Freshers: How to find the right student house for you in Leeds

Unipol student home on Hessle Avenue, Leeds. PIC: Unipol

Unipol student home on Hessle Avenue, Leeds. PIC: Unipol

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It’s no secret that university students make up a large part of Leeds’s population, with most students residing in the Headingley and Hyde Park areas.

And every year, thousands of these students say goodbye to their first-year halls of residence and set off on the hunt for off-campus housing.

According to Unipol, a housing charity which assists students who are renting in the private sector, more than 16,000 bed spaces are released to let in Leeds alone every January.

Types of accommodation range from studios and flats to shared houses for year-long contracts. On average they cost £74.57 per week, excluding bills.

When searching for houses with mates, Unipol’s Nicola Brown advised students not to rush into anything.

She said: “Students should look for an accredited property. They should not rush as friendship groups change and if they wait until January, when Unipol releases its listings, students can then compare the whole market and get the best deal.”

Fourth-year Leeds University student Art Sejdiu added: “There’s a rush to get housing by Christmas but Leeds actually has a huge surplus of housing so taking time is really useful.

“Some people have bad experiences because you’re essentially signing for a house only a couple months after you’ve met someone.”

Art also advised students to speak with current occupants of the property before making a final decision.

And Unipol landlord Alan Gray, who has been letting to students for 18 year, added: “Students should always take the contract to the students’ union for them to look at. It’s also important to sort out common rules. It is a learning experience and it teaches students to live properly with others.”

When looking for houses, students are advised to use the Unipol Code – an accreditation process for landlords who meet the tough entry criteria. An online directory of more than 277 landlords and managing agents in Leeds allows students to view their options.

In addition, earlier this year Leeds University Union and Unipol announced the launch of Rate Your Landlord, a website for students to view or leave feedback on landlords renting out properties. Landlords also have the right of reply. Leeds University Union’s Community Officer Jamie Ali said: “Students need to make sure they research agencies and landlords thoroughly before signing a contract. We encourage students to use rateyourlandlord.org.uk to check out past tenants’ experiences.”

TOP TIPS FOR FRESHERS

1 - Look for accredited property: landlords who use the Unipol code are accredited by the charity after meeting tough entry criteria.

2 - Don’t rush: thousands of listings are released in January but there are often an excess of bed spaces in June

3 - Attend the Leeds University House Hunting fair: The fair takes place in January and promotes only the landlords who met the Leeds University Union advertising criteria

4 - Don’t commit to move in with friends too early: Students often find themselves making plans to move with mates they’ve only met weeks before. Be patient and hold off on any commitments until you are certain you want to share living spaces with friends.

5 - Use rateyourlandlord.co.uk: Leeds University launched this useful site with Unipol to allow students view what other tenants have said about landlords and properties in the past.

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