mouldy wardrobe? Or maybe you were treated very well. Either way, let us know!