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Tips for Student Tenants: Red Flags to Look Out for When Viewing Your Next Property

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Data shows that UK universities are facing a shortage of up to 350,000 beds. When you’re looking for accommodation, it can be easy to rush into a property just to secure a place for the coming year. This can leave you and your flatmates with more problems than it’s worth. From damp ceilings to too-quiet landlords, there are some red flags you’ll want to be aware of when finding your next student flat. 

Chris Martin, sales director at Skip Hire UK, offering skip hire in Bristol and other locations, said: “It can be easy to be pressured into signing a tenancy, especially as a student. But it is important that you take a bit of extra caution when viewing properties and find the right one for you that doesn’t signal red flags about the landlord.”

Excess damp

One indicator that you want to be aware of is damp. While damp can be a quite common issue, it isn’t something you want to be dealing with as a student. Not only can black mould, which comes from damp, cause you health issues, but it can also become a problem for your deposit when you request it back. If the damp grows, even out of your control, some landlords might use it as a means of securing your deposit. 

A landlord who is unwilling to solve the damp is a red flag. You don’t want to be dealing with someone who doesn’t care for their tenants or the property, so if you’re finding damp all over the walls and ceilings during a walk-through, look elsewhere. 

It is also important to check behind furniture, too. Damp and mould can be hidden behind cupboards, headboards, and more. If you’re not checking these spaces, you might sign a lease agreement on a property that is not fit enough for you to live in. If you notice fresh white paint in the corners of a room, this can also indicate covering up damp. If your landlord is trying to hide the damp from you during the viewing, you’ll likely not have a good experience living there. 

You can’t talk to the landlord

Another red flag when checking your student property is not being able to talk to the landlord. While many landlords might use an agency to do viewings and lettings, being able to contact your landlord is a must during your tenancy. Make sure to ask whether you can have your landlord’s email address or number if you were to sign a tenancy and how involved they are with the property. 

A landlord who is hands-off on the property can sometimes mean they will have a delayed response or no response at all if you’re having any issues. If the agency covers all of this for them, it isn’t always a problem; just make sure to check if they’re a trusted agency and the reviews from previous students online. 

Broken furniture

Broken furniture is another “no” when it comes to finding a new property. You don’t want to be sleeping on a broken bed or be held responsible for the damage at the end of the year, so make sure everything is in place and intact. 

Sometimes, items do get broken, but if you’re viewing the property and it hasn’t been replaced, it is a red flag. Try asking for a second viewing, and if the furniture isn’t fixed, it is most likely it will never be. 

Broken furniture can be a sign of disrespect, and the previous tenants might have had their reasons for not caring for their place. And if they’ve broken furniture or punched walls, you don’t want to know what you might find if you were to move in! It is best to find a place that has everything you need without any damage. 

The same goes if the property is dirty, inside and out. If you’re finding bins with piles of rubbish that haven’t been taken care of, a dirty kitchen, or worse, you might not want to move in. Especially in big cities, such as London, where pests can become a problem in tight flats, you’ll want to know there isn’t any rubbish or dirt that’s attracting unwelcome visitors. 

Moving into your student house should be a fun time. It is a time to spread your wings and look after a place yourself without your parent’s help. You get to live with flatmates you choose and enjoy your own space. But you don’t want to be pressured into letting a place you’re going to hate for the next year. 

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