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      12.01.2010 19:44
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      Dont make mistakes!

      I have been renting the same house with some friends for a little over 18 months and my contract runs out in the summer. This is just going to give you some tips and hints which express my opinions and views on renting private student accommodation and can maybe help some students looking for their first house-share. 1st tip - START EARLY In most big student cities, you really need to decide who you are going to live with and where you want to live quite early in the year, with most places being chosen in January/February. There are some dives out there so make sure you and your friends are happy with where you are choosing. I first started looking in about January in my first year for the house for the second year but it can be a quite quick, pressurised week/two, especially if you are after a house that does look really good and lots of people might want after viewing. Some landlords will hold houses for you for 24 hours and this is good but really there is not a lot of time. You also need to have the money for a deposit around this time; (usually about 1 months' rent) so make sure you budget for this! 2nd Tip - CHECK THE CONTRACT At my uni there is a contract checking service as well as a list of pre-approved landlords. This is great as it is a new experience to most people and it can be a bit daunting, especially when you don't know what to look for in a legal document. Make sure that the contract is ok and doesn't have any clauses where you can be liable for other people's non-payment of rent etc -> you never know what some people that you think are your friends are capable of. You also need to check if you need to pay rent over time when you might not be living there, and you need to check when you can move in, and how quickly/how you could get out if you needed to. 3rd Tip - DON'T SETTLE FOR THE FIRST HOUSE However boring it might be to set up appointments and all get together and look around houses, it really is worth it. We looked around quite a few before we decided on ours, but it does show you what to look for and how bad some places can be (so how good others are in comparison!) 4th Tip - THE LANDLORD/LADY IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE HOUSE I really can't stress this enough and I have found that it is a really important thing. I have only met my landlady once but she is always there on the phone and I think renting houses in my area is her main business. Literally every time we have even a minor problem, we just call/email her and within 2 days she has either had it fixed, or has called us back to tell us someone is coming to fix it. Things do go wrong with houses, especially I have found short lease student houses because no one really cares and no one knows how/can be bothered to deal with things. But for example our house, and a different friends both got mice (eww I know!) and we both called our landlord/lady. Mine called me back the same day telling me a guy was coming at the weekend; my friends' landlord came over a few days later with a container of rat poison and just gave it to the girls. To try and get insight about the landlord/lady, ask the current residents when you look around the house. It is important - trust me. My uni had a list (like I said) of pre-approved house owners, so maybe look into this? 5th Tip - THINK ABOUT BILLS My house is quite small and this can be annoying when you are used to more space and you need to store your clothes/other things, and have house parties however at least our house is not too expensive to heat. I know friends with massive houses and fully equipped kitchens, and all they do is moan about how cold it is (with the heating on) and how they argue about the overuse by someone else of the tumble drier/dishwasher. I know these things aren't going to be that important or using that much energy but it is worth bearing in mind. It is likely to be the first time you have to pay energy bills yourself so it is worth making them low as possible and not heating massive rooms you don't use. Especially as most student houses tend to be really old and not well insulated. 6th Tip - TAKE SOME DIY/THINGS WITH YOU WHEN YOU FIRST MOVE OUT All of my housemates and I have found it so useful to have all had little things like a set of screwdrivers, a hammer, some spare light bulbs, some superglue etc with us just around the house. It is the little things but if you really need a hammer, it is kinda hard to think of places you can just go out and get one from without a car or a good knowledge of the local area. We all bought some little supplies with us like this and they have pretty much all been used. 7th Tip - THINK ABOUT THE AREA My house is not in the best area at all but it is only 1 minute walk from the main road, so I always think that if I was on my own at night/it was dark and scary, I would be able to walk/run home (maybe not in 6inch heels but you know, I could hobble...) home really quickly if I needed to. Some of my friends live in bigger, nicer houses but they are really far from the main roads and I wouldn't like to be there walking for 15-20 minutes on my own as they still aren't in nice areas. 8th TIP - LIVING IN THE HOUSE So, you've chosen the house, paid the deposit, packed your bag full of screwdrivers and glue and moved in. Whats it like? I have enjoyed most of my time in my house although there have been some fallouts and some annoying people/times. First things first you need to make sure that everyone has the same idea about things (should probs do this before you chose who to live with!) i.e. If you love a good party and everyone else is a clean freak, it might be hard for you to throw massive parties. Also if some people are too clean or not clean at all, this can be hard to live with. They say you never know someone properly until you've lived with them, so make sure you chose wisely and remember, if you're not having a good time/you fall out for definite, you only have to live there for about 9 months. Anyways, I think that's it but feel free to add some tips into the comments box if you can think of anymore!! I hope this is useful to someone

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        12.01.2010 15:43

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        A fun time if you have nice house mates, but make sure you agree on the bills before you move in!

