Hand holding a magnifying glass looking at a house on a map

House Hunting

House hunting is daunting for everyone, especially when it's your first time renting. On this page, you'll find guides to house hunting and links to help you find properties.
While you're house hunting, remember: a tenancy is likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you ever make, so think very carefully about whether it is right for you and whether you need to commit to anything now!

NUS Ready to Rent has been developed to support student renters to develop the knowledge and confidence they need to find good quality housing and assert their rights as renters. You can check out their guides, including this leaflet that takes you through the things you need to consider before you sign your name.

Check the members list for the Landlord Accreditation Scheme North Staffordshire - only members of this scheme can advertise on StudentPad Keele and attend the KeeleSU Housing Fair.  

Consider the total cost of rent, bills, and travel – some properties may be more expensive at first but come with bills included up to a certain amount; others might initially seem cheap but the cost of getting from there to campus could exceed your budget. Our Bills page has a guide to living costs.

Take care to check the tenancy agreement before you sign anything - visit our Tenancy Agreement page for advice on what should/shouldn't be in your contract. You can also read about the different types of tenancies to help you understand your rights and responsibilities. ASK can check your tenancy agreement before you sign it, to make sure there are no issues with the terms and explain anything you don’t understand.

Make sure you inspect the property and take care to look out for these:

  • Signs of damp, disrepair or pests
  • Security on doors and windows
  • Burglar alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • The condition of the carpets and furniture
  • The state of the bathroom(s)
Don't forget to take this useful House Hunting Checklist with you!

It is a myth that all the best properties will be gone if you don’t sign up before Christmas – you don’t need to even start looking for housing for next year until the end of January at the earliest. Don’t let any landlords or agents convince you that there is a shortage of properties in the local area - there isn’t! In fact, there is a surplus of accommodation and students are still finding properties in August. We usually hold a Housing Fair in late January/early February, and there are many landlords looking to rent out their properties at that time.

Students who sign up to off campus housing too soon can experience problems that include:

 

Finding a more suitable place or leaving university before your tenancy starts

Tenancy agreements are legally binding agreements, meaning you usually have to pay the rent for the whole length of the contract even if you change your mind before you've moved in. We’ve seen many students who didn’t realise this and have signed up for one property then later signed up for another that they preferred, finding themselves legally bound to pay rent twice.

 

Changing friendships

The students who you were closest to in the first few months of your time at Keele may not be your friends by the end of the year and you could regret agreeing to live with them. Also, no one has taken and passed any exams yet, so how do you really know who will be here to move in with you next year?

Bear in mind that if you sign up for a joint tenancy you’ll all be responsible for each other’s rent so make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and are comfortable entering into this form of contract with each other. The total household rent could be around £15-20,000 for the year - you would normally take a lot of time to think about it before spending this much money on anything else!

 

Rushing into signing a contract without properly checking the condition of the property or the contract terms

It is important that you follow some simple steps to avoid repeating the same mistakes that other students have made; this can take some time but is well worth it. If possible, view the property in person or at least look carefully at any photos or videos and ask questions. If possible, talk to the previous tenants. Visit our Tenancy Agreement page for advice on what should/shouldn't be in your contract. We can also check your tenancy agreement before you sign it, to make sure there are no issues with the terms and explain anything you don’t understand.

 

Being unable to afford the full cost of living there

Take the time to make sure you can really afford the cost of living in that property. If it's more than you can afford you may fall into debt and rent arrears, which can affect your studies and mental health and may even have a long-term impact on your future. Our Bills page has a guide to living costs.

There are loads of different places to look for a house in the local area but always check that the landlord is accredited.

 

Keele Student Pad

KeeleStudentPad is the University’s online listing service. They only advertise accredited landlords who are part of the North Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme.
 

KeeleSU Housing Fair

Every year we host a Housing Fair in the KeeleSU Ballroom. We invite accredited landlords to show off their properties. (Remember KeeleSU does not endorse any of the landlords in attendance) This year's fair was virtual and was held on 3 February 2021 on Microsoft Teams.
 

Facebook

Search Facebook for ‘Keele Accommodation’ and you will find the ‘Keele Accommodation Group’. Keele students can discuss and post messages regarding accommodation both on and off campus - you can post a message on here if you're looking for accommodation or are advertising accommodation. Many students also advertise for housemates or for a replacement tenant on the Keele Student Life group.
 

The Sentinel

The local newspaper ‘The Sentinel’ advertises properties to rent. There are properties listed every day and Thursday’s edition has extended property pages. You can buy the Sentinel from Martin’s newsagents on campus.
 

Staffordshire Student Pad

It’s worth checking out Staffordshire University’s StudentPad as well as the Keele one. They have a list of landlords with properties in Hartshill and Stoke that are on the Number 25 Bus route to Keele campus.
 

Green Pad

The NUS (National Union of Students) gave Staffordshire Students’ Union over £100,000 to develop an environmentally friendly letting service. This is one of the best places to search for environmentally friendly houses and will help to keep the costs of bills low.

Looking for a housemate for next year? You can visit our Facebook group, Housemate Seekers of Keele, to connect with other students!

Living with your friends can be a great experience as long as everyone treats each other with respect and has similar ideas of how they want to live.The best way to keep things peaceful is to be realistic about who you choose to live with in the first place, and then have some honest talks about how you want to live. Consider how you feel about visitors, partners staying over, late night parties, housemates having time to themselves, standards of cleanliness, contributing to bills, dealing with arguments, as well as anything else that you feel is important.

Bear in mind that if you sign up for a joint tenancy you’ll all be responsible for each other’s rent so make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and are comfortable entering into this form of contract with each other.

Rightmove has a great list of tips:

  • Consider having regular 'house meetings' where you can air your views before they get out of hand

  • Try and socialise together so you remain friends as well as housemates.

  • Eat together when you can which will save money as well be a social event.

  • Have a kitty for communal house items such as cleaning products and loo roll.

  • Have clear guidelines about who does what housework and how regularly.

  • Have a clear strategy for paying bills from the start - whose responsibility is it? How much each? How are payments made?