Post-housing rush: finding a last-minute flat

László housing 2
Photo: László Szegedi

The traditional frenzied search for a flat is over, yet some students are still securing properties. With most student lists released between late January and the end of February, it is no surprise that students begin to search in the weeks prior. Applications are collated and delivered as soon as the property is viewed, with panic setting in if a flat is not secured by the end of March.

However, leases are still signed well into the end of the second semester. The Saint spoke with three stu- dents about their experiences securing a lease after the initial rush.

While second year Emily Allen said that the experience of finding a property “wasn’t too bad,” third year Alex Miller said that “it certainly wasn’t easy.”

Although the Stonehouse Lettings website shows six student properties available, and the Thorntons Student Lettings company lists a further five, “the competition for places is still quite high,” Mr Miller said.

Ms Allen described a viewing on South Street where the line wound down the majority of the road. She had a similar experience on Bell Street.

This endless competition often leads to frustration.

Mr Miller said: “[It is] more of a constant series of stops and starts as things got posted and immediately taken. You then sit around and wait until something new gets posted and it’s off to the races again. Rinse, wash, repeat.”

Mr Miller and Ms Allen’s experiences contrast with that of first year Ingunn Ukvitne, who said that she and her housemate got “very, very lucky.”

Ultimately, Mr Miller believes that he also “got pretty lucky. [It] was either I got the place or I figured I’d have to live by Morrison’s, or even Dundee, and just commute.”

Elspeth of Stonehouse Lettings wanted to discount the preconception that students have to take the first property they are offered. While it may seem like there is a finite list of properties, some listings will not even be on the market until the summer. Potential landlords will be securing properties and getting HMO licenses for their properties, which will then be put onto the student letting market throughout the year.

So, while the list of properties is dwindling, new ones are still becoming available.

She also wanted to underline the fact that there are still possibilities and tenants do not have to compromise.

Ms Ukvitne, for example, had to compromise little, as the flat secured “was a little more expensive than our other flat, but not much, and we worked it out between ourselves who is going to pay what.”

Mr Miller’s flat did not fit his initial budget, but after expanding his spending possibilities to meet market realities, his rent is within budget and good value for its location.

Ms Allen also decided to compromise, saying: “We didn’t compromise location, as that was one thing my housemate and I were decided on, but we had to compromise on price.”

Despite the mad rush for properties which begins in December, properties can clearly still be secured right up until September. It is not unheard of for students to drop out of leases during the summer, and frequent posts on Facebook housing pages are testament to this.

Mr Miller supports the view that joining Facebook pages that advertise properties is a good move for students searching.

He said: “Be ready to check them religiously. Also, don’t be afraid to look for alternative postings or to put yourself out there saying you’re looking for a place, since someone might have a spot open that you would not have known about otherwise.”

Ultimately, those searching for properties after the initial rush should not be discouraged. Even if letting agencies don’t seem to have available properties, there are always other avenues such as private landlords.

Despite securing a lease after the normal panic, all three students interviewed were pleased with their properties.

Ms Ukvitne advised those in the same situation to “just keep your calm, and you could get really lucky.”

Ms Allen and Mr Miller also counselled staying calm and continuing the housing search, as there are properties out there.

Remember that Stonehouse Lettings releases properties throughout the year, and the housing pages on Facebook will always be looking for new members.


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