Being a student brings with it many challenges: the hard work, the hectic social life, and the fact that you're often a long way from home. But one of the most significant and important decisions you'll make while at university is where to live, and perhaps, more importantly, whom you’ll pay rent.
Choosing the right landlord can have ramifications for the rest of your university career. Living in great digs provides the ideal backdrop for you to do assignments and get lots of rejuvenating rest, while a bad landlord can indirectly derail your university career by delivering a shoddy level of service, and in the worst cases, abuse.
Choosing a great landlord is essential. So what traits should you look for when selecting one? Let’s take a look.
Trait #1: They Maintain Appropriate Distance
Ideally, you’d like your relationship with your landlord to be similar to the one that you have with your grocer: they’re available when you need them and happy to help, but they don’t want to be your friend, confidante, room-mate, or in extreme circumstances, lover.
Landlords should keep a professional distance. They should treat you for what you are: a client. And they should conduct their relationship with you as economic, not platonic, romantic or anything else. They’re there to provide a service, and you’re there to enjoy it: nothing more.
Trait #2: They Show Attention To Detail
Ideally, you’d like to know whether your landlord will be there for you when you need them in the future. You won’t know for sure until you call them during the first Christmas break to tell them that the boiler has broken down, but there are giveaway signs that you can look out for ahead of time.
One of these giveaways is attention to detail. A landlord who presents you with all the right documents provides you with correct information about the accommodation, and gives details about the strengths and limitations of the property, is probably also a landlord who is conscientious enough to help you when things go wrong.
Trait #3: They Have A Good Reputation
Although there are usually dozens of landlords offering students accommodation in most university cities, only a few will achieve a good reputation.
Finding out whether a landlord has a good reputation is relatively straightforward.
- Ask at your university. University administration offices usually keep tabs on who is a good landlord, and who is not. You can often find out who your university recommends if on-site accommodation is not available.
- Try using Housemates. Housemates is a free mobile app that connects students to verified landlords in cities across the UK to book their accommodation and see what a neighbourhood has to offer.
- Ask the people living there already. It’s rare that student digs are empty while you’re looking around. There’s usually somebody home. And even if there’s not, there’s nothing from stopping you from visiting at a later date to ask questions. Ask the students already living there how responsive a landlord has been when things have gone wrong, whether they have kept a professional distance, and how smoothly all the paperwork went.
Trait #4: They Have Excellent Communication Skills
A good landlord should be able to deal with all your most pressing questions and give you answers that make sense. Many landlords will discuss the strengths of their properties with you, but they may not be so willing to address the weaknesses. It’s important to be able to have contact with your landlord and Housemates provides a secure and professional point of contact if and when issues arise.
The mark of a good proprietor is somebody who can address your concerns regarding a prospective property while showcasing the positives. For instance, if a lack of double glazing is an issue for you, ask your landlord about how heating bills are charged and what solutions they have put in place to keep you warm during the winter. A good answer might be something like, “bills are included in the weekly rental cost, and there are heaters in all rooms which keep the air temperature above 20 degrees, even when it’s minus five outside.”
Trait #5: They Understand The Law
The law governing the relationship between student tenants and their landlords is highly detailed and, sometimes, complicated. Inevitably, disputes between tenants and landlords arise, so it’s important that the landlord understands how the law works so that they can advise tenants of their legal standing.
Knowing the law isn’t just a practical matter: it’s also an indication of the landlord’s willingness to provide high-quality accommodation. Landlords who are conscientious enough to read about tenants’ right and their responsibilities are also those most likely to provide the highest quality accommodation. When you meet your landlord, quiz them about things like whether all the essential amenities are functioning correctly, and whether they have safety-tested the gas supply.
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