My top five tips for flat-sharing
In my first two years at UAL I lived in halls of residence and, although I enjoyed staying there, I decided in my final year that I wanted to live in a small flat with a few close friends and see a different side of living in London. It was a little daunting at first, searching for my first home to rent in the ‘real’ world, but hopefully these five top tips will help you see it’s easy once you understand the basics.
If it’s too good to be true, double-check it’s real
It’s important to make sure when you go to rent a place that the agency or landlord you rent your chosen home with is legit. Unfortunately – if the deal looks too good to be true, it usually is. The great thing is, as a UAL student if you are feeling unsure you can check the ULHS accommodation database of approved landlords and agentsto ensure you don’t get stung! Also never agree to rent a place you haven’t viewed in person as pictures can be misleading. You should never exchange any money until you are confident this is the right home for you.
Make sure you read the contract carefully
Once you have found your new home, you will be presented with a contract to sign and required to pay the discussed agency and reference fees, as well as a deposit. With any contract you come across in life, always read it carefully. If you don’t quite understand parts of the contract, ask the Private Accommodation Advisor at Accommodation Servicesto read and double-check it for you! I did.
Visit local estate agencies and register with them
Although the internet is always our first point of call, I found that while sites such as Rightmove allow you to get an idea of price and location, most of the properties online are often snapped up before you can even book a viewing. Visit local estate agents in the area(s) you are thinking of moving to and speak to them. They’re friendly and once you are registered as a prospective tenant, they will update you on all the new properties within your specified criteria, helping you search for a home and taking the pressure off a little.
Share the bills strategically
Once you’ve found your ideal home, signed the contract, and paid your deposit and fees, the last thing you want to think about are bills. However it’s good to manage them early on so you know where you stand financially. I found the best way to do this was to each be responsible for one bill. For instance in my house I managed the internet bill, while my three other flatmates managed the water, electricity and gas bills. We then worked out the difference and paid each other the left over sum each month. We found this worked really well as we only had to worry about one bill each. I’d also highly recommend that if you like having Wi-Fi at home, you should start planning which company you’d like to connect with before you move in, as it can take two to three weeks to set up the internet. I used Broadband Choicesto find the best deals in my area.
Respect each other and the shared areas.
Whether you’re friends before you move in with your flatmates, or become friends while you live together, it’s important to respect each other otherwise these friendships could turn sour. Keep the common area of the house tidy and take it in turns to clean the house, don’t just leave it to one person all the time. A cleaning rota could be a good way to avoid this, or perhaps you could all clean together. Also, something to bear in mind is how your new flatmates feel about having guests in the house, as you don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable and they’ll appreciate you asking them first.