        Private accommodation as a student is an absolute minefield. To start with (usually) you have a very minimal budget and this attracts landlords who sometimes take advantage. I have rented as a student in the Bristol area and it's ok as long as you know what you are letting yourself in for but quite often the accommodation is not of the standard it would be for say a professional couple who are in their first jobs. The tendency is for the Landlord to treat students less favourably and to view them with suspicion (ie. why should I get secure locks fitted on the doors? They will probably trash my property with all night parties anyway). So it is worth shopping around. But most students are not too worried. As long as you are sharing with a bunch of decent house mates, this is what being a student is all about. The main pitfalls to watch out for are decent locks and security on front doors (I have been burgled once along with my other house mates as a student and this is not nice). If you can you should also try to get accommodation where bills are included and quiz your landlord about how quickly they will repair things. Also check the boiler isn't too old as the las thing you want is to be trying to study in a freezing cold house in the winter. You should also come to an agreement with house mates about bills and how they will be split prior to moving in together. The number of times I have lived somewhere during my 4 years at uni and then somebody didn't pay their share was unbelievable!

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        29.12.2009 21:34
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        Unfortunately we need estate agents!

        After my on-campus accommodation at the University of Essex expired, I had to move out into private accommodation, electing to move into a 6-person house in the quaint village of Wivenhoe right next to the University. We were let the house by Colchester-based estage agent East Anglian Properties, and although mostly it was fine, they did try to sting us a few times. The main problem that students face is that, when up against a rich, experienced company, you're more often than not going to have to yield to each of their whims. For instance, our house had a boiler problem, and it took 3 weeks to be fixed, with our landlord sending us rather diminutive portable heaters in the mean time. Our estate agent rather absurdly claimed that heating was not a necessity, and given how much we'd been mucked around, we decided not to pay our rent for a month. However, they stuck to their guns with their legal know-how, while we just wanted them to be reasonable and human, yet because they would probably win a legal dispute, and none of us had the money for a lawyer, we ended up yielding. Similarly, when they asked us to re-decorate the house in order to get our deposit back, we couldn't really say anything as they had the total edge. On one final note, before you move out of your student accomodation, and before you graduate, MAKE SURE to tell the government, as otherwise you will be sent a council tax bill for the house, for the short weeks you were renting it after you graduated, as we were. As a result we all had to pay £50 each despite not living there, for something as silly as not telling them we had moved out! In general living in the private sector is fine bill-wise, but ironically it's the estate agents who are the most annoying facet!

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        04.01.2009 22:09
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        A non specific reccommendation for students in Huddersfield looking for housing.

        In general at University and especially in Huddersfield stay away from renting through agencies. There are a lot of these in Huddersfield and it is easy to fall into the trap of going with this so called easy options. As it is though you are better off renting through a University approved private landlord. Letting agents receive a fee from landlords to fill their houses and manage any complaints the tenants may have. The problem with this is that agents don't have to have any prior knowledge of renting properties and can just give you poor service and the last thing you need with your studies is problems with your house. Private landlords care about the well being of their tenants and as the profit they get from the rent doesn't need to be hiked up to cover commission costs the price you're charged will be fairer. I've been at University for four years and this is the first year I've been unfortunate enough to get saddled with an agency. Friends of mine have also had problems with the same agency one of them was electrocuted by bad wiring. Agencies like this are fundamentally con industries and take no responsibility for shoddy work in the property citing it as the Landlord's issue. Unfortunately they avoid giving you the landlords details at all costs. Which is by the way illegal.

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          16.07.2008 13:45
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          I would recommend trying it as it is fun most of the time

          My experience of private accomodation has been mixed. I live in a student area and thus crime is high. I have been burguled and it was very upsetting, Im therefore always winging on about security. One thing to bear in mind when you are deciding who to live with is can you trust them to shut the door if they are drunk and coming in last at night? When looking through the masses of landlords houses I have some tips to make sure you do: *Ask about bolier saftey checks, is there a certificate to say its been done in the last year *Check walls and inside nooks and crannys for damp, and underneath the boiler. *Ask your landlord to put all repairs promised in your contract *Ask around or the current tenants to see if the landlord is any good. *Agree a rent in writing and dont sign a contract til youve had it checked by an independent source such as your union. *Make sure everyone is agreed and you know they will stick to the contract and pay their rent ontime. A good thing to do is to set up a standing order or a joint house bank account. *Take out personal possessions insurance, that way if you do get burgled then you know you are definately covered. *Finally agree a time to move in and ask the landlord in advance if this date is ok. My first landlord was great until giving back deposits, he became rude and angry at me. Second landlord is an agency but they own our property. They have left the flat in great condition and done most things we asked for and have promised to complete the rest within a set time limit.

