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Housing Week: How to Find Accommodation

As the search begins to find your accommodation, we have put together an FAQ to help point you in the right direction to make sure you're up to speed when house hunting.

 

How do I find off campus accommodation?

Firstly it's best to have a chat with your prospective housemates and make a list of requirements. For example, what is the maximum you would like to pay on rent? Do you want bills included in the rent? Once you have a clear idea of what you all want, the first place to visit is the HouseSearch. Here you can find the properties local landlords wish to advertise directly to students. This platform is run by the Students’ Union and part of what we do is make sure that landlords adhere to certain minimum standards to help guarantee quality for students.

You can also visit local estate agents and register with them, so when a suitable property comes up they will take you on a viewing.

In Egham, you will find YourmoveAlphaHoddersBaron and Nevin and Wells.

In Englefield Green, you will find AspenBrownsTownends and Foxley and Fitch and Students on the Green. Each will have a portfolio of students’ housing.

You can also visit rightmove where all these agencies advertise their properties.

 

What is a Guarantor?

A guarantor is a person based in the UK who will act as a safeguard for the landlord if you do not pay your rent. This is usually a parent or guardian. NB: Failing to pay your rent will be a breach of contract and you could face being taken to court.

 

What is an Admin Fee?

An administration fee is what an agency charges to carry out all the necessary paper work for your tenancy such as making the contract, carrying out the referencing, contacting your guarantor. Agencies will charge different administrations fees, and these can be quite pricey! Remember, an administration fee is different from your deposit or holding fee.

 

What should I look out for when signing a tenancy agreement?

Make sure that all the details are right, including the dates for the move in and the names of the tenants spelt correctly. Make yourself aware of any clauses that include charges. For example, is there a clause that says you need to do the gardening or carry out a professional clean when you leave the property? If you are unsure, you can bring your contract to be checked over at our Contract Checking Service, run by our Housing Assistants at the Students’ Union.

 

Do I have to pay council tax?

Full time students are exempt from paying council tax. But remember that when your time as a student finishes you will be liable for council tax even if you still live in your student property.

 

Who do I report maintenance issues to?

When moving in to a property, it is important that you know exactly who to speak to if you have a maintenance issue. If the Estate Agent manages the property, you will need to speak to them. If they do not manage the property, you will need to speak to your landlord. Get this confirmed before signing the agreement.

 

What is the DPS, TDS and My Deposit?

The Deposit Protection Service (DPS), The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and My Deposits are three schemes created by the government in order to protect a tenant’s deposit. It is a legal requirement for your landlord to place the deposit into one of these schemes within 30 days. If it is not, you can potentially sue your landlord for up to three times the amount of the deposit you originally paid so make sure you know where your deposit is being kept!

 

What is a Gas Safety Certificate?

It is a legal requirement for your landlord to carry out an annual Gas Safety Certificate. This checks that all the Gas appliances at the property are functioning and are not dangerous. You have a right to obtain a copy of this.

 

I’m struggling to pay my rent. Is there anyone I can ask for help?

If you are having issues paying your rent, the University can help in certain circumstances. There are a number or grants that you can apply for. Visit Student Services here to find out more.

 

Where else can I look for a property?

If you have exhausted the local estate agents, there are a few other options. You can use websites such as Spare Rooms

If you use these, please call Runnymede Borough Council to check that the property has been accredited!