A set of keys

What to ask in a house viewing

Chances are, you’ve probably never had to go to a house viewing, ask all the important questions, get all the details and then make the decision to live there. House hunting season comes around quickly at university, and as a fresher, it’s just a mere few months before you must decide who you’re living with and finding a house.

House viewings are almost like the epitome of responsibly, where yourself and friends have to force yourselves into the shoes of an adult, questioning bills, payment options and contracts. It can be daunting.

Prior to going on any viewings, it’s a good idea to ask around to find out more about the landlords you could have. Utilise all the information that the university provides and pop along to the housing fayre. That extra information and help can really make a difference.

But here are a few tips on the type of questions you should be asking when you go to view a house.

What’s included? Do we get a TV licence? What about utilities?

One of the most important things to ask is for information regarding exactly what is included in the rent. Some houses might cost £80 and week and you immediately think “bargain!” without realising that perhaps internet and a TV licence aren’t included in that price. So ask:

  • What is included in the rent?
  • Does the rent include an internet package and if so what is the provider?
  • Is a TV licence included in the rent?
  • Does the TV licence cover all the rooms or just the communal spaces?
  • Does the rent include electricity and water? If so, is there a cap to these and what is the cap? Is there a way of finding out how much we’ve used? Is the cap per person or just for the whole household?

How do we pay?

Another vital thing to make sure you know is how the company or landlord you’re with sets up their payment options. This includes frequency of payment: monthly or in termly instalments, and how they would like to receive the money. A few questions include:

  • Can we pay in instalments when our student loan comes in?
  • Do we have to pay anything before we move in or before we get our student loans? (Some landlords require a month’s rent due before student loans come in).
  • How do we pay the rent? Can we do it through an online system, bank transfer etc?

What about a deposit? How do we get it back at the end of our tenancy?

Thirdly, ask about damage deposits! Almost every landlord will require a damage deposit for the property and these can range from as little as £100 all the way up to £350 or even £400! Hopefully, in the end, you’ll be getting this money back, but if you’re having to shell out hundreds of pounds before you move in, it’s well worth checking how much it will be.

  • Is there a damage deposit and how much is it?
  • When do you require it by? What’s the deadline to pay it?
  • How do we pay it, what’s the process?
  • Will we get it back, when will we get it back and how do we get it back?
  • What type of damage will result in us losing some of our deposit, and is the whole house treated as a collective? For example, if someone breaks something in the communal area, does the cost come out of everyone’s deposit?

How much is the booking fee?

When you’ve decided on a house that you think you’d like to sign for, make sure you’re aware of any booking fees. Usually, these are to secure the property when you sign for it, and it’s important to note that you don’t tend to get the booking fee money back.

  • Is there a booking fee?
  • How much is the booking fee?
  • When do you need it by?

Contracts can also be a bit confusing, so it’s definitely important to understand what it is and what it states prior to signing anything. If possible try and ask for a copy of the contract for reference, and although they can be slightly boring – read it! Take your time and go through each section asking questions for clarification.

If the landlord is present then ask questions directly and if not, send them an email. Never sign something you’re unsure about or don’t fully understand.

Once all those tricky bits are sorted, you can look forward to moving into a cosy little student house!