* Before you do anything contact your university to see if they have a dedicated Accommodation Office/advice service – if so, they are likely to have an idea of the properties that are still available and will be able to give you the inside track on the most student-friendly local letting agents;
* Find out about shared accommodation – a lot of universities also have specific schemes to help students group together – this is the best way to save money when renting and can be a great chance to meet people early on and make new friends;
* Set your budget – before commencing your search, decide how much you can afford based on your budget for the whole year – there’s no point wasting your time looking at properties that are out of your price range;
* Do your research – set aside a couple of days to visit the area and carry out your search. Get in contact with as many local letting agents as possible to give yourself the widest choice, and familiarise yourself with the area in terms of local amenities and its proximity to the university;
* Decide on your priorities – price or location – it may be cheaper to rent a place further away from the university/town centre, but you may end up paying the difference in public transport if it is too far to walk. You will need to plan your route into campus and determine how much it will cost;
* Take your time – students often end up in poor accommodation because they settle on the first thing they see. Don’t be rushed into a decision – student properties have come on along way in recent years so you shouldn’t have to move into a house that is in a bad condition or clearly needs a lot of work.
Before you move in
* Insist that any necessary repairs are carried out before you move in – agree it with the agent before signing the contract and inform the landlord in writing. Follow up to ensure work has been carried out before your move-in date;
* Notify the relevant utility companies of the change in occupancy and agree how the bills will be split – if your name is on the bill, ultimately you are responsible for paying it so it is advisable to divide them up between all residents;
* Arrange contents insurance and a TV licence – if you suffer a break in you could find yourself with no belongings and no compensation, as well as leaving yourself open to fines;
* Notify the Council Tax Department of your address and that you are a full-time student – students are exempt from paying any council tax, but only if you let your relevant office know and can offer proof, in the form of a letter from your university
Steve Lees, Head of Marketing at email4property.co.uk, said: "Starting university can be an exciting but daunting time, especially if your university halls are oversubscribed or you have been allocated a place through clearing and are unable to secure a room in halls.
"However, the most important thing is not to panic – there will be a number of people in your position and there will still be properties available for rent.
"The first step is to contact your university student union, which will be able to put you in touch with other people in a similar position, or possibly advise you on properties that still have rooms available. If you can’t find a property through your university then you should contact a number of local lettings agents, who are likely to have a range of properties available and will be able to assist you in your search. There are still several weeks until term starts and if you get organised and act quickly, there is plenty of time to find and secure the right property."
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