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          30.07.2002 08:04
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          Moving to University is exciting in itself - in Halls of Residence you have a secure home, lots of fun and, most importantly, no parents!!! But come the second year when most students move into rented accommodation elsewhere in their university town problems begin to surface. I can't complain. Two of my housemates have lived in Reading since they were very young and one had a friend of a friend of a friend that rented out houses to students. Great!!! There was no frantic searching around offering vast amounts of money in rent to any old landlord for us. We have a lovely house and the most wonderful landlord. You hear all these horror stories concerning the squalor that many students have to live in and, frankly, I count myself lucky. Any problems 'chez moi' are always seen to by my landlord within two days. But anyway, on to my experiences: When I first met my current partner, he was not a student (although after much nagging he has now just finished his first year and spends the majority of his time on my computer), but he lived in a student house with eight other lovely guys. They kept the house itself quite tidy, but the aspects of the property that were the landlord's responsibility were neglected. I still remember the day I was attempting to cook in a fly-infested kitchen and glanced out of the window to see a rat running around in the back yard; then there was the time I was having a shower and got out to discover the humidity had enticed hundreds of flying ants to swarm out of a hole underneath the sink, covering my towel, my clothes and sticking to my damp skin. Then there was the time that the drains blocked and the slime started leaking out from underneath the back gate onto the main road bringing several complaints from the public. Finally, after a visit from Environmental Health, the landlord was threatened with the ultimatum - "Sort it out, or it will be declared unfit for human habitation". Soon after, the problems were being slowly resolved. My point is, however, that it shouldn't have taken so long. It seems that there is this cliche that students are used to living like squatters, and many landlords turn a blind eye to the often dangerous conditions their properties pose. The landlord of that particular property should have been obliged to take responsibility for any problems the moment that his student lodgers reported them to him. This, of course, is a very extreme example, but there are common problems that you hear about from fellow students practically every day. So many of my acquaintances seem to suffer from constant cold and flu-like symptoms that they attribute to the abundance of damp that adorns all the walls in their rooms. Surely students have as much right to safe, secure and comfortable housing as any other person - so why is there not some regulation that requires every landlord to ensure that the properties they rent out are damp/rat/insect free? However, and yes, it's a big 'however' - the blame cannot be placed entirely on the landlords. Sure, there are certain aspects that students (inexperienced as we are) cannot deal with, such as damp, drain blockages, toilet explosions (it has happened to me!!!) and the like; but the living conditions are our responsibility and ours alone. My house is a gem amongst student accommodation - I do not exaggerate - but ultimately, it is our neglect of duties such as the washing up, hoovering and toilet cleaning that sways my home towards the 'uninhabitable' band. After a recent overnight visit from my sister, I received a frantic phonecall from my mother begging me to move out after she had heard the report of the toilet (fragranced with 'eau de la public lavatory') and the living room laden with dinner plates on which we were cultivating our own form of anti-penicillin - not to mention the nests of flies and larvae in the bin and vegeta ble rack and the sticky mass on top of the hob, of course. I love my home, and I love my housemates - don't get me wrong - but sharing the chores equally so that they get done is a difficult organisational skill to master. All four of us being stubborn does not help matters. We've been living here for just over a year now, and I have been the only one ever to clean the toilets and bathroom (which do smell like men's urinals, believe me!!!), but that doesn't make me a Saint. I'm probably messier than the three men I live with. My advice to anyone about to move into shared accommodation - student or otherwise - is make sure you can trust the people you will be living with to do their fair share and to not be overly untidy. You may not be able to find out much information about your prospective landlord and his capability to look after the property in a structural capacity, but you can certainly ensure that you and your friends are prepared to work hard to retain a clean and healthy atmosphere. Get it right from the beginning, and don't end up where I am - still trying to drag myself out of mostly self-imposed squalor.

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            21.02.2002 21:44
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            Well as you probably will have noticed Im a student at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. And boy have I had my fare share of accomodation problems... To all students embarking on private rented accomodation take note of the following. ALWAYS ensure you read any tenancy agreements carefully. INSIST on getting a rent book - its a legal right and is a record of the rent you have paid. If you pay cash always get a receipt - its how many landlords avoid paying tax. Landlords have a habit of being really friendly at first and being incredibly awkward and nasty when you get on their case. At least in my experiences anyway. Always ensure when you move in that they give you an inventory - they have a habit of forgeting those too - and check it off against what is in the place when you move in. Remember to highlight any damages because they may accuse you of them when it comes to move out. And its from your deposit they will take it! Finally if all else fails and you do get into problems know your legal rights. Any tenancy agreement is legally binding and is a contract. If the landlord fails to carry out repairs within a reasonable time then you can sue. But only in extreme cases. Sadly for students the legal redress can end up costing more than the value of things and there is no guarantee of success. This especially concerns deposits where landlords frequently withold them on tenants vacating properties.

