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Student accommodation

Tips on finding the best student pad in town

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Once you have a place at university or college, you'll need to organise somewhere to live quickly. Depending on your situation, you might continue living at home or you might have relations that you can stay with. However for many people, college means moving to a new town or city and trying to find a flat for the first time.

With the shortage of accommodation in Dublin and other built up areas, the Union of Students Ireland recently set up a site encouraging people with spare bedrooms to rent to students. You can visit the site here and register an account to view lisitngs.

Nabbing that perfect pad: Where to find accommodation?

  • Your college or university will have an accommodation officer or someone in student services that can advise you on getting a place. Try speaking to them first.
  • Usually, there are notice boards all over the college campus with notices: seeking flatmates, advertising rented houses and offering lodgings. Check out the college website.
  • Don't panic and take the first place you look at. Ask someone with experience of living in rented accommodation to come with you and to check stuff like the heating, who you're living with, how long it will take you to get to college and if the kitchen is okay for cooking.
  • Check out the local newspapers for the area you're moving to. There are often loads of classified ads with houses or rooms to let. Make sure to get a copy of the paper as soon as it comes out, as everyone will be fighting for the best deals.
  • Check out the website for a wide range of rental properties. Note that some places may not rent to students.
  • Everybody has different needs when it comes to living space. Some people are happy to share a room, while others need their own space. You might be looking for a party house or for a house where you can study and get a good night's sleep. You'll also have to consider whether you want to cook for yourself, whether you value independence or home comforts and whether you want to live with other students or find your own place.

Lodgings or digs:

  • Lodgings/digs means renting a room in a family house.
  • Meals are provided by (maybe breakfast and dinner) by the family.
  • You don't have to worry much about cooking and cleaning.
  • If you're planning to party lots, this isn't the best option. You'll have to respect the family and not roll in singing at 3 am.
  • Bills are usually included in the payment.
  • Lodgings might be more expensive, but you won't have to spend as much on food.
  • Check if you need to pay to reserve your room during holiday time.
  • If you're very nervous about leaving home, this could be a good option for first year.

Student halls:

  • On campus student residences/student halls are normally self-contained villages or buildings.
  • Halls should have everything you need nearby (shops, laundrettes, bars!) and be easily reached from the university or college.
  • Ask about the deposit conditions. A deposit is a lump sum of money (often one month's rent) that you are asked to pay to cover any damage to the accommodation while you live there.
  • Many students find that when it comes to asking for their deposit back, the landlord charges them for damage already done to the flat. Make sure that the landlord gives you a list of items in the flat and a list of anything that needs to be repaired BEFORE you move in. Then you can't be asked to pay for anything already broken or damaged.
  • Availability of student halls is increasing, so as soon as you know what uni you're going to, call and ask about their accommodation.
  • Read the prospectus so that you have a good idea of what the student halls are like.
  • A lot of first year students choose halls, as it's a great way to get to know other people and find your way around the uni.
  • Halls are hassle free. You won't have to worry about bills or problems with landlords.
  • Usually, you'll cook for yourself in halls.
  • Instead of paying weekly or monthly, halls are paid for at the start of the student year and after Christmas.
  • If you're not happy in halls, you'll need to find another student to take your place before you can leave.
  • Download the Union of Students Ireland’s Rent Book for more information on student accommodation.

 Questions for the landlord

  • How much is the deposit and do I need to pay rent in advance? (Get a receipt for any money paid at the start).
  • What are the conditions for getting my deposit back?
  • What happens if one flatmate leaves? Will we have to pay their rent? Who will be responsible for finding a new person?
  • How much notice do you have to give before leaving?
  • Who do I contact if I have a problem?
  • Can we make any ammendments to the house (like putting a nail in the wall to hang a picture)?
  • If you have questions about any of the above or if you need advice, contact your nearest Student Union or Threshold advice centre.

Before you hand over the deposit:

  • Take pictures of the room(s) for potential damage when you move in so you don't get charged for it when you leave.
  • Make sure you look for a receipt for the deposit and request a rent book if you are paying rent in cash.
  • Only sign a lease/contract for the length of time you are planning on staying there for - an academic year is different to a year so make sure the dates on any lease are Sept-May and not 12 months. 
  • Look into getting your laptop insured or getting contents insurance as your landlord's insurance won't cover your stuff.
  • When viewing a place that requires repairs, make sure they are carried out before you move in!
  • If your bills are separate to rent, make sure you are only paying for what you used by checking the electricty metre. 
  • Safety's important, check if there are fire escape routes and fire extinguishers.
  • Check for signs of dampness (especially in older houses). Look inside cupboards, at the ceilings and on furniture for damp patches or mould.
  • Many students find that when it comes to asking for their deposit back, the landlord charges them for damage already done to the flat. Make sure that the landlord gives you a list of what's in the flat and anything that needs to be repaired BEFORE you move in. Then you can't be asked to pay for anything already broken or damaged.
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Published August 1st, 2014
Last updated February 23rd, 2018
Tags college student accommodation
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