It has been an absolute mission trying to get a house to live in for this year. Our journey started Christmas 2013 when the 5 of us decided that we would be living together for second year. Little did we know how difficult this whole process is.
Here is a little insight into what happened so hopefully future students don’t make the same mistakes.
Easter 2014 we decided we needed to start looking. We really had no clue about what we were doing. All we knew is that we needed a house and wanted to complete our search before exams started. However, letting agencies were not prepared to show us round any houses yet. Why? Because we wanted a year contract that began in September 2014 so that we did not pay for summer, but letting agencies only had houses available with a moving in date within the next 2 months. So we stopped our search and waited until we returned to University for third term. This is when the battle began.
We sat down as a 5 and decided what we were looking for before we took to the letting agencies of Hammersmith. (In hindsight we probably should have done this earlier!). We all wanted to pay as little as possible for the nicest house possible. We set a budget and a few things each of us would like- i.e. double beds, 2 bathrooms, a living space.
Our dream list looked something like this:
-5 Double Beds
Thats not asking much? Right?
Our first house we viewed was a bit of a disappointment. After seeing it though we saw a “To Let” sign on the same road. We called the number and was told that the house was only 2 bedrooms…a bit far off what we needed. However, there was a house we could view that afternoon with 5 bedrooms. Fantastic.
We went over to the second house and saw the house. OMG it was AMAAAAAZING. It was perfectly furnished and had everything on our list. It was our dream house in a dream location. It was on the market for £800 a week, but this was massively over our budget. We asked the agent if we could negotiate the price to which she said yes. We put down a holding deposit for the agreed negotiated price and waited to hear back with further details…but the further details never came. A group of 5 girls had put down an offer for £800 a week…and we lost the house.
It was a sad day and from then on we agreed to put down the asked price- we should have done this before but we just were so naive about the system. We assumed because we had put our deposit down first that we would be able to have first dibs. Apparently that was not how this letting agency worked.
The next house we fell in love with turned out to have a super dodgy landlord and none of us where happy with what was occurring in the letting agency office.
We left looking for houses until after exams…
We saw houses that were HORRIFIC. Not just ugly student houses, but houses with infestations and roof problems. Our hope was lost. We finally found a house in our budget that we all loved, but we had to compromise:
Our house now has:
-4 Double Beds, 1 Single
-No living space
-1 Shower, 2 Toilets
It was the first house we had seen in weeks that wasn’t disgusting, and that we all liked. We had been walking up and down the roads of Hammersmith for hours on end hoping we would find a suitable house…that’s how desperate we were. So we put down a holding deposit.
No one tells you how much paperwork is involved in house contracts. Initial contracts, deposits, full background checks, guarantors, contracts, admin fees…
AND THEN…electricity, gas, council tax stuff through the uni, water, WiFi…
I am exhausted with this house and we haven’t even moved in yet!!! It has been a long journey but I am actually so excited (despite my grumbles) to move in. I will be living with 4 amazing girls/chefs, and I can’t wait.
Good luck future house renting students, I hope you play the rental game better than us. Next year we will know the drill and be a lot wiser. Or, I think I will just camp in the library and save this hassle. At least I can leave the library when I want, and not have to beg for an “escape clause” in a contract. (I still am unsure what this even entails…)