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              09.10.2001 17:10
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              That was the state of house when we got back after the summer holidays. Outside the back door the drains had blocked flooding the area, causing the area to be flooded in runny s**t. mmmm lovely. But that wasn?t the only thing; the pressure on the boiler had also become dangerously high so we had to turn it off, so we had no heat or hot water. We had fungous growing on the inside on the front door frame. And when I say fungus I mean orange and green big plate fungus growing about 3 inches from the wall. These were only the main problem, there were other too, too many to mention here. Anyway after having our landlords (FlatFinders of Swansea) for the previous year we knew how long it would probably take them to sort it out. I have never rented before so I don?t know if their behaviour is typical of landlords, but we have definitely found them to be far from satisfactory. I live in a shared student house with five other students including my girlfriend. Before we moved in we looked at various houses and the one we moved into seemed by far the best, half way between Uni and town, 6 bedrooms, front room, kitchen, cellar and garden. It wasn?t in the best of conditions but we were assured by FlatFinders that it would be all sorted out by the time we moved in. All the rooms would be redone and we would get all the needed appliances like a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner. We were even promised cleaners would come in at the end of every term to clean the communal area, this seemed a bit far-fetched at the time, but we still believed. We moved in. No washing machine. No vacuum. My flatmates shower not working. The washing machine took 3 weeks to arrive. The vacuum took longer. Some walls had been painted, some had been half painted, e.g. up the wall as far the painter could reach. Cleaner coming in have now become a fantastic myth. Now, year after we first moved in, after many various problems (from rats to floods) and fl atfinders taking ages to sort them out, and my flatmates shower still not working, (they are waiting for a third one to be fitted, don?t even go there). The two bottom rooms in the house are still pretty much unliveable, one too cold and the other too damp. So when we saw the state of the house after the summer holidays and seeing all the problems we decided to take more decisive action. We gave FlatFinders a typed letters with a list of all the problems. We had of course given them list of problems before and little notice was taken. This time however we had got an independent handyman to look at the house (my flatmates dad, but they didn?t know that) and at the end of the letter we gave them a date we wanted to see action taken or we would be seeking legal advice. Anyway it worked as we had the boys from total drain care there the same day, and the landlord there the next day. Everything is on the way to being sorted out. We currently have a team of builders digging in the garden to sort out the drainage. Its not perfect, as we still have fungous on the front door as well as a few other problems, but it?s a damn site more than would have been done if we hadn?t written the letter. So my advice to students is, if you are having problems with your landlord, type them an official letter, making sure everyone in the house signs it, threatening whatever action you think is necessary, even if you know you wouldn?t go though with it, as the landlords don?t know that and they will be much more helpful and efficient.

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                21.07.2001 06:36
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                Well well well, I bet you didn't see that one coming, home? From Where I am standing or sitting rather you smell like I feel grreeeat. Right, so you are a student, a very happy student in the country, when private renting, you should consider the following my recent flock of deranged and insane recent opinions, however I am now going to tell you the reasons WHY and the reasons WHY and the reasons WHY NOT you should have student private accomadation. WHY: BECAUSE ITS FOR STUDENTS. No honestly? It's because you are a student and you want to be living in a private place - you pay for it and so it is yours to live in. SHARE with a duck, platapus or Mark, Shania or your friends as tis will help keep costs LOW. AND LOW IS WIKID. ~~Ali G in Ireland, Ali G in Northern Ireland~~ Also, it will help you get on a lot easier study the floor and carpet is wikid, and study what you are also supposed to be earning as that is a lot better than before and I, E I E I will always love YOU OOH OH OH O E OH. Wikid/ Right Wrong, who's to say, I don't give a shit if your straight or gay, Coming in a mess, going out in style, Fuck this ops gonna take me a while, Playing in a park, on a sunny noon, La La La run away to the moon. WHY: Continued... Right, so you are a rich steaming pile of... no you are rich so you can afford a camp us private accoconut. DON'T BLAME ME FOR YOUR INABILITY TO BE RICH. WHY YOU SHOULDN'T GO INTO PRIVATE HEALTH CARE: I mean ACCOMODATION mmmmKAY? SHUT UP! So, you are a scum bag, you ain't got no mates, skint and you smell like vomit. SO? MY FAULT? NA AH! It's Tony Blair's fault line, in Japan hilarious! In Japan!? Ahem Ahem, a ha a diddly a hoo. A hee, a hickle, a shhh - back to subject. Tweedle is a great name, but never ever under any circumstances hide as the tree will get caught by thunderiuno THEY ENDED THIS COS I AM DUMPLE.

