A sign outside a row of flats reads "TO LET but not to students"
Credit: Ciara McAlinden

A hopeful guide to flathunting

By Jeevan Farthing

Jeevan shares some tips and tricks for the frantic scramble for flats at the start of this semester.

Glasgow’s housing market is horrendous right now. There are simply too many students wanting too few flats, and if you’re starting the semester without knowing where you’ll be living next year, it must feel really daunting. As someone who viewed their second year flat 90 minutes before I left halls for good, signing forms on the terrible Avanti WiFi and frantically calling my flatmates-to-be as I headed back to England, I’m going to do my best to advise how to obtain a flat at the very last minute.

The best place to start would be the SRC’s fearless flathunting guide. This document, as well as the webpages surrounding it, offers crucial explanations for how renting for the first time works, including in the tricky areas of making a checklist, how guarantors work, and what your rights are. As helpful as this document is, it is not designed for the last-minute scramble students are undertaking at the moment. Here are three key areas of advice I can offer to help you find your home for next year.

1: Do as much preparation as possible beforehand. This sounds obvious, but if you’re living with others, you need to establish any non-negotiables before you start filling in an application. If you’re letting through an agency, they will most likely ask you for a form, from which they will decide whether to offer you the property. These forms will ask you for the salary of whoever is going to be your guarantor, so have this information to hand. They may also want some spiel on why you want to be a good tenant, so have this written out in advance, meaning you can simply paste it in when the time comes.

2: Think about practicalities, or the three P’s (price, people, place). These will help you compromise. Know what the general price is for an area: an acceptable amount of rent per month in Partick will be much lower than in Woodlands. Consider lowering the number of people you are living with, if you can afford to, because two bedroom properties do not require an HMO licence, meaning there are far more of these on the market. Finally, think outside the box for the place you want to live in. While living in the West End is obviously ideal, places like Cessnock, Govan and Cowcaddens are located on the subway, meaning you can still get to campus fairly quickly. Though it is not as fun as living in a student-dominated area, you may have more luck finding a flat.

3: Use the viewing wisely. Don’t just accept the time that they give you, ask for the earliest slot possible. Do as much as you can from the online photos (if there aren’t photos online, that’s an immediate red flag). Really get the feel for a place, so you can go in there and check things off your list as quickly as possible. If your flatmates aren’t viewing the property with you, make sure they are on their phones and responsive. The process from here is slightly different if you’re letting through an agency, or from a landlord via gumtree. An agency will probably email all prospective tenants the relevant form once the viewing is over. However, with a landlord, it’s usually first come first serve. If your flatmates are making their minds up on the group chat, use the person you have with you to ask inane (or legitimate) questions to the person doing the viewing. Then, once you are all happy, say to the landlord: “I want this place, please give me the forms”.

From here onwards, you need to ensure you have enough money to put down a deposit and pay one month’s rent in advance. Hopefully by now you will have your flat for next year, but make sure you do your inventory properly (and if one isn’t provided, ask for one or make one yourself for the landlord to sign), because you don’t want to be found liable for goods damaged by previous tenants.

The tips I’ve outlined may sound ruthless and overwhelming, but remember that it’s not your fault that you are in this situation, and after all, you really do need somewhere to live next year. Let’s just hope that the housing crisis is sorted once and for all, so this never has to happen again.


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