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Advice on 2nd year accommodation

(22 Posts)
stonecircle Thu 26-Nov-15 19:11:55

So, no sooner have you got over one hurdle but another presents itself! DS is in his first year and he's planning on sharing next year with 3 of his current flat mates (2 girls and 1 boy). The 2 girls are being very proactive about finding somewhere and yesterday announced that they'd found the perfect place and been to look at it while ds was away playing rugby. They wanted him to go with them last night to start the ball rolling with the agent.

DS went, but refused to pay the £125 'admin fee' (that's £500 from the four of them - non-refundable, just to cover admin costs) as he needed time to think. And go and see the property! He's happy to take his flatmates' word that it's a good property and close to campus, but he thinks it's expensive £120pw (excluding bills).

He's been in a real stew - feels under pressure and doesn't want to let them down and miss what could be a good opportunity, but his gut feel is it's too expensive. The few people he's spoken to have said £90-110 is the norm.

I was happy for him to go ahead - I'm not going to quibble over £10-20 a week but I rang the university accommodation office this afternoon and they felt it was over-priced and said he should wait until January when all the properties belonging to landlords registered with the university are released.

Does anyone have any thoughts/advice? I can understand the desire to get something sorted sooner rather than later, but I would have thought it must be safer to go with a landlord on the university's books rather than organise something independently and pay £500 admin.

dreamingofsun Thu 26-Nov-15 20:01:44

my son has just sorted out his 2nd year house, done it independantly of the uni and paid a similar admin fee. i guess he could have saved a bit of cash, but i'm just happy he found somewhere nice with a group of great sounding people he is friends with. its one problem ticked off.

at the end of the day he is an adult and its up to him to sort these things out. thats one of the things you go to uni for - to learn to live independantly.

if you are really hard up then this may be a bit more of an issue - but in the scheme of things - ie 60k of student debt i'm not sure how much difference this will make?

senua Thu 26-Nov-15 20:32:08

It's horrible, isn't it. A real power struggle to see who backs down first - landlord, tenant, co-tenant... sad
Leave them to it; they are big boys and girls now and this is part of the reason why they go away to University - to negotiate obstacles like this.

I'm afraid the admin charge is fairly standard.

If he doesn't like what the girls have found then he needs to find an alternative to offer instead.

stonecircle Thu 26-Nov-15 20:51:30

Oh yes, I am leaving him to it. It's just he suddenly found himself in this situation and asked me for advice as he was being pressured to make a decision today. I thought people on here might be able to say what's normal and what isn't. He's/we're not hard up and can afford whatever he wants, but nobody likes to feel they're being exploited. We'll be paying the rent as he only gets the minimum loan (which covers his living expenses). The accommodation office said that there wouldn't be an admin charge from landords on their books.

I also wondered if people were really sorting out second year accommodation so early - with people they've only known for 2 months!

senua Thu 26-Nov-15 20:58:14

You know what they say: you spend the second year trying to divest yourself of the 'friends' you made in first year! grin

If he can wait for accommodation office rentals then it might be a better idea. There are some real crooks out there so having the backing of the University (and their standard rental agreement?) is quite useful.

Are they definitely only a foursome? It might make bills cheaper if they are spread across more people. Having said that, the more people there are in the house then the more scope there is for fallouts.

Well done to him for not being gung-ho about spending your money.

stonecircle Thu 26-Nov-15 21:10:25

Oh thanks Senua - that's the sort of reassuring response I was hoping for! DS wouldn't have even begun to think about this left to his own devices, but the two girls sound really keen to get things organised. He says quite a few people are starting to sort out private rentals and there is a blog on the uni accommodation page advising people not to do this yet and reminding them that they've only known people for a short time. He gets on well with the 3 of them, particularly the boy but I know he's prefer a bigger, livelier group.. He says he's had 'a few offers' but most people who are sorting accommodation out are doing so with their existing flatmates. He's happier now the accommodation office have advised him to hold fire. I don't think the two girls are very happy but the other boy is, according to ds, 'relieved'.

My thinking was that landlords on the university's books are less likely to be crooks and, if anything goes wrong, they may be more inclined to help sort out problems.

icklekid Thu 26-Nov-15 21:13:32

Yes very normal to be ridiculously early and I would tell him to go for it. Who you live with makes a huge difference to enjoying uni so if you can afford it and its nice go for it!

dreamingofsun Thu 26-Nov-15 21:19:31

some uni towns have a surplus of accommodation and others a shortage. so its easier to be a bit more laid back in some places than others.

BackforGood Thu 26-Nov-15 21:20:28

It depends so much on different Universities - both depending on how much accommodation / what options there are, and also, the cost. That sounds a LOT to me (ds is in his 2nd yr now) but he's in a cheap part of the country - it would sound unbelievably cheap to his London based girlfriend.

Frustratingly, the complete con of the agencies charging all the students an enormous 'finders fee' does seem to be fairly standard, but the fact you've spoken to the accom. people at university does seem to be reassuring for you. I wouldn't want him to pay the extra money every week - let him think about what he might prefer to spend it on.
Of course, if the people he wants to share with are very keen, then they may go ahead without him, and then he'd need to find another group, so a bit of this depends on how easily he makes friends / gets on with folk and if he'd be happy to share with other folk - maybe from his rugby team?

stonecircle Thu 26-Nov-15 21:26:45

Backforgood - he does make friends very easily. One of my big fears is that he'll end up in a house full of rugby players!

senua Thu 26-Nov-15 21:28:59

if he'd be happy to share with other folk - maybe from his rugby team?

Landlords aren't keen on male-only groups.

Headofthehive55 Thu 26-Nov-15 23:50:57

Best to leave house hunting a while, my DD got a house share with girls she had know all of 6 weeks. She has spent the best part of the year regretting it.

I don't think you always stay close to those you first meet. I think you tend to end up closer to your course mates as you might have more in common but it takes longer to get to know them.

My DD didn't pay a finders fee, just a refundable deposit. ( cheap northern town)

Millymollymama Fri 27-Nov-15 19:40:43

At some universities, the decent accommodation goes very, very quickly. My gut reaction is, if the girls like it, it will be decent. My DD never went near the university housing recommendations as they never had anything near the university in the area she wanted. Early bird catches the worm where she was. Also £120 sounds top end but if the market can take it, that's what will get charged. Also,have the girls asked the current tenants if the landlord is decent? My DDs landlord had a maintenance man in one of the flats in an adjacent building. Fabulous service! She did not want a manky "party flat" and wanted to get sorted. I would tell him to take it. If they delay someone else will grab it. Some of the best houses get a whole trail of students visiting and the first lot with the deposit get it. In an area with not enough decent housing to go round and plenty of well off students, the best houses go very quickly. However, the first few weeks of next term are usually the busiest.

Millymollymama Fri 27-Nov-15 22:00:17

The male only groups get the party houses! The girls won't live in them.

Headofthehive55 Sat 28-Nov-15 22:45:26

IT does seem to be a balance, jump early you get the pick of the houses, but might not end up with the people you are getting on with much later in the year but leave it late and the good stuff will have gone.

My DDs landlord is already wanting a decision regarding the house she is in, but she doesn't have anyone to share with next year so I think things will be more awkward.

SecretSquirr3ls Sun 29-Nov-15 10:24:55

There is a thread on here called Empty Nest. Been going for years and lots of posters whose DC started uni last year. Everyone welcome and you might find lots of experiences of second year accommodation.
DS sorted his this time last year and yes, paid outrageous fees and deposit. He is in a mixed house and was just grateful that others sorted it all out for him and he had somewhere to live with friend for his second year. He wanted to avoid an all male house as he thought it would be too party orientated for him. In fact what has happened is that all those in his house are very work focussed or have BF/GF and there is very little socialising. His course is so intensive that he has very little free time so it works out fairly well. He does regret not having anyone else doing his subject in the house. Just that it's sometimes nice to bounce ideas.

Katkat50 Sun 29-Nov-15 18:36:32

My DS has sorted out his accommodation for next year. There's a group of 6 (3 boys 3 girls) that are on his floor in halls, and he tells me they get on great and he's glad it's sorted. I, of course, worry that he's jumped in too soon, but on the other hand, want him to be making plans with his friends instead of waiting for something better to come along. Finger crossed... Btw, it was the girls who took the lead!

Ohtobeskiing Sun 29-Nov-15 18:43:09

My ds is a third year in a city which has oodles of student accommodation. He pays £85 per week excluding bills. I think it is still very early to be signing contracts - i would say leave it until after Christmas. We have never paid an administration fee - just the first months rent as deposit.

Ds had a fairly grotty house in 2nd year and Ds admitted that with hindsight they didn't look at enough properties - they felt pressured into making a decision. In third year the housemates have remained the same but the house is different - and sooooo much nicer!

MultishirkingAgain Mon 30-Nov-15 09:21:21

Most University student accommodation offices (generally run through the Student Union or Guild) will counsel that there is no rush. In fact, I saw posters up at another university I was visiting last week saying just this. January/February is plenty soon enough.

hefzi Mon 30-Nov-15 19:54:20

There's no need to go through a letting agent (which is what the fee is for) for student accommodation: every year, people rush into things, and end up regretting it - there is always accommodation that comes up later in the year, and you are better with a LL who is on the SU books, as there's a guaranteed minimum standard, and they can intervene in case of problems also. Tell him not to feel pressurised - he can take a look and if he likes it, that's find: but he shouldn't feel railroaded into anything, because he certainly won't miss the boat.

mrsrhodgilbert Mon 30-Nov-15 22:16:23

Dd was supposed to be signing for year two accommodation today. The agent wanted a £100 deposit plus £75 fees. It's a house for 12, will be mixed and made up if people she is living with in halls. The rent will be £1000 a term, plus bills. That's much less than we're currently paying. It does seem early but among that group are some she gets in very well with. The house is newly refurbished and looks to be in a good place. I'm pleased it's mixed and the landlord won an award a couple of years ago.

My concern is she won't get to see it until Wednesday and is relying on the opinion of others. She was feeling rather railroaded on Friday about it but these are the people she wants to live with so fingers will be crossed that it works out.

Millymollymama Mon 30-Nov-15 23:40:10

If there is lots of accommodation available, rents are cheaper! It is market forces and location that puts prices higher. Many decent student houses for year 3/4 are also taking masters students, PhD students and young professionals.

If students want somewhere pleasant, convenient, and with a good landlord then it is worth paying a bit extra to get that. The university accommodations office my DD1 was at, advised students (and parents) to leave it until after exams. Absolutely no chance of getting anything near the university by then! And certainly not in the favoured location. And definitely not anything better than a hovel - or a converted cellar! Universities say this but do not know or understand their student body or the dynamics of the market in certain areas. Girls tend to have higher standards. Also, wanting flats for 3 or 12 means there won't be that much to choose from. Groups of 4-8 are the norm and most houses/flats are pitched at this number.

If any DC is in a bigger group, they will not fall out with all of them. My DD never lived with anyone doing her courses. She preferred that. Talking about the subject was done in coffee breaks and over lunch. Home was home. Several years later three from the flat are still great friends with her. The other two have moved on. The main decisions later in the year will be how they organise food, a rota for chores, how they will pay bills and who gets what room. These joys are "to follow"!

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