The accommodation rush has again descended upon Exeter, and this time to try and aid the students stress, the Students’ Guild are running a campaign to aid students in finding houses, with a focus on first-year students who have not had to deal with this before.
One second-year student has said that “it’s hard not to worry about it when everyone else starts looking for houses so early – you worry that if you’re not looking by the end of October, then you’re going to miss out on the best houses”. With this in mind, the Guild have broken this process down to what has been dubbed the ‘4 Ps’ – Price, Place, People and Paperwork. This model emphasises the importance of not signing any tenancy agreements until you feel fully comfortable with it, as there can be a tendency to feel rushed into picking the first house you view – it is important to remember that, despite how it may feel, there are lots of options.
VP Welfare and Diversity Kat Karamani has said of the campaign “It can be very easy for students to rush into accommodation with people they’ve only known for a month or so in order to bag a house 2 minutes from campus. The campaign is being run to ensure that students think about all the aspects of living in the private sector as well as alternate types of accommodation; the 4ps are useful for this. It is aimed to remind students that there are enough places to live in Exeter and to try to curb the panic that so many feel.”
The first step, according to the Guild’s advice, is to find the right people you want to live with. This is arguably the most important part; although it can be a little hard to judge beforehand, it is crucial you get on with them, and are confident you will still get on with them next year
With your ideal housemates selected, you can then move onto working within a certain price budget, agreeing how much everyone is happy to pay before you move onto considering which area you would like to look into living in. Student houses can hugely vary by area, with regards to pricing, availability, and walking distance from the University.
With all this decided, the final step is then to sign the tenancy agreement. This is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord, and it is therefore highly important to read through the contract carefully.
Any students struggling with the legal aspects can bring these documents to the Guild’s Advice Unit to examine before signing. Students often find that this stage can feel rushed, stating from experiences in previous years that “you feel pressured to accept the first housing offer you get, and as time goes on you feel trapped, because you’ve signed a contract but the people you are living with aren’t who you thought they were.”
Another issue extant in recent years has been increasing house prices for those properties let through agencies, arguably making it harder for those students who are trying to stick to a certain budget.
One second-year student said that “prices are so expensive compared to other University’s my friends are at, and it’s so difficult to find somewhere close and reasonably priced.”
This begins the debate between choosing a house using an agency – arguably a ‘safer’ option – or through a private landlord, who will often provide just as good a service at a cheaper price.
If all this sounds a little overwhelming, the Students Guild is holding an Accommodation Fair between 11:00 and 16:00 in the Great Hall on Tuesday 21 November, where landlords will be present for further information on houses.
However, some students may feel that this is too little too late, as many are already feeling the impetus to have housing sorted by that point in the term. In many ways, it’s important not to get too swept up in the housing excitement – once word gets around that properties are being snapped up, the temptation to hurry the process can override sensible decision-making.
Although it may feel like there is a sudden rush for houses, it is important to remember that many houses have yet to be released onto the market, and many agencies release houses in regular batches to avoid them all going at once. So, although there may not be time to procrastinate, there is room for reason.