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                  18.07.2001 21:07
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                  How To Avoid Some Of the Pitfalls When Renting As A Student… Having spent far too much of my adult life living in student accommodation & shared houses with wannabe students I thought there must be something useful I can pass on to all you students out there embarking on their first tentative steps into the unknown. I’m not promising that this opinion will have you laughing or contain a multitude of witty stories, but what I hope it will provide you with are some interesting and useful points to consider when renting for the first time. Although this opinion is mainly aimed at students it will also contain information that is relevant to anyone who rents their accommodation &/or in shared accommodation. STUDENT HALLS I thought I’d get this section out the way first, because there are a lot less pitfalls with renting accommodation from the university you study at. Generally you can pay for your ‘University Owned’ accommodation in one of two ways. You can either pay monthly or termly. It may seem like a huge amount of money to pay out straight away but I would strongly advise paying termly. The obvious reason being that its something you have to pay regardless over what payment method & if the money isn’t sitting in your bank account teasing you, then you can’t spend it. One big advantage of renting a place in halls is that you don’t generally have to pay any bills except your rent. This makes it a lot easier to budget (especially if you pay your rent termly). No nasty surprises!! This is particularly true if you are fortunate to rent a halls space that also provides you with meals which are included in your rent. Another advantage is that you only pay rent for the weeks you actually occupy the accommodation, and no rent is payable during the summer. Some of the disadvantages of living in halls can include:  Having to share with loads of inconsider ate people who keep you awake half the night.  Living in a room the size of a shoe box  Sharing a room the size of a shoe box  Trying to cook your tea on the only cooker while 7 other students attempt the same  People pinching your food There is an ickle not so nice trick to play on the persistent offender who keeps pinching your milk or favourite chocolate bar. Use your own conscience when deciding whether it’s a good idea!!! I have known of someone who put laxatives in the milk and left it to be stolen!!! Chocolate laxative bars are also just as amusing. Seriously though, if this is a big problem you can always invest in a mini fridge you keep in your room and store stuff in there instead. SHARED ACCOMMODATION If you think you have problems living in halls of residence – shared houses & the private rented sector are well and truly ‘Welcome To The Real World’. Firstly before you even attempt to go looking for accommodation your going to need some cash & plenty of it. For example if you intend to rent a property in the region of £600 pcm & share with friends you are going to need the following as a MINIMUM.  One months rent = £600  The equivalent of one months rent as a deposit = £600  Contract fees (average) = £117 TOTAL = £1317 The deposit will be kept by the letting agent/private landlord until you move out & any damages will be deducted from it. The contract fees are non-refundable & are a fee you are charged by the agent for setting up a contract. Below are a couple of words of advice regarding the above. Some landlords will find any number of faults with accommodation you have rented from them when deciding what are damages & what are not. Basically as a rule damages should not include anything that is considered normal wear and tear. To safeguard yourself against landlords who try and rip you off you can do two things:  Make a list of all items in the property & their condition, including specific information on stains, tears etc. Get this signed by the landlord when paying the deposit.  Instead of paying your last months rent, use the deposit instead. Some landlords will get a little annoyed at this, but in my opinion it’s a lot less hassle than trying to claim £600 back through the small claims court if you get ripped off!!! Beware of excess contract fees. They are unavoidable. However some letting agencies have begun to offer contracts on a fixed period such as 6 months. At the end of the 6 months they get you to sign a new contract & charge you the fee again. This is highly unethical. Best check with individual letting agencies before signing a contract. One of the big disadvantages financially with living in private rented accommodation is that you have to pay all year round which will include during the summer holidays when you may not even be there. Some landlords may offer you rent at half the monthly rate but this is rare. You can of course remain in your accommodation and try to find work locally during the summer, it is really up to the individual. GENERAL ADVICE Living in shared accommodation, even with friends you think you can trust can have many pitfalls. As a rule I have listed some of the things that will safeguard you against being ripped of by housemates & being left with huge bills to pay:  When signing the contract make sure EVERYONES names are on the contract. That way you are all liable for the rent. Be aware though that by having a joint contract for a property that if one of the students does not pay their rent then you are legally liable to pay it if they leave. The best type of contract if you can get one is one that says you are only responsible for your proportion of the rent.  Take meter readings when you move in. Als o check these meter readings everytime you get a bill. Do not depend on estimated readings because I know of many students who have been hit with a massive bill due to totally inaccurate estimate readings or debts from previous tenants. If someone moves out and someone new moves in take a meter reading on the day so that each person pays the correct amount for what they owe.  Be aware that if you rent with just one non-student that the property and everyone living in it becomes liable for paying council tax. As students you are meant to be exempt from paying this. However a loophole in the law means that if a non-student who lives with you does not pay the council tax they owe, every other person living in the house can be legally bound to pay the outstanding amount.  When deciding whose name goes on the utility bills I strongly advise EVERYONES names are included. Never volunteer to have just your name listed because you become solely responsible for making sure the bill is paid and any arrears will have to be paid for by you  Phone bills – hmm!! Probably the worst area for arguments really. One option is to set up an account whereby you can only have incoming calls. A second option is having the phone in your name & asking the phone company to provide you with outgoing calls barred unless you enter a pin number. You can then make calls & be responsible for all outgoing call charges. The rest of your flatmates can still receive incoming calls. Of course you could all just have your separate mobiles which would make life a lot easier.  Generally, try and sort out some basic ground rules BEFORE you move in. This should include all the above points as well as day to day stuff like cleaning, cooking etc. It may sound boring but rota’s for cleaning & cooking can sometimes be the only way of keeping the house relatively clean. Cooking as a group can save you money. FINAL POINT – GAS SAFETY < br><br>Over recent years you may have heard of students dying due to ‘carbon monoxide poisoning’. Although fatalities are rare there are plenty of cases of students suffering long term health problems due to this problem. There are a couple of things you can do to safeguard yourself against becoming a victim to this:  Firstly, when you rent a property the landlord is legally required to organise a yearly ‘Gas Safety Inspection’ of all gas appliance/flues/vents etc. This must be carried out by a registered service person. If this safety inspection has been carried out the landlord will be able to provide you with a ‘Gas Safety Certificate’. It is your right to ask and be given this certificate. It is also your right to demand that this inspection is carried out at least yearly. If you have problems with this I strongly advise you to contact your Student Union or university Student Support.  Any fires in the house should be free of staining & you should query any that is present  Fires should burn with a blue not a yellow flame  Carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased from most DIY stores. They should not however be used in place of an up to date ‘Gas Safety Certificate’.  Remember that you cannot smell, taste or see carbon monoxide. However you can be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning which include: headaches, tiredness, lethargy & sickness For further advice contact your Student Union or University Student Support officers who will no doubt be able to provide you with leaflets on the subject. You may also be able to purchase carbon monoxide detectors from them at a reduced rate. Well you have finally reached the end of the opinion!!! I hear you sigh with relief!!! It is my intention to keep updating this opinion so feel free to comment & offer suggestions on how to improve it.

