Moving out of University accommodation and into a shared student home can be an exciting time, however may also bring with it some responsibilities you haven’t had to deal with before.
But don’t worry – we’ve put together a few tips on how to get all the important things done, so that you can start enjoying the new year and your brand new home!
- Get your bills sorted
While it might be boring, bills are inevitable and need to be sorted as soon as you can. Firstly, double check what bills you actually need to pay – some student homes may be advertised as ‘bills included’, meaning there are some bills you won’t need to worry about (this usually includes gas, electricity and water). However, make sure you double check with your landlord about what this really means, as you might still need to pay for WiFi and your TV licence.
Water is an easy bill to sort out, as there is only one supplier in the North West – United Utilities. All that you need to do is contact them to tell them when you are moving in, then set up an account with them. You can also create an online account to easily submit future meter readings.
Gas and electricity
You can find out your current gas and electricity supplier by checking with Electricity North West, or by calling the Meter Point Administration Service on 0870 608 1524.
There are loads of different suppliers for gas and electricity, so it’s best to spend a bit of time looking for the cheapest supplier, potentially saving you a lot of money over the year. You could use a price comparison website for this, such as uSwitch or Compare the Market.
Depending on whether or not you watch live TV, you may need to purchase a TV license. This is necessary if you watch either iPlayer or any live TV. If you get caught with not having one, you could potentially be fined a lot of money, so make sure this is something that you get sorted when you first move in!
All student-only houses are exempt from paying council tax, and houses that have a student living there with other people working are eligible for a discount. If you’re unsure, there is more information here for you to double check whether you need to be paying this.
However, even if you and the rest of your house are exempt from paying council tax, you still need to inform the council that you are a student in order to get a full exemption or a discount. If you are asked for any further evidence or an exemption certificate, you can get this from the Student Services Centre.
2. Fill in your inventory and take pictures!
To make sure you get your full deposit back at the end of the year, the first thing you should do when you move in to your new house is agree a full and proper inventory with your landlord. This is a document recording the condition of the property and the listing the items within it, which can be checked if there are any unnecessary deductions from your deposit when you move out.
It’s also important to take photos of everything in the house, especially if there are any parts that are broken or dirty when you move in. While this may seem unnecessary, these photos can be really valuable if you get accused of breaking anything in the house or leaving the house in a worse condition than when you moved in.
You should also check that your deposit is protected in a tenancy deposit scheme, which is legally required if you have an assured shorthold tenancy – compensation may be due if it is not. This ensures the money you’ve paid is secure, and will be protected if there are any disputes.
3. Register with a GP
It is likely that you will have moved into a different area of Manchester for your second year, and therefore it’s best to register with a GP that’s closer to your home. You can find the closest GP service to your home here.
4. Share household responsibilities
In halls you may have had a cleaner and not really co-operated with your flatmates to look after the place, but now you’ll be living in private accommodation with people you (hopefully) like, and it’s definitely worth working together to make sure you have somewhere nice to live.
You can save money and time by buying products you all need for the house (cleaning products, loo roll…) together, either by taking it in turns or setting up a shared account. When it comes to using some of these items, rotas for cleaning etc. may be too much to you, but it’s important to make sure everyone contributes, and no-one leaves things in to soak so long they get mouldy. There’s a great app called Splitwise – jot down any expenses you want to share out with your housemates (such as a toaster) and it’ll calculate how much they owe you. And best of all, the app is free!
It’s also important to make sure your bins go out on time (and to empty your kitchen bin into the outside bin every now and again… you probably don’t want maggots or mice in your house). Make sure you also recycle whatever you can – don’t create any unnecessary waste! It’s important that everything goes into the correct bin – you can check what day your bins get collected here, and you can also double check what can and can’t be recycled in Manchester (this might be different to what you can/ can’t recycle at home – each council is different).
5. Remember you’re part of a community
It’s important to be considerate of those around you, and be a good neighbour. Whilst this was just as important in student halls, private accommodation is less of a student bubble than halls so you’re more likely to have families living nearby.
This isn’t to say it only goes one way, and you should make the most of your right to a peaceful home that may be affected by non-students and other students alike. Whoever they are, it’s a great idea to try being a real life adult and introduce yourself to the neighbours, so you can hopefully get along and stop any issues before they arise. If you feel comfortable, it may be a good idea to swap contact numbers with your neighbours in case there are any issues on either side.
Such an important aspect of being a part of your community is registering to vote, and then voting when you do get the chance! You can do this here and it’s so easy – in halls this would have been done automatically but it’s important to re-register when you change address.
You can find even more information on managing your money and accommodation, as well as contact details if you have any further questions, from Student Support and Advice and Manchester Student Homes Manchester Student Homes.