house hunting tips

There is a myth in the student market that if you don't sign for a house early you'll miss out, this is not true and could cause you issues in the future. We advise you to wait until after Christmas before you sign on the dotted line. Spend time beforehand to make sure you know where you want to live, how much it will cost (including bills), that you like the house, and that you are unlikely to fall out with those you want to live with. Once you sign that contract it's not usually possible to get out of your contract.

Use our advice below and why not attend some of our housing events to gear yourselves up to be the best-informed renters you can be!

Where to look

Home Run :  Home Run is an accreditation scheme run by the Union. Accredited landlords advertise a range of houses and flats and sign up to minimum standards. One of the big benefits of using them is that Home Run landlords have never charged fees to students. Visit the Home Run website here

Alternatively, you can use one of the many lettings agencies in the city. Most of these charge fees to students at the moment, so make sure what you will be expected to pay before you pick an agent. With effect from 1st June 2019,  there are restrictions on what landlords and agents can charge fees for, and on the amount of fees,  in any new tenancy signed after that date. If you signed a tenancy before then which includes fees, up to 31 May 2020 you can still be charged the fees set out in the agreement you signed. 

Think about what sort of area you might want to live in and check some areas out before you start shortlisting houses. Things to consider:

  • Transport links to campus and placements
  • Parking, if you have a car
  • Availabiilty of facilities  which are important to you
  • Type of housing - modern, or older style?
  • Typical size of houses

Click here for a map of the Norwich showing the main student housing areas and bus routes

Finding housemates

Not everyone wants to share with the same people you shared a flat with in your first year. You may want to share with just one or two others, to form a bigger group, live with others from your course or make a completely fresh start.

Whether you are looking for a single room, or put together a big group, the Union has options to help you:

The Home Run message board – once you have signed up with Home Run you can use the message board to find a room or advertise a spare room. Also look out for Union Find a Housemate events. These take place during the main house hunting period and are a great chance to meet potential housemates in a relaxed sociable atmosphere. 

If a house share isn’t for you, other options include:

  • University residences – check with the Accommodation office to see what they have available
  • Renting a room from a resident landlord – see our info guide Renting a Room from a Resident Landlord for more information and an outline of the different rights and responsibilities for tenants that live with their landlord.
  • Each year, UEA Student Support Services advertises posts for “Senior Residents” – these are posts where free University accommodation is provided in exchange for providing guidance and support to students living in residences

What to look for

Only you know what sort of house you want to live in. Agree what the essential features you need are, the area you want to live in, then shortlist before you go out to view. Our top tips:

  • Make sure that everyone in the group sees the house before committing to a tenancy agreement.
  • Don’t sign a tenancy agreement unless you are completely happy that you understand the agreement and can afford the rent and bills
  • Ask questions – For example check there is a valid gas safety certificate, and is there a proper smoke alarm system?

Watch this video for the main things to look for when house-hunting and warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:

Here’s a link to a handy downloadable checklist to use when you are looking round properties.

Look out for the Union house-hunting guide which is full of handy tips – you can get a copy from the Advice Service.

Found a house?

Before you sign anything make sure you fully understand your tenancy agreement. Make an appointment with an Advice Worker to explain it and answer any questions you have.

This video sets out some of the important things you need to know about tenancy agreements:

Here’s a link to our leaflet on guarantors and some alternative options if a suitable guarantor cannot be found.

You can also expect your landlord/agent to ask to see your original ID to verify that you have the right to rent in the UK. This is a legal requirement for landlords/agents. See our leaflet on Right to Rent for further information on applicable ID.

Know before your sign.

Our advice is never sign a tenancy agreement until you know exactly what you are signing up to. In most cases, once you have signed you are legally bound to that contract and it's not possible to leave the contract early, even if you have changed your mind or fallen out with your housemates. See our downloadable guide on Tenancy Agreements which contains information on what tenancy agreements are, their legal status and some of the things to look out for.


House Hunting events!

During the academic year, we'll be running a number of events to help you be the best prepared you can be for entering the rental market. Click below on the event tabs to find out more.