Top Tips: Fearless Flat Hunting
The SRC Advice Centre have put together a list of Top Tips to help you become fearless flat hunters.
Finding a flat can be tough in normal times and has been made even trickier by the pandemic. To help remove some of the stresses involved in flat hunting we have put together a few tips.
A general overview of our flat hunting guide can also be found at: https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/accommodation/fearless-flathunting/)
1 – Check the COVID guidance
What is the guidance on moving home during this pandemic?
Before you start looking for a flat it’s important to be aware of the latest COVID-19 guidance. Refer to this full guidance from the Scottish Government (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/). This focusses on allowing moves to take pace but in a way that minimises risk.
2 – Location, location, location
Where should I live?
It would be great to live a 5-minute walk from the University, but if you have a tight budget, this might not be possible. Consider widening your search to areas not immediately around the University into areas like Shawlands and Cessnock in the South, Maryhill and Anniesland in the North, Scotstoun in the West and Dennistoun in the East. See the ‘Moving On’ section in the SRC Guide for more information on this from a student perspective: https://www.glasgowstudent.net/about/publications/the-guide/.
3 – Beware of scammers
Can I trust this advert / landlord / letting agent?
Online adverts are unregulated and carry risks. Is the advert really being posted by the landlord? Is the flat really that nice and why is the rent so low and no deposit required? If anything appears suspicious or ‘too good to be true’, this is your cue to dig deeper. Have a look at our ‘online scams’ guide (https://www.glasgowstudent.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/srchousingscams_2018_web.pdf ) for a range of potential scams.
Use Google searches for the property address, landlord name, email address and online reviews, alongside using websites like Marks Out Of Tenancy, who are starting to bring together reviews of properties in Glasgow (https://www.marksoutoftenancy.com/neighbourhood-rating-reviews/gb/glasgow).
You can easily check if the property you want to move into is registered with the Scottish Landlord Register (https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/search), or if the letting agent dealing on behalf of the landlord is registered as they should be (https://register.lettingagentregistration.gov.scot/search). If the flat is being occupied by more than 2 unrelated tenants, be sure to ask if the property has a HMO registration (https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/article/18375/Who-requires-a-HMO-Licence).
4 – Finding flatmates
Am I moving in with the right people?
If you are moving into accommodation with others, spend some time thinking through what living with them might actually be like in practice. We get many messages from students, where flat dynamics have become strained or broken down and they want to leave their flat and get out of their contracts. Keep in mind that you will be entering into a joint tenancy with others and if you do individually want to leave, you will most likely still be responsible for your share of the rent, unless you can find another tenant to replace you. See this guide (https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/student-accommodation/choosing-the-right-housemates-for-second-year-of-university) as a checklist of areas to consider before moving in with others
5 – In need of repair?
The condition of the property isn’t ideal, should I carry on?
You deserve to live in a nice property that you can make into a comfortable home. There are obligations on landlords to rent properties that are fit for inhabitation and of a good standard – see the ‘repairing’ and ‘tolerable standards’ (https://www.glasgowstudent.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/srcrepairs_2018_web.pdf) for more information on what this actually means in practice. You should check that the property is clean and carry out a visual check of everything within the property, taking notes and pictures if possible (especially anything broken, marks on carpets / walls etc). Look over our guide on how to carry out an inventory too (https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/accommodation/inventory/). You are right to ask whether there are gas and electric safety certificates and point out anything to the landlord or agent that doesn’t appear to be in full working order. A reputable landlord will be used to these questions and will address them reasonably. A less responsive landlord who makes unclear promises to fix things and focusses on a rush to sign the lease, is sometimes an indicator of potential problems in the future.
6 – Time to sign?
I’m close to signing the lease, should I?
We hear of many cases where landlords have issued incorrect tenancy agreements mocked up from the internet, adding within them unfair terms and clauses. In Scotland there is a standard document, called a Private Residential Tenancy (https://www.gov.scot/policies/private-renting/private-tenancy-reform/), which is the default tenancy for most privately rented properties. You can see what this should look like here (https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-model-private-residential-tenancy-agreement/). This document should also include which of the 3 independent organisations will hold your deposit money. See our guide on this (https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/accommodation/deposits/). Remember that your deposit should not exceed two months’ worth of rent and no more than 6 months of rent taken as upfront payment. If you’re having to provide a guarantor and are struggling to get one, consider using the University guarantor scheme (https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/registry/finance/funds/#rentguarantorscheme) to help.
7 – If in doubt, get in touch
Contact the Advice Centre (https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/the-advice-centre/) and run any concerns or questions past us. We have been dealing with this for many years, are aware of most of the pitfalls and warning signs, have local knowledge and to some extent have an awareness of many landlords and agents operating within the surrounding areas with historical problems.