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                    09.07.2001 22:58
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                    In my 1st year at university i lived in halls, like the majority of students do. However, there is a limit to the kind of things you can do here (throw parties for example and make noise!) Therefore, i had decided to move into private accommodation in my second year. I have just completed my second year at university and had no problems watsoever in a private accommodation house. I think this was largely due to having a very nice land lady!! She was very reasonable and when we moved into our house she had put in new carpet and had gave many of the rooms new furniture! My room was really nice, she had given me really nice pine furniture which had turquiose coloured fronts on them. When i saw my room i thought it was better than my room at home!! Apart from it being much smaller in size! She even allowed us to paint our rooms! There are 4 of us who live there altogether. One of them was painted yellow already when we moved in. I painted mine lilac and purple (as they're my fave colours!) We painted another room bright lime and pink! Everyone that visits our house thinks that its beautiful! Many of them have wanted to rent it out this year, but we've decided to carry the contract on for another year and are planning on painting the living room orange! We've never really experienced burglaries either, i think this is largely due to the location of our house. It's not on a road where many students live therefore its difficult to pinpoint that it's a student house! Our land lady has also put a special light into the front bedroom which constantly stays on in the holidays so that it always looks as though someone is in! Living in a private accommodated house also helps you to learn things about the real world like paying bills etc! As usually in halls all electricity, water etc are included in the weekly/monthly rates. Overall, i would recommend private acc ommodation to everyone that is at university. It can definately be rewarding if you find the right house to stay in!!

