Sponsored feature, words by Fay Millar

Finding the right student digs can be a bit of a nightmare. We’ve all heard the horror stories – mould so bad it smiles at you when you enter the room, housemates who you can smell a mile away and rooms so small that you seriously consider sleeping upright.

On the flipside, there is plenty of truly amazing accommodation out there, so much so you probably won’t ever want to go home - you just have to know where to look. We’ve teamed up with Collegiate AC, who provide luxury student living in cities across the UK and abroad, to reveal the ten things you should avoid when hunting for your dream student digs.

1. Unwelcome pests

There are going to be enough students wandering around as it is, do you really want to share your home with little critters and creepy crawlies? The odd spider is a general housing hazard but an infestation of rats, slugs, flies, mice etc. is a bit beyond the pale. Don’t be afraid to check cupboards and look out for traps.

If you opt for more luxury accommodation you will find they often have maintenance teams who perform regular checks – with Collegiate you can even get your room cleaned, for a fee.

2. Dodgy landlords

Not all landlords are created equal. Some are brilliant, some will unfortunately try to rip you off. If you use an agency it can add another level of security. Collegiate AC, which has luxury student sites in more than 15 cities across the UK with more being built all the time, has a very transparent structure so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Simon Gray, Brand Manager at Collegiate says: “We want to make your university experience with us superior, so our system is very clear. There are no hidden nasties. Plus, we’re also here to offer help and support when you most need it.”

3. Budget budget budget

It’s easy to get swept away in the moment and sign on the dotted line before you’ve even considered the costs. It’s not just the rent - you need to think about utilities, insurance and internet. And that’s before you’ve even factored in the other stuff like food and beer money. Before you do anything, write down a monthly budget and make sure the accommodation you’ve fallen in love with is affordable.

A room in one of Collegiate’s Leeds blocks costs from £110 a week and includes all utilities, superfast broadband, Wifi and contents insurance.

4. Size matters

If you’re going to be moving into a property with lots of other people it might be considered a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) in which case your landlord may have extra responsibilities with regards to health and safety and maintenance. They may also need a licence. Dealing with landlord who isn’t doing this can be tricky and put you at risk of eviction so make sure their responsibilities are up to date before you move in.

5. Avoid stinky Pete

The friends you make in your first year may be great but ask yourself if you really want to live with them? Your mate Pete might be a right laugh in the pub but if he stinks to high heaven and showers just once a month he’s probably not the best housemate to have.

Fortunately, there a plenty of places now, like Collegiate, that offer full en-suite - at least if you do end up living with a Stinky Pete you won’t have to share washing facilities.

6. Damp

Damp is a common problem for student houses which are often old and poorly maintained. Not only does it look grim, it can ruin clothes and furnishings, smell funny and cause serious health problems. Check for black patches when you view a house and make sure you look behind wardrobes and cupboards too.

Collegiate AC’s purpose-designed accommodation is maintained to a high standard so don’t expect to encounter damp. Ever.

7. Cold showers

Multiple occupancy means multiple bodies using up all the hot water every single day and poor water pressure doesn’t make for happy students. Turn on the taps when you view and maybe even check the toilet flushes properly too. Look for signs of damp as well – water can wreak havoc on a property and your possessions.

8. Location, location, location!

Isn’t the aim to be able to roll out of bed and into lectures in the shortest amount of time humanly possible? If so, then finding digs close to uni should be top of your list. If you can’t afford it then make sure you look at the transport links for accommodation which is further away. Collegiate’s properties come with communal bikes as standard so there really is no excuse for being late to lectures.

9. Read the small print

It’s easy to get swayed by the promise of a flat screen TV or all utilities included but make sure you read through the detail before you sign. Chances are your landlord is offering you an incentive to get you to sign to a more expensive rent. Collegiate’s accommodation is fully inclusive so you’ll never get landed with a surprise bill.

Whatever accommodation you choose, read the small print and make sure you’re clear about what you’re signing up to.

10. Shiver me timbers

Studying wearing three jumpers and a pair of thermal gloves is well, a bit rubbish really. Check for double glazing, secure doors, any drafty spots and a good heating system – it can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds to your energy bills and hopefully no need for that thick woolly sweater…

In Collegiate’s rooms you control your own heating – no surprise bills and certainly no shared houses where one selfish git insists on having the heating on high all the time!

For more information about Collegiate AC’s accommodation visit www.collegiate-ac.com