Where to look for student accommodation?
Stating college is an exciting journey and phase in life. It can also be stressful if you don’t know where to start or how to go about looking for accommodation.
We suggest that you start early! It’s better to start as early as three months in advance when there are few places advertised but more chances of you getting them than leaving it until just weeks before lectures start when everyone is also frantically looking.
Looking for accommodation is also time-consuming, however using verified sources that advertise accommodation for students may facilitate the process and decrease the risk of scams. and finding yourself without accommodation at the last minute.
The most common ways for accommodation hunting involve websites, students’ unions, newspapers, Facebook groups etc. Interestingly enough, almost 30% of the respondents to the National Student Housing Survey stated they have found their accommodation through the word of mouth!
There are many useful accommodation hunting websites out there. Don’t forget, once you find somewhere you like, ring it as soon as you can. If at all possible, do not hand over money until you receive the keys and the tenancy begins.
You may also want to use other popular websites, such as daft.ie particularly the student accommodation part of it or rent.ie.
Accommodation lists are available from your Students’ Union and can contain housing or digs that have generally been inspected over the summer. It would be recommended that you contact your Students’ Union as it’s the best port of call when hunting for a place to live.
Practically every college has an accommodation Facebook group that offer a number of opportunities in the near-campus areas. Make sure you’ve found those pages and liked them!
Check out the “To Let/Flat/Housing Sharing” columns of the daily, evening and local papers. Papers are usually out at lunchtime so get a copy as early as possible and if something catches your eye ring without delay as the places go quickly.
Before you move in/when you’re viewing accommodation
Calculate your budget and estimate the cost.
- The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) publishes the most accurate and authoritative rent index that reveals the rents paid for rental properties throughout the country.
- Be aware of new laws such as Rent Pressure Zones and new landlord obligations.
- In Rent Pressure Zones (“RPZ”), rents will only be able to rise according to a prescribed formula by a maximum of 4% annually (find out more on rtb.ie).
- However, this has no impact on the prices in purpose-built accommodation (neither private nor college-owned).
- To estimate those costs, it is necessary to visit the websites of particular accommodation unit or college’s accommodation office. If the information is not displayed, it is advised to contact the respective offices via phone/e-mail.
Everyone has a right to access this information prior to the decision on moving in.
Research the area.
- Local Students’ Unions are a very good source of information on student friendly areas and landlords.
- They can offer advice on how much students should be paying in particular areas and generally be supportive in research on a particular location and type of accommodation.
- Investigate target areas looking at: the distance to your college, public transportation, shops etc.
First of all, the lease agreement.
- Legally speaking, Irish law does not require a signed lease agreement for the security of tenancy and recognises oral agreement too. However, it is recommended to have a written document.
- According to the National Student Housing Survey, over 40% of the respondents have not signed any contract with their accommodation provider.
- Presenting such a document while applying for SUSI grant may have an impact on the level of the financial aid awarded. This is only one of the reasons why landlords and students should be encouraged to seek a written lease, however both parties should make sure they understand what the document includes.
In case of any questions, local Students’ Unions and USI can support students.
A handful of tips.
- Double check the amount of the deposit, rent in advance and rent.
- For security, check all the locks on doors and windows, alarm, fire alarm, fire extinguishers, and make sure you know who else has a key.
- Check appliances: cookers, vacuum cleaner, shower, microwave etc to see that they work.
- If necessary, ask about the situation with parking for bicycles and cars.
- What bills are you going to have to pay on top of rent? Heating, electricity, internet, cable TV, bin charges, water charges?
- Who is in charge of maintaining the garden, if the tenants are what equipment is provided?
- What happens if another tenant leaves owing rent or utility bills, who is responsible?
- Will you be required to sign a lease? Do you know the tenants you are signing the lease with as you may be jointly and severally liable for the rent and bills of other tenants?
- Are pets allowed?
- Ask the landlord what changes can you make to the dwelling; e.g. painting, hanging pictures. Is the accommodation convenient & safe? Is it near your college, shops, bus route etc – it’s handy when you need to run to a 9am lecture!
- Check for damp and mould – i.e. behind bed, in wardrobe.
- Refer to Minimum Standards in Rented Accommodation.
Manage your utilities.
- If you are moving into a self-catering apartment or a house share you can make managing your utilities far less stressful when you use a free Property Button’s service – HomeHub.
- It takes a lot of the hassle and complexity out of setting up utilities and tailoring them to your student experience.
- HomeHub from Property Button is your personal move-in assistant where you can login from any device and get setup with all of your residential services in just a few taps.
- Property Button identifies the best service providers and packages specifically available at your property and uploads these details to your personal HomeHub account, providing you with choice and transparency throughout an easy process of choosing and setting up energy, media, bins and insurance in three simple steps in one place – your HomeHub. And you know what? It’s free of charge!
- Sign up today: www.propertybutton.io.
- When giving the deposit, ensure you get a receipt and ensure that the tenancy begins and you are given the keys.
- For example, if you give a deposit but do not sign a lease, letting agreement or do not agree the terms of the proposed letting and the tenancy does not begin for a number of days, if something happens that you do not move into the dwelling, then in general a tenancy has not been created and you may be at risk of losing your deposit and a dispute in relation to this typically would be outside of the RTB jurisdiction.
- This will mean you will have to go to court to seek the return of your deposit. However, if you have signed a lease or letting agreement or the letting terms have been agreed and keys handed over a tenancy has been created even before you move into the dwelling.