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                      06.07.2001 07:56
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                      • "There are many more of these shabby digs in Plumstead"

                      During my first year I lived in digs with 3 other students in Majendie Road, SE18. We were all thrown in together by our accommodation services office. Yep we were those students who for some reason did not, yet should have ended up in the halls. However my year in these digs was most fowl and bizarre. Our 'landlady' was a stingy, facist so and so. She did not even provide us with rent books. She was nosey and fanatical where her tenants were concerned, worst of all she lived nearby and could 'pop in' whenever. From day one we discovered her decorating left much to be desired, although I am aware student digs are never the bees knees. The fitted alarms did not work, were they there for decoration then? We could have been killed the numerous amount of times the hob set on fire because bits of crusty bacon got stuck there. There was a huge crack in the kitchen ceiling which my flatmate noticed. It was painted over, great - that did not solve the problem. A crack is still a crack even if it was painted gold. The carpets all smelled of God knows what. She claimed she had them professionally cleaned, fat chance. The garden was full of weeds and some broken crockery. She informed us she would sort this out, she never did and they moan about us students. She use to barge her way into the kitchen on rent days. She inspected the kitchen and moaned about the washing up left on the sink. She also moaned to our parents' about the situation. Like anyone cared. She told us to do the washing up regularly. We paid the rent so it was down to us whether we took 2 hours to do it or 2 weeks to. This was a regular inspection. If we wanted a parent figure we were have stayed at home for free. One time she threw our belongings from the kitchen into the backyard. She added that the kitchen should not have things lying about in it. We were speechless. Occasionally she would bang on our front door at 8 in the mornin g. A) She had no right to do so and B)What student would be up at that time anyway? No one ever answered the door, we were fast asleep or trying to be. With that she opened the front door and let herself in. That is illegal unless she had our consent to do so. She then banged on all our bedroom doors and tried to open them. Luckily my door was locked with the key in. So she could not enter my room. She phoned our parents telling them their offspring weren't in the house. How gratifying to know that, what a lying so and so. We also had to pay full rent during holidays. She never let us have a reduction. The rent was expensive considering bills were extra, the house grotty, the erea was run down and far from Uni. The list of what she said and did to us is endless. I can tell you all the above happened throughout the year on a big scale. More flatmates' left here than the Big Brother house. She left a bad vibe on the whole house. She even broke down a door of the spare room on purpose. We did not see her do this, yet the bill fits. She docked £80 of our rent money to pay for this door's replacement, OUR money for her CRIME. She did not even have the audacity to produce a receipt for the carried out 'repair work', dodgy or what. Moreover she told us that we were the worst students she had ever had in her house. That's codswallop. We were more or less the type of students you would find in any landlady's house. Except we were the victims(refined) and she was the dictator and far from a 'lady'. Do not live here, if tempted to check out this creton of a house take a bus ride - the number 53 here. Minus 1 from this gives you the house number too ;-)

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                        24.04.2001 21:38
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                        You're more likely to die here than live.... Anyone who has ever been a student will probably have made the all time big mistake of moving into a shite house. The first house I ever moved into was a kip, not to mention a death-trap. When we first went round to see it, we didn’t really look at it properly at all. It was cheap rent and that was all I needed to know. My room was downstairs with double doors leading into a barber shop at the front (the barber was the landlords brother) I was woken up every morning at 8am with music what a head wrecker. Lots of stuff didn’t work when we moved in and we needed a variety of workmen (electrician, plumber, carpet fitter) Well surprise surprise these all turned out to be the same bloke. In fact one of the plumbers that came round said he hadn’t installed a boiler like ours since he was 17 (he was about 55) I won’t go into the details as I’m sure you all have stories of mould, slugs and broken down heating. I finally moved out when the heating had been broken for 6 weeks and the washing machine for 4 weeks, then we had no hot-water and there was a burning smell coming from the shower. The advice I can give is When Looking For A House Always look carefully – just ‘cos it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s cheerful, a couple of quid extra a week is worth it in the long run Look at the ceilings and walls for signs of damp Check what kind of heating there is – if it’s plug-in electric heaters in every room, you can be guaranteed to be cold and faced with a huge electric bill – not to mention how dangerous they can be While you’re there check that everything’s working i.e. heating, running water, alarm, check that that the toilet flushes (I’ve had a bad experience with that :o) Also an important thing to remember is to look for power points , there are often very few in old houses, sometimes the bedrooms won’t have any at all. Consider how far away you are from the university and the kind of area you’re in. A nice house in a bad area isn’t going to be much comfort to you if you repeatedly get broken into. Always ask for safety certificates you are legally entitled to them Remember that your landlord has to give you 24 hours notice before coming round and walking in when s/he feels like it is completely out of order. You’re paying rent so it’s your house. Check to see if the your gas and electric is on a meter, this may be handy if you’re moving in with people you don’t know or people you don’t trust to cough up for the bills. On the other hand it will work out more expensive in the long run If you think your landlord is taking the piss – don’t stand for it. You can get environmental health to come round and check the house and tell you what you’re legally entitled to. For example I was within my rights to demand a window to be put in in the kitchen. (We didn’t have one!) somehow I thought moving out would be easier. If you think your landlord will not give you back your bond then you are legally entitled to hold back this amount in rent if you believe s/he isn’t going to give it back. Always ask who pays the water bill - the landlord does not have to do this, but if s/he says they will then make sure it’s in your contract.

