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Student Info

Student Info

 

We know what it's like spending huge amounts of time searching for student property only a few months into the new academic year. Meeting new people, overloaded with work - it’s not just parties! At Digs, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

A large amount of our Oxford properties are ideal Student accommodation - so we know what we are doing.

We keep it simple so you don't have to worry.

 


 

The Lettings Cycle

 

So, you have started a new year at University and are loving student life! But, before you get settled, this is the perfect time to start looking at your accommodation for next year. In October we get in touch with all our tenants and discover whether they would like to stay and in November release our list of properties that are available to rent for the next academic year.

To ensure that you get the property you want in the location that's perfect for you then contact us as soon as the property is released to arrange a viewing. All of our properties are listed in the student section of Rightmove and Zoopla and are also available to view right here on our own website. You can search by price, location and number of rooms and view photo's, floor plans and full descriptions of the properties - then click right through to let us know you are interested. We then get back in touch with you to answer any questions you may have and arrange a viewing of the property at the earliest possible opportunity.

All our student accommodation is only available on a 12 month contract running usually from any time between late-July and mid-September - depending on the termination date of the previous contract.

 


 

Useful Info - How to live in a student house

If you are just starting at University the chances are you have never lived away from home before now and even if you have - you have probably never shared with so many other people that have just left home! Either way, there are costs and details involved in running a student home that unfortunately some don't even think of before moving day. In this section, you'll find help, guidance and useful links to prepare you for independent student living.

 


 

Choosing the right property ...

Where to start when finding the right property for you.

 

Who to live with

One of the first questions on any property listing is 'how many bedrooms would you like?'. Make sure you choose people you like and who you could live with. Maybe have a trial run for a week to see if anyone has any habits you just can't stand, or anyone who you know would just make living with them a constant party! Choose wisely - what's important to you in a housemate? Who will make a fun house mate but understand that you are at University primarily to study and so at times need your space? You're tying yourself into a year with them, so this is the first big decision to make.

 

Location

Travel time to campus? Nearest train station to get home? Parking? Local shops? Night life? Where will your friends be living? Whichever is most important to you, make sure you check out the location you want to be in before looking for a property - and not just on Google Maps! Go there, take a walk and get to know the area. There are so many properties on the market it can overwhelm you - narrow your search further by looking in a location or street that you will be happy with.

 

Price

There are a lot of factors that can affect the price you can afford. Be realistic - most properties are around £100 per person, per week and most agents, like us, will only offer students a 12 month contract, regardless of how many months you will actually be living in the property. As a general rule, £30 pppw would cover your share of utilities and don't forget - as full time students you don't need to pay council tax, like residential letting, but part time students do. You then have food, study costs, social activities and personal expenditure to throw into the mix. Be realistic with what you can afford and get the right balance for you between cost, property and location.

Some further guidance can be found of the University of Oxford website - http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/fees-and-funding/living-costs. They mention 9 months, but don't forget - if you rent from a private landlord or agent, the chances are you will have a 12 month lease.

 

The RIGHT Landlord or Agent

You will probably have seen that there are a number of horror stories floating around of landlords and agents who 'run off' with tenant's rental money or deposits. It is a scary fact that agents do not have to register with any independent regulation agencies, are not regulated and do not have to go through any training in order to call themselves an Agent.

As responsible agents, and indeed honest people, Digs are members of The Property Ombudsman and have years of experience in all aspects of property renting, buying, selling and development - so you can rest assured you are in safe hands with us.

It is a matter of law, under the Housing Act 2007, that any deposit paid by a tenant to any landlord or agent must be protected by a Government approved scheme. There are several out there and Digs choose to be members of the DPS - Deposit Protection Scheme. As tenants of Digs, you will be provided with full details of your deposit payment being protected by them.

Most agents or landlords will charge for checking references, inventory preparation, drawing up agreements and admin costs, etