Second semester housing rush takes place

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The beginning of semester two at St Andrews has been accompanied by the usual annual rush to secure a place of accommodation for next year’s academic season. With the release of many estate agents’ letting lists coinciding with the January exam period and inter-semester break, many students have found it increasingly difficult to find the time to combine viewing properties and meeting landlords with exam revision and going home for inter-semester break. While this timing issue may be resolved by the semester reforms to be introduced in 2012, for now it still remains a major problem for students.

In addition, the fact that St Andrews remains one of the most expensive places to rent a house in the UK puts increased pressure on students to find somewhere they can afford. As a result many more students are settling for a home which is either far out from the town centre (principally North, Market and South Streets) or not in the St Andrews area at all. Hannah Rowand, a fourth year student, made the decision at the end of her second year to move to the nearby town of Cupar.

“When we started looking, we saw how much cheaper it was compared with St Andrews, and we realised that it would be a solution to the fact that we could never afford anything in St Andrews,” said Hannah. But she admits that she does miss the atmosphere of living in St Andrews itself- ‘it’s a beautiful place and a really nice place to live.’

With competition for a place in a residence in St Andrews extremely fierce, perhaps moving out of town may become the alternative option for many. One first year student said that “it seems to be particularly difficult for first years trying to secure accommodation as most landlords seem to prefer older applicants with a longer history of tenancy. It’s really competitive.”

Competition for a place in university halls of residence is also intense with increasing numbers of people re-applying in hope of securing accommodation. Richard Browne, a student living in private accommodation, believes that “with house prices in St Andrews ridiculously high and some people paying over £600 a month in rent alone, the cost of halls of residence appears very reasonable by comparison.”

Director of Representation at the Students’ Association, Siena Parker, adds that “The high demand for student flats, particularly in the centre of town, often means that students get very worried about being able to find somewhere suitable to live. The Students’ Association offers advice and help – including a ‘How to Rent’ guide with all the information you need to know about what to look for in a property, how to protect yourself when dealing with leases, deposits and landlords, and where is best to look to find a flat.”

St Andrews’ student accommodation problems will be compounded further if Fife Council’s proposed changes regarding HMO licenses come into effect.

Kerry Nesbitt

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