Living privately off-campus Living privately off-campus

Introduction

The purpose of this page is to help you identify the things you need to think about as you make arrangements for moving into private sector accommodation and to point you in the direction of further information and advice.

Where to find somewhere to live Where to find somewhere to live

The best place to start is the Students' Union.  They operate Home Let and Home Run in Union House.  There, you can find details of hundreds of places which all have gas and electrical safety certificates and, if applicable, an HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) licence. The Union provides a range of information including a House Hunting Guide and Minimum Standards for Landlords. Once you have found a place, you can have the terms and conditions of your agreement explained to you by one of the advice workers before you sign. The Home Run housing list is normally released in January each year and is available online via the Home Run home page which can be found here. You can contact the Housing Administrator by email (homerun@uea.ac.uk) or by phoning 01603 592505/01603 593230.

There are a number of other letting agencies which offer properties suitable for students and the local papers (Eastern Daily Press and Evening News) also advertise properties to let in their Tuesday editions.

When to start house-hunting When to start house-hunting

Many people will tell you that you need to get your housing for the next year sorted out in January. This is when the Union holds its Housing Event and when lots of properties go on the Housing List. However, there is no need to panic. Even if you leave it until the summer (or even September) to look, you will still find somewhere, although the choice might be more limited and the friends that you might want to share with may already have made their arrangements.

Where to live Where to live

Think carefully about where you live. You may have more choice if you go beyond the obvious student areas such as the Golden Triangle and rents could be lower. Norwich has a good public transport system so think about living within easy reach of a bus route, particularly the 25, 25A routes, which go directly to the campus. If you have ever lived in UEA residences, live in NR2 or within a mile of campus, you will not be allowed a parking permit and will have to pay visitors' parking charges if you use a car to get into the University. An annual bus pass covering First Bus zones 1-5 costs only £215 in 2015/16 and provides unlimited travel. The bus pass is available via the "First Mobile Ticket App" available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Who to live with Who to live with

This can be one of the most difficult things to sort out. You may have lived with people in residences (probably only since the end of September), but how well do you really know them? In residences, you have a Senior Resident to call on if things go wrong, cleaners to look after the shared areas and places to go 24/7 if you want to get away from your flat mates for an hour. Living in a small house is different and can put strains on friendships. Before you commit yourself to living with someone, you need to be sure that your lifestyles are compatible and that you have agreed a few basic ground rules. For example, if you like clean and tidy surroundings, do you really want to share a kitchen with someone who only washes up when there is nowhere else to pile the dirty dishes?

Don't be panicked into sharing with people from your corridor if you don't really get on with them. Home Run will be organising housing socials and provides a house share message board which puts people who are looking to form a house share in touch with one another. This is available from the Advice Centre or online at www.homerunstudentpad.co.uk/Pages/Homelet.

Damage Deposits Damage Deposits

Since April 2007 any deposits paid to a landlord or agent by an Assured Shorthold tenant (most students in shared rented accommodation) are protected under a government authorised deposit scheme. Within 14 days of paying the deposit, your landlord or agent is required to give you details of how your deposit will be protected. Further information about damage deposits and their return is available from the Advice Centre in Union House.

Inventories Inventories

When you move in you should be given an inventory which lists everything in the property belonging to the landlord and its condition. You should check that every item on the inventory is present and you should note any damage such as cigarette burns on the carpet or chipped paintwork. If you have a camera with a date facility, you could record any damage. Once the inventory is agreed, sign it before returning it to the agent or landlord and make sure you all keep a copy. When you move out, the contents will be checked against the inventory and the cost of making good damage or replacing missing items deducted from your deposits. Normally, the inventory will be checked when the last person moves out. If you move out before your housemates and things are damaged after you leave, you could still be liable for a share of the cost. The landlord cannot withhold your deposit to cover the cost of normal "wear and tear" although views on what constitutes "wear and tear" may differ.

Financial Arrangements Financial Arrangements

Choose accommodation you can afford and be open with prospective housemates about what you can afford before you commit yourself. You are likely to have to pay either full or part rent over the summer as well as a deposit (usually one month's rent); these charges should be specified in the contract. You may also have to pay agent's fees. Many landlords will insist that you pay your rent by standing order or direct debit. Most tenancy agreements provide for individual payments by each of the tenants but occasionally, payments are made through a lead tenant. You will probably have to provide a guarantor but make sure that they only accept responsibility for your rent and not that of your housemates.

