Next up, for our mini-series of blogs in celebration of Housing Week, we'll be giving you all the tips and tools to help you work your way around house viewings, ensuring you're treated fairly and know what questions to ask, whether you're the one viewing the house, or the one expecting viewers in your current home.
At the SU we are here to help support students with your housing, whether that be on-campus halls, private halls or private housing in the local area. Our Advice Centre has an advisor dedicated to housing who you can get in touch with here, whether you are looking for housemates, have a hole in your roof, or need a contract checked, they are here to help!
This year I have launched a policy inquiry into housing to find out more about what students want from their accommodation and the support provided, it is hoped that the recommendations that are produced from this work will ultimately improve the student housing experience.
But firstly, we want to ensure that you know your rights when it comes to housing, which is why we have launched this mini blog series to make sure that you are being treated fairly and receiving the right information.
In this blog I will be providing the lowdown on private house viewings, what is expected of your landlord/estate agent, and what your rights are as a tenant.
Once you have spoken to a landlord/estate agent and have found a house that may work for you and your housemates, it is important that you attend a viewing. The pictures provided can often be out of date and you need to get a sense of the house you are looking to spend your student loan on for the next year.
There are a few key questions to ask and things to look out for when viewing properties:
Before you sign for your house, the landlord/estate agent should provide you with a number of documents and information. You have a right to receive those listed below, so if they are not shared with you, make an appointment with the SU Advice Centre and discuss your options.
You should receive:
Before signing there are also a number of aspects of renting that you should check so it doesn’t cause you problems later down the line. You should;
Make sure you are happy with the tenancy agreement. Don’t be afraid to question the meaning of certain clauses if you don’t understand them. You should not sign anything you are not 100% clear on! Finally, make use of our free contract checking service, which will save you lots of money, even if you’ve already signed!
There are cases in which viewings shouldn’t or don’t have to go ahead. If you think that this might apply to you, get in touch with our Advice Centre for guidance.
If your contract is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (most students), no one can enter your home without your permission unless there’s an emergency, like flooding. All viewings must be by appointment at a time that suits you (e.g. not just before an exam). It is not normal for agents/landlords to use their own keys and let themselves into your rented home. They must knock and wait to be allowed in and leave if there is no answer. You can always reschedule viewings.
You do not have to allow viewings if:
People should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. If any member of either the household being viewed or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed. All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household.
Stay in the know with the latest news and advice on our Housing Week Campaign Hub. We'll be publishing articles throughout the week, where you'll find tons of other useful information to help you with the entire housing process!
We appreciate the volume of information being sent your way could be quite overwhelming, so we've created a Coronavirus Hub to give you quick links to key advice, guidance, and our latest news updates. With dedicated pages for housing, academic, and welfare advice, as well as links to government advice and College FAQs, it's your one-stop-shop for all the vital information during this time.
The Advice Centre is a free, independent and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to ask for a phone appointment
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The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX