Housing is one of the few pains of being students. Come the New Year, students tend to panic and settle for the first house they marginally like. But there are some pros and cons that you should consider before you commit to the next nine -twelve months with your newly found friends. So why not try out some of the remedies provided by Lizzi Hart is an English Language student at the University of Sussex
1. Housing is expensive
Before you’ve even moved in, you have to fork out a deposit (normally one month’s rent in advance) which you should get back depending on the state of the house when you move out. Not only that, you have to pay agency fees up to around £200-300 that you’ll never see again. Goodbye student loan!
Remedy: Try and save as much as you can for these hideous upfront costs and do everything you can to get back your deposit. You’ll need your deposit and more for your third year house.
No matter how close you all were in first year, the chances are that you’re going to have a few fall outs now that you’re all cosied up in a house together. Arguments can range from when to put the heating on, to who’s left their washing up.
Remedy: Have a house meeting and decide on times to schedule your heating for. With washing up, just do your own! If you’re not going to do it, put the dishes in your room so the only person it upsets is you. When guests come round, agree to all help out and it’ll get done much quicker.
3. Joint bank accounts
For most letting agencies nowadays, tenants in student housing need to pay their rent in one collective payment, so you’ll need to open a joint account (unless someone’s brave enough to collect it using their personal account).
Remedy: Sort this out as soon as you can, preferably before you move in. Normally you can only have two named account holders, so draw straws and send the two lucky candidates down to the bank. Then make sure all tenants set up a standing order with rent and bill money to go into the house account at least two days before rent is due, and set up a standing order from the house account to go out the day before rent is due. Sorted.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pay as you go electricity and/or gas meter, you can keep a track on how often you are topping up and you won’t get a surprise £2000 bill in 3 months. If you get paper bills, just be careful in your first month and then plan the next few months depending on the cost of the first bill. Water is also something to consider, and it generally comes every quarter of a year, so don’t forget about this.
Remedy: Track how much you are spending and as mentioned, get everyone to pay say £30-50 for bills into the house account with their rent, and any leftover at the end of the year can be split between you all.
5. Forgetting about rent
It’s bound to happen, and you will get charged by your bank if the standing order can’t be fulfilled and by your estate agents for being late.
Remedy: Set up a standing order as previously mentioned, and set a reminder each month to check you have the money in your account. Just don’t be that guy that forgets to pay rent and screws everyone over.
6. Cleaning is a painstaking task
Remember those lovely cleaners in first year that woke you up at 7am every morning with the hoover? Luckily for you they are gone, but now you have to pick up the slack. Not only do you have to clean your own room, you have to be responsible for the rest of the house if you want to get your deposit back.
Remedy: Make a cleaning rota so that everyone cleans a different room each week. If you enforce this, you’ll have a clean and happy house. If people become slack, suggest that all housemates do one task that they don’t mind every week. Then at least it gets done.
7. Getting sick of the word ‘communal’
The battle between ‘mine’ and ‘communal’ is a horrible thing. Items like tea and milk should be communal, but some of your housemates may not use these items and will want to be exempt from these costs.
Remedy: Just draw up a list of things that you all want and need, and limit your usage to a certain amount (i.e. one person can’t have 5 bowls of cereal a day, like others can’t eat all the pasta in one sitting). Use your house card to buy these items, and/or get a petty cash pot full of change to avoid those pesky card charges.
8. House meetings
Yet another painful thing about living in a student house is having to make big decisions as a group.
Remedy: Bring biscuits and don’t get too stressed. You have at least nine months together in close quarters so try to compromise as much as you can.
9. Parties are a pain
Do you remember those lovely parties you had in halls that the cleaners just tidied up after? Well now it’s different, as you have the responsibility to clean up the aftermath and at the same time hold on to that precious deposit of yours. Not only that, you have neighbours to consider.
Remedy: Don’t make your event public on Facebook, and don’t let gate-crashers in. Try placing cardboard on your carpets to prevent spills and restrict access to bedrooms. Remove any valuables from ‘party’ rooms and hide anything that’s on display in your room. Also, notify neighbours of any big parties you’re having just in case they decide to file a noise-abatement case against you (which can be very pricey!).
10. You will get sick of your housemates
It’s a sad thing to hear, but it’s the truth. Your housemates may have bugged you last year, but in such close quarters, their frustrating habits will annoy you even more in a house. It’s also advisable to not move in with your partner, if you can avoid it. Co-habiting with your girl/boyfriend in student accommodation can result in an absolute disaster if you break up.
Remedy: Learn to accept your housemates’ flaws, as you hope they will do for you. If something is really bothering you, think about how reasonable it would be to ask them to stop. If you truly believe you will be happier without their annoying habit, confront them but in a cautious way – you don’t want to create any tension in the house.
Lizzi Hart is an English Language student at the University of Sussex and a Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Find her on Linked In here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lizzihart