As well as the rent, you will need to think about bills – gas, electricity, telephone, broadband, water, TV licence and hire charges for equipment such as a washing machine. Gas, electricity and water meters should be read the day you move in and the day you move out to ensure that you only pay for what you and your house mates have used. If you ever receive an estimated account read the meter yourself and ask for a revised bill. Arguments can be avoided if you agree up front how you are going to pay the bills. You might want to set up a joint account for paying household bills, but make sure you all agree what is to be covered and how much you will all pay into the account. You should ensure that at least 2 signatures are needed for any payment from the account to avoid disputes. You could ask for each of the utilities bills to be put in everyone's names but if someone decided not to pay their share, anyone whose name is on the bill could be pursued for the whole amount outstanding. An alternative is to put each bill in a different tenant's name to spread the risk. At the end of the day, those whose names are on the bills are legally responsible for payment.

Insurance Insurance

The property itself and the landlord's fixtures and fittings should be covered by the landlord's insurance but you will need personal possessions insurance. Students have very high ownership of computers and other electrical items and the cost of replacing your belongings if the property is burgled could be very high. Shop around and bear in mind that the cost of cover can depend on whether the property is entirely communal or made up of a series of individually lockable rooms with limited communal space.

Council Tax Council Tax

When you move in, you are likely to receive a demand for Council Tax. If everyone in the property is a full-time student, the property will be exempt for the duration of your course.  Please note, many tenancy agreements start before and/or go beyond the course dates.  You will be liable for Council Tax for these weeks either side of your course dates.  You will need to contact the council and provide copies of your Council Tax certificate (this is issued at registration). If anyone in the house is not a full-time student, the property becomes liable for Council Tax but since April 2004, students are no longer "jointly and severally liable" for Council Tax. The full-time students in the property will not be liable for Council Tax but there will still be a bill for the house to be paid and it is up to members of the household to decide how to split it.

Be a good neighbour Be a good neighbour

When you move into private accommodation you will become part of a community including residents with a wide range of different lifestyles and levels of tolerance to noise and other disturbances, particularly during the evening and at night. Some will have small children; others may be elderly or ill and need to go to bed early. Some may have to get up very early in the morning, or work night shifts and need to sleep during the day. Few of your neighbours will have the luxury of being able to sleep in after a late night partying.

 

Each year, local residents and Councillors contact the University to complain about the behaviour of their student neighbours. This damages the University's reputation and that of students in general, and takes up a great deal of University time. Please help us to show the local community that students are responsible adults and respect others by acting in accordance with the following simple guidelines:

  • make an effort to get to know your neighbours as soon as you move in. If you have established a friendly relationship it is easier to negotiate ‘ground rules' for mutually acceptable behaviour

  • if you want to have an occasional party, stick to Friday or Saturday nights, and warn neighbours in advance. Keep music levels down, particularly after 11pm

  • ask any guests to be quiet when they leave, and not slam house or car doors. If possible, ask taxis to pick up and drop off on a main road away from where people might be sleeping

  • if you live in a terraced or semi-detached house, remember that most of these have very poor sound insulation so try not to slam doors, shout or play loud music in your room

  • avoid shouting, drinking or playing football in the street, or behaving in any way that might cause offence

  • if you have a car, be considerate about parking. Elderly or disabled neighbours and those with small children may need to park close to their own house

  • keep your garden and the area around your house tidy and rubbish free. Use the local recycling facilities – try not to collect bottles and other rubbish in your front garden. A house that looks run down attracts criminal activity, and rubbish may entice rats and other vermin.

Remember that the University's Disciplinary Regulations also applies to behaviour off-campus. The University works very closely with the police and the local Environmental Health and Neighbourhood Warden Teams to try to resolve community disputes involving students. Serious or persistent breaches may lead to prosecution and/or UEA disciplinary penalties.

Don't forget that if you feel that you are the victim of your neighbour's behaviour, we will also support you in finding a resolution.

Who to contact for further advice Who to contact for further advice

  • A financial adviser in the Student Support Service for advice on budgeting or any of the other financial issues mentioned in this leaflet. Appointments available between 10.00 and 15.00, email fac@uea.ac.uk or tel. 01603 593290 or 593184

  • An advice worker in Home Run in Union House for advice on house hunting, to go through a contract before signing or if the landlord does not return your deposit. Drop in, email homerun@uea.ac.uk or tel. 01603 592505

  • The Student Support Centre for advice on resolving problems with neighbours. Drop in, email Alaister.Walker@uea.ac.uk or tel. 01603 593420.

There are also a number of letting agencies which offer properties suitable for students and the local papers (Eastern Daily Press and Evening News) also advertise properties to let in their Tuesday editions.