When viewing a house, try to look beyond the student belongings (and any mess!) to see what the house will look like when vacant.
DO NOT ACCEPT A PROPERTY IF THE LANDLORD REFUSES TO SHOW A CURRENT GAS SAFETY CERTIFICATE - FAULTY GAS APPLIANCES ARE LETHAL. IF ONCE YOU HAVE MOVED IN YOU SUSPECT A GAS LEAK OR SMELL GAS, TELEPHONE THE NATIONAL GRIDS FREE GAS EMERGENCY NUMBER AT ANY TIME - 0800 111 999.
Students prefer to be as close as possible to Campus but this should not be the sole criteria when deciding whether to accept a property.
In general, if an area has a high proportion of large properties, many will have been converted into bed-sit accommodation and there may be a higher risk of burglaries and other crime in those areas.
Familiarise yourself with the local area. Never accept accommodation without viewing it first. If the house is occupied at the time of viewing, ask the tenants if they have had any problems with the house, area or landlord.
Check what provision there is for detection and dealing with fires, eg; smoke detectors, fire doors, fire blanket etc.
In large properties accommodating 5 or more tenants or houses with rooms above the first floor, it is vital that there are adequate means of escape, fire alarm system and fire doors to delay the spread of fire. If fire doors and fire alarms with fire panels are not fitted in this type of property, the landlord will be in breach of the Environmental Health regulations and you will be at risk if there is a fire.
Gas or electric central heating is the most efficient form of heating.
Some properties still have individual heaters in the bedrooms. This can be more expensive to run and gas fires in bedrooms can be dangerous!
Be safety conscious!
Check the security of the front and back doors, ground floor windows etc.
Is there a burglar alarm?
Check the location and the safety of the walk to Queen's Campus.
SIGNS OF DAMP
Yellowish water marks on walls. Wallpaper peeling off and the plaster crumbling when touched.
In ground floor rooms it is probably rising damp, which could mean the house does not have a damp proof course.
If it is at the top of the walls upstairs, it is probably caused by the more minor problem of leaking gutters or missing roof tiles.
Black mould in bathrooms is quite common, especially where the house has a bathroom extension on the ground floor with three outside walls. This is often caused by condensation rather than damp, due to lack of heating and ventilation in the room.
FURNITURE & SOFT FURNISHINGS
Since January 1997, all landlords have been legally obliged to provide soft furnishings (eg mattresses and 3 piece suites) which comply with the 1988 Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations. There should be a label on each item of soft furnishing stating that it complies with the above regulation. Soft furnishings manufactured before 1988 are a fire hazard as they can ignite easily and give out toxic fumes when burning. If you are concerned whether an item of furniture complies with the regulations, contact the landlord.
Furniture and fittings should be serviceable and clean but are unlikely to be new.
The basic requirements are:
Lounge - 3 piece suite or easy chairs (enough seating for all tenants)
Kitchen - Sink, electric or gas cooker, fridge, freezer, appropriate amound of cupboards and work surfaces for the number of tenants.
Bedroom - Bed, wardrobe, drawers, table and chair for studying. Bed linen is not usually provided.
Bathroom - Check whether there is a shower and what facilities there are for heating the water. A gas boiler is more economical to run than an electric immersion heater.
If a property only has the basic provision, the rent level should reflect this. Standards and facilities within student houses are rising. The majority of properties have central heating, a shower and a good standard of furniture and fittings. Landlords often provide a washing machine, microwave and even tumble driers. Do not be afraid to ask the landlord if he will provide these if they are not already in the house.