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                          19.03.2001 20:00
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                          At university, most people live in halls for the first year, then go on to rent private accommodation for the next two to three years. Depending on the area in which you are studying, much student digs are in good condition, with affordable rent and decent landlords, but in other areas, more so closer to London, in my experience and experiences of friends, the renting can be a nightmare. I went to university as a naive and trusting individual, and over two years, I lived in three different "student" houses, and in each case, myself and my housemates were taken for the ride of our lives. The first landlord was a cowboy. British Gas shut down our central heating boiler as it was leaking carbon monoxide fumes, and had been for many months. I wondered why I had been feeling so ill for such a long time beforehand. My bedroom was directly above the boiler and I was slowly being poisoned! For the remaining two months in the house, the landlord refused to repair the boiler and we went without hot water or heating. The second landlady was another phoney. She spent the rent, didn't pay the mortgage, so Halifax repossessed our house. She sent the eviction notice around on Christmas Eve. She skipped off with our deposit of nearly £1000 after screwing us over with the rent by standing order from our seperate rent account. She contacted the other housemates to pay her directly over Christmas, after she had told them that she had told me to cancel that standing order, so the bank still paid out the full amount of rent with only my money in there. She did not call me at all. Myself and the housemate whose names were on the account were given black marks against our credit rating for the next six years. The landlady of the third house was okay, but the house was in the most disgusting state, with cracked windows, holes in the walls, damp, and an invasion of slugs! Mind you, all the houses were in a poor state, with mould, damp, and no security whatsoever. As you can imagine, moving around so much and being ripped off financially by landlords is the last thing anyone needs, especially poorer students. Be very wary if you are a vulnerable student about to rent. Although some ladlords are decent and honest, and many properties are in good condition, many are not, and there is always someone out there ready to take advantage of unsuspecting students. - Make sure that the rent is paid by cheque (preferably) each month with a receipt. - Make sure you sign a contract for the duration you plan to stay. - Make sure you read through university guideline booklets about renting, safety standards, and so on. Speak to your university accommodation department for further information and advice, and make sure that you know the score before throwing yourselves to the lions, because: Beware, they bite!

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                            22.02.2001 17:07
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                            Finding a student house, is one of those hurdles designed to make maximum discord with all your mates. If you don't fall out over who get the lovely attic room and who gets the box room you can wait for rows over phone bills and washing up! Sheffield, as the university love to say, does have a surplus of student accommodation but this doesn’t stop potential landlords trying to rip you off especially if you head of one of the known student areas. Areas such as Crookes, Broomhill and Ecclesall are really popular with students and therefore the rents are incredibly high - for Sheffield anyway with people paying upwards of £45 a week. Which when you consider the cost of buying a house in Sheffield is quite a lot of profit. Now if you must live in a student area to enjoy those studenty pubs and a plethora of takeaways then look early as housing goes soon. If you are working to a budget I think areas not considered great by students are well worth a look. Walkley, Broomhall and Hillsborough do have some decent student housing. Having lived in Crookes and Walkley I reckon Walkley is much nicer and also you don't have a massive great hill to walk up every day. Rents here can be low as £30 a week. The only downside is there is no cash point in Walkley. Hillsborough may be a little far away but there is a tram link and a Morrisons (the best supermarket in Sheffield). If you are really brave, then think about renting from the council. They have a surplus of property and rent to a number of students. They publish a leaflet of flats and areas for rent and it's worth a look. They rent furnished and unfurnished properties. I'd think about where you might live, some places like the Manor are very student unfriendly I hear!! But there are properties, behind Broad Lane Court (near Mappin) which are about 2 minutes walk from Sheffield Uni. Besides that there are properties at the other side of town nearer to Ha llam. They are well worth a look as rents are about £39 for a three bedroom flat (that's total not individual price) and tenancy is secured, you have to give 4 weeks notice to leave but you're not tied in for any period of time. Whatever you decide to do the most important thing is not to be swayed by where people think is cool/ studenty etc but to have an open mind and you might just find a bargain!!

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