By Chantelle Frampton, Lifestyle Editor, @frampy_93
So it is that time of year again where we all have that final push until summer begins. It is also the time that students scout Belfast for the best and cheapest property for their student housing. This can be an extremely daunting task if you are new to the Belfast property market. However, not to worry, The Gown has compiled a handy and concise list that will make the task of finding your student home that little bit easier.
- Choose your housemates carefully
Whilst the idea of living away from home with your friends is exciting and new, it is vital that you are certain that you wish to live with them. It is important that you communicate with each other and talk about important issues such as budgeting. Money disputes are a common subject matter of arguments. One possible way to avoid this is to talk about how you wish to split bills and budget for the house. It is also important to ensure that all tenants wish to have a similar lifestyle within the house. If one tenant wishes to have continuous parties whilst the other wants peace and tranquillity then compromises need to be made so that everyone is happy. Nobody wants to be paying administration fees for pulling out of a tenancy agreement.
- Location! Location! Location!
This brings me on to my second point which is to thoroughly check the neighbourhood and ensure that it is somewhere that you want to live. If wild parties and a buzzing atmosphere are right up your street then the Holylands may be the place for you. Whereas if you wish to have a quiet and relaxing area then up the Malone Road may be more suited. It is important that you take your time and do your research into an area. Decide what factors are important for the student lifestyle you wish to live and choose your area accordingly.
- Thoroughly check the property
It is no secret that student houses have a reputation for being stereotypically, let’s say less than desirable living spaces. However, you do not have to live in a damp and dirty property purely because you are a student. Ensure that you thoroughly check the property for any damp, smoke alarms, fire doors and the type of heating it has. You are perfectly within your rights to flag up any issues that you may have with the house to the landlord. Don’t forget, just because you are a student that does not mean that you have no tenancy rights.
To read your rights as a tenant and the rights of a landlord go to http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/landlord-and-tenant-obligations
- Don’t waste time
Whilst this may seem like an obvious tip, it is surprising how easy it is to leave house hunting to the last minute. It is a much better idea to start looking for accommodation early and get it out of the way. This not only means that you are more likely to get the house in the area that you want; but it is also a huge weight off your shoulders.
Despite all of the stress that comes with house hunting, don’t forget to have fun with it. Moving in with your friends is one of the most enjoyable experiences that you will have as a student so don’t get too stressed out. For more advice on house hunting you can go to www.qubsu.org.uk/advicecentre or alternatively you can visit the second floor of the Student’s Union for some face to face advice.