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Private Accommodation

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I am a first year. I have no idea where to start when it comes to looking for a flat for next year.

The first step is to work out with whom you want to share a flat. Are you all the studious type? Have you got things in common like being a night owl? Do you like cleaning and cooking? What kind of “rules” are you going to put in place for entertaining? It’s good to work out some general terms before you start the search. Open communication is the foundation for any successful flat share – you all need to be able to talk to each other even when things might be a bit tricky.

For practical information on how to rent for the first time, a good source of advice is the “How to Rent Guide” which has been produced by the Students’ Association. Any student in private accommodation might find this helpful.

Once you are ready to start looking for a flat, take a look at “Finding Somewhere to Live” which gives information on local Estate Agents. (http://www.yourunion.net/studentvoice/content/632373/accommodation/finding_somewhere_to_live/)

Another good site to check out is “My Studentpad” which is a student accommodation search engine with links to properties in St Andrews and the surrounding areas. (http://www.standrewsstudentpad.co.uk/Students)

You have now begun the search. Remember, it can take a while to find the right place at the right price. So if you set your heart on the first flat you see but don’t get it, don’t give up. The accommodation situation will continue to change between the opening of the property lists (late January/early February) right through to the start of the academic year in September. Don’t let your fear of not finding a flat force you to sign a lease you are not happy with.

I am sharing a flat, my flatmates all get on with each other very well and I am constantly left out.

It can be difficult to live with other people who you only know from halls, where there was possibly more structure and, if nothing else, someone in authority. There is a saying that you don’t know someone properly until you live with them! Most groups who share get on well, with only an occasional row about whose turn it is to do the washing up. However, sometimes things can go wrong making it difficult to spend time in the flat. The one thing that every flat share needs is open communication. It can be awkward but sitting down with everyone to talk through any difficulties can at least be a start. And even if there is, regrettably, a major divide in the group, the communication needs to focus on how you can all keep living together until the end of the lease. If you feel like you can’t talk to your flatmates, it can be helpful to talk to someone who is not involved and may be able to arbitrate. That would be a good time to contact Student Services (http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/studentservices/).

I am sharing a flat and no one does anything in the flat but me. I am the only one who does any cleaning, puts the bins out etc and I am fed up with it.

This is an area for communication. Talk about it with each other. Consider drawing up a rota which doesn’t need to be set in stone but which is a guide to who does what chore when. And perhaps agree that if, for any reason, one of you can’t do a particular chore at a particular time, it is that person’s responsibility to swap with someone else.

I am sharing a flat but I cannot live with these people any longer. I want to move out.

The one thing to remember is that whether you stay or go, you will be responsible for the rent in terms of the contract you signed. The only option is to find someone else to take on your part of the lease. Either ask around and get your existing flatmates to ask around – word of mouth can often lead to a successful outcome. Then you need to get the Landlord’s permission for the change. Until such times as the proposed change of tenant is in place, you are still liable for your share of the rent whether you are living there or not.

I am sharing a flat which is riddled with damp but our Landlady is refusing to do anything about it, blaming us for not putting the heating on. My flatmate is refusing to get involved; what can I do?

The Landlady can’t simply refuse to get involved. Was there an agent (Solicitor or Estate Agent) involved? If so, go to them about it. If not, you should get legal advice and there is a Legal Clinic which operates within term time. The Solicitor there will see students for an initial free interview. To find out the details of the Clinic, contact The ASC (http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/administration/asc/). Communicate with your flatmate about why she is not getting involved. Make sure she understands that you are both in this together, and that whatever action is undertaken will affect her too.

I am sharing a two bedroom flat with 4 other people. I was desperate to find a place but it's so cramped and our Landlord is not prepared to show us any paperwork that the flat is allowed to have 5 people living in it.

You are right to be concerned. The Landlord should be prepared to show you any paperwork relating to the safety of the property. It sounds like your flat would be required to have an HMO (House in Multiple Occupancy) Licence. Such a Licence is required if the property has three or more tenants or if toilet, kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared by other tenants. If the Landlord continues to withhold evidence of such a Licence, then perhaps you should seek legal advice. There is a Legal Clinic which operates within term time. The Solicitor there will see students for an initial free interview. To find out the details of the Clinic, contact The ASC (http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/administration/asc/)

Student Services

You are welcome to come to (http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/studentservices/ ) to talk to one of our Advisers or Counsellors, perhaps just for some initial advice or if you feel you want to take things further.  You can drop in to make an appointment either at The ASC (The Advice and Support Centre) at 79 North Street, or our offices at Eden Court on The Scores.   Alternatively, you can:-

Phone: 01334 462020

Email: theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk

Book an appointment with a Support Adviser via our Online Booking System

Ask a question

Contact

The ASC

Advice and Support Centre
79 North Street
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 (46)2020

Encountered any difficulties?

Not the right match?  If you haven’t formed a good rapport with your Adviser or you’ve encountered any difficulties and wish to speak informally to someone, please contact Ruth Unsworth (ru5@st-andrews.ac.uk) or Lara Meischke (ljm19@st-andrews.ac.uk), Deputy Directors of Student Services, in the first instance.

Please also be aware that the University has Complaints Handling Procedure for formally addressing concerns.