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House Hunting

Tips for where to look and what you need to consider

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Where can I go to look for properties?

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

Some of the most common places where students find properties are:

Keele Student Pad - the University’s online listing service. They only advertise accredited landlords who are part of the North Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

Keele SU Housing Fair - every year we host a Housing Fair and invite accredited landlords to show off their properties.This year's fair was on 1st February 2022.

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. 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.


What should I consider while looking at a property?

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

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)

?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.


Who should I live with?

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.

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


What should I look out for in the tenancy agreement?

It's really important that you 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.


What fees can the landlord or agent charge when I'm looking or signing up for a property?

You cannot be charged fees for viewings, administration, reference checking, or credit and immigration checks. You can read more about what can and can't be charged in the fees section of our Tenancy Agreements page.


What is a holding deposit?

Holding deposits are paid to reserve the property before signing the tenancy agreement. The landlord can ask you to pay a holding deposit of up to the equivalent of one week's rent.

The landlord is entitled to keep this money if you pay the holding deposit then change your mind about renting the property; however, you should get your money back if the landlord changes their mind unless you gave false information about yourself.

If you enter into the tenancy the holding deposit will be refunded, usually by reducing the first rent payment, or the landlord could turn it into the security deposit and properly protect it in a scheme.


What is a summer retainer?

Some landlords ask you to pay reduced (usually half) rent over the summer; this could be before your tenancy officially begins or it could be in the first few months of your tenancy. You would not be able to live there during this time. 

These clauses are common for student tenancies but if it is inside your tenancy period the landlord shouldn't just refuse to let you live there - you have a legal right to access the property, and the landlord shouldn’t restrict your access. You could ask the landlord to make some changes to the clause, such as paying full rent if you want to move in before September. 

Any summer provisions should be made clear in the tenancy agreement, so always check carefully before signing, and if you have any concerns speak to your landlord.


What should the landlord do with my security deposit?

Most landlords ask you for a deposit, which will be returned at the end of tenancy minus any deductions to compensate the landlord for any damage to the property or any other costs caused by your actions.

This is not the same as a holding deposit. Landlords must register your security deposit with a deposit protection scheme and send you information about the scheme within 30 days - this is a law created to make sure landlords don’t unfairly keep your money. If they don't comply with the law you could take them to court for up to three times the amount of the deposit.

**If you're sharing a house with your landlord then you are a lodger and your deposit cannot be protected. However, if you're living with the family member of your landlord then in most circumstances the deposit should still be protected.**