Off-campus living

From Halls to home: Things you need to know and check as you move into your new student home

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Moving out of University accommodation and into a shared student home can be an exciting time, however it can also bring some new responsibilities.

We’ve put together a quick guide to make sure that you have got all the important things done and make the start of second year more of a breeze!

Get your bills sorted

While it might be boring, bills are now inevitable and need to be sorted as soon as you can. Firstly, double check what bills you actually need to pay. Even if your contract is ‘bills included’, double check what this really means, as you might still need to pay for things like WiFi and your TV licence.

Water: Water is an easy bill to sort out, as there is only one supplier in the North West – United Utilities. All 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 who your current gas and/or electricity supplier is on the Ofgem website.

There are many different suppliers for gas and electricity, so it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time looking for the cheapest supplier. You might find it useful to use a price comparison website such as uSwitch or Compare the Market to find the right deal for you.

TV licence: If you plan on watching live TV or BBC iPlayer you will need a TV licence. If you get caught without one you could potentially be given a hefty fine, so make sure you get it sorted when you first move in.

Council Tax: 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, check here to find out if you need to be paying.

If your house is 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.

Insurance: If you or your parents already have insurance, check whether the policy will cover contents in your new home. There are plenty of deals available and it is worth shopping around to make sure you get the right cover. Endsleigh specialise in student insurance and some private halls include contents insurance in their rental price.

Communicate with your landlord to save money in future

To make sure you get your full deposit back at the end of the year, the first thing you should do 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.

Take photos of everything in the house, especially if there are any parts that are broken or dirty when you move in. 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 make sure that this 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’s not). This ensures the money you’ve paid is secure, and will be protected if there are any disputes.

Share the household responsibilities

In halls, especially if you had a cleaner it’s likely you didn’t really have to think too much about communal spaces. Things will be different now, and it’s definitely worth putting some thought and effort into how you’d like to run the house to make sure you all get on and have somewhere nice to live. Rotas for cleaning might be a bit too formal, but it’s important to make sure everyone contributes.

You can save money and time by buying products you all need for the house together (cleaning supplies, loo roll, a toaster…). There’s no right or wrong way, but it’s easier to have discussions early on about how you want your household to work to save arguments later down the line. There’s a great app called Splitwise; jot down any expenses you want to share out with your housemates, and it’ll calculate how much everyone owes.

Double check your safety certificates

Check that your landlord has provided all the safety certificates needed and that your house has all the correct safety measures in place, these include:

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): EPC are certificates that review and grade the property energy performance.

Electrical Certificates: These ensure that tenants are protected from any exposed wires, faulty connections, malfunctioning appliances.

Gas Safety Certificate: Landlords must arrange a yearly gas safety inspection that has to be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer and a copy of the certificate must be given to tenants.

Fire Safety Checks: These include things like ensuring a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor and fire extinguishers.

See advice from Shelter for more information.

Waste & Recycling

Getting to grips with bins is always confusing, especially as there may be a different system from what you’re used to.

It’s important to make sure your bins go out on time and on the right days. Find out what day your bins are collected, or order new ones on the Manchester City Council website. Make sure you also recycle whatever you can – check what can and can’t be recycled in Manchester.

Don’t forget that you can order recycling bins for free from Manchester City Council, but if your main black bin goes missing, you’ll be charged for a replacement.

Sign up to your local 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.

Love thy neighbour

It’s important to remember that you’re a member of a mixed and diverse community and that your lifestyle as a student may be different to your neighbours. Don’t forget that whilst there may be lots of other students living near you, there’s also people who are elderly, have young children, work shifts or have health problems.  It’s necessary to consider those around you, and be a good and considerate neighbour.

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 introduce yourself to the neighbours so that you can hopefully get along and stop any issues before they arise.

Register to vote

You can also play your part in the community in a small but significant way by registering to vote – and then doing so! In halls this would have been done automatically, but you can still easily register online so it’s no fuss.

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.

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