If you've never had to look for accomodation before, we understand how daunting it can be. We've prepared this list of hints and tips for you to consider:
The number one rule is never rush. Landlords and their agents often push the perception that the "best" houses and flats will be snapped up if you dont rush in and take them. Owners of good quality and decent value houses are less likely to put pressure on you to sign a lease, as they know they will be able to let their property relatively quickly. We suggest having about two months to properly flat hunt.
Always view the house/flat. Never, ever take a flat unseen and also, if possible try and speak to the current occupiers. They will be able to tell you the things that you wouldn't normally be able to find out. They will also tell you how easy it is to get the landlord/agency to fix things.
Read your contract or lease through thoroughly. The Students' Association can help you do this, but you are recommended to have a legal professional look over the documentation.
Its not just rent you need to think about when budgeting. Ask to see a copy of the properties Energy Performance Certificate to find out how energy efficent the property is. The higher the rating, the cheaper it will be to run. You should also consider its location and if you will need to spend money on travel.
In Scotland, it is against the law for a letting agent or landlord to charge fees of any kind (other than a deposit) to secure a tenancy. Similarly, you should not pay a deposit with an agency before they have found you a place to live. If an agent attempts to charge you a fee for credit checks, registering, or anything else you should refuse to pay it. If you have already paid an unlawful fee our advisors can help you reclaim the fees.
You should ask the landlord or letting agency which deposit scheme your deposit will be paid into. All deposits in Scotland must be paid to a government deposit holding scheme. You should receive evidence from the landlord/agent as to were your deposit has been paid to.
Remember - safety first. All rented accomodation should have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If the property doesn't have these, don't take it!
Look out for property listings in The Herald (Tuesdays) and Evening Times (Wednesdays) and you may find it useful to search through various websites also;
It may also be worth looking out for postcards in newsagents & shop windows and searching through www.gumtree.co.uk - do beware when searching through these means, if they comply with legal regulations then they should be okay to live in.
Make sure the landlord / letting agent is registered: if you've found a property you're keen to move in to, do a landlord registration search to make sure the landlord of the property you're looking to rent is registered to the council, as this is a legal requirement for all landlords.
Think about Council Tax.
You will have to pay a deposit: you will normally be required to pay a deposit and possibly the 1st months rent installment prior to moving to the property. The deposit should only be the same as the 1st months rent, if it is more, then you should question this with your landlord / letting agent.