It’s true to say that COVID-19 has created a lot of unknowns and at this stage, no one can predict what life will be like and what movement will be allowed come September. But what about accommodation for next year? Some will have already signed a contract and committed to a house for the next academic year but many students are yet to put pen to paper.
Do I look for a house now or do I wait?
If you have not got a house in place for September yet, it would be perfectly reasonable to wait until it’s clearer what will be happening in September. UEA is currently delivering teaching and assessment online and whilst we all hope to be back on campus ready for week zero, we just don’t know what the future holds. At the moment, there is a good supply of student accommodation in Norwich and there is no reason at present to expect that to change. If face to face teaching resumes in September we believe you should be able to find something suitable closer to the start of term.
However, whilst we expect there to be enough student accommodation in Norwich for September, there is no guarantee the same variety of accommodation will remain available that there is right now and you may need to compromise on your ideal location, type, size or quality of accommodation.
Remember whatever you decide, once you have signed your contract you are likely to be locked for the full term (usually 12 months) regardless if you move in September or not. There have been no changes to legislation or a tenant’s liability for rent due to COVID-19.
There is no right answer to whether you look for your accommodation for the next academic year now or wait, it’s a calculated judgement on what you think is best for your own particular situation.
Whether now or later we’re here to help you through the renting proses and below we have some key tips to get you started.
Who to live with
We often presume that our best friends would be great to live with. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Our advice workers often see students who have fallen out with their housemates and once you have signed the contract there's often no getting out.
When deciding who to live with make sure you really get to know both your and your prospective housemate's bad habits and talk openly about these. Some habits can be ok to put up with on occasion but when you start living together can be magnified and insufferable.
Some examples of things to consider is –
- Do you like to party a lot or do you prefer a night in with Disney +?
- What course do you all study? If you are a nursing student and on a night placement, do you really want to live with the person who is up at 6:30am with the hair dryer blasting?
- Will you shop or cook individually or do it as a whole house (can be cheaper)?
- Are you ok with other people eating your food?
Most housing contracts are made with a group of people and come with “Joint and Several Liability”. This means that everyone listed on the contract is responsible for each other. It doesn’t matter who broke the window or who left without paying rent, everyone is responsible. So you need to make sure you know and trust those you are planning to live with.
You may not have yet formed a group of people to live with. That’s ok, some students prefer to live with people they don’t know – although we do suggest you have some “getting to know you” meetings before you agree to live together. A great way to find people is through the Home Run message board and the official uea(su) housing group on Facebook where students can post and chat about forming a group.
Where to look
Unless you have a specific set of circumstances, UEA on-campus accommodation isn’t available to students beyond their first year. This means you will need to look to the private sector, but don’t worry – help is at hand: Home Run.
Home Run is an accreditation scheme for student accommodation in Norwich run by the Student Union on behalf of UEA students. Home Run has a range of Private Landlords, Estate Agents and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) across the city offering a variety of accommodation. Why does this matter? Every landlord and student accommodation type registered with Home Run has agreed to follow a set of minimum standards aimed at giving you the best living experience whilst you study in Norwich. You can search for accommodation on the Home Run website at uea.su/homerun.
If you haven’t lived in Norwich before then you might be wondering where most students choose to live and which areas are close to campus or the city centre. We can help with that too. Check out our video series ‘A guide to Norwich’ here.
What to look for
Only you know what sort of house you want to live in. Think about what sort of area you might want to live in and check some areas out before you start shortlisting accommodation. Things to consider:
- Do you want to live in a house, flat or private halls of residence
- Transport links to campus and placements
- Parking, if you have a car
- Availability of facilities which are important to you
- Typical size of house
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
- Look at your budget and make sure you are not stretching yourself beyond your means
- Ask questions – For example check there is a valid gas safety certificate, and is there a proper smoke alarm system?
Found a house - what next?
Once you have found a house there is some paper work that you and your landlord will need to complete.
Tenancy agreement – your landlord should provide you a copy of this and give you time to read it and get it checked before signing. Be very cautious of any landlord who puts pressure on you and be prepared to walk away. Good landlords never pressurise and if you’re feeling pressured and uncomfortable at this stage, what will they be like when you actually move in?
Guarantor agreement - most landlords require tenants to have a UK guarantor willing to guarantee they continue to pay your rent if you are unable to.
Right to rent checks - your landlord/agent will ask to see an original form of ID to verify that you have the right to rent in the UK. This is a legal requirement for landlords/agents to do whether you are from the UK, EU or are an international student.
Know before your sign.
Before you sign anything make sure you fully understand your tenancy agreement. 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.
If you have any questions at all about renting book an appointment with an advice worker. alternatively, you can download our renting information pack which brings together all of our housing advice leaflets into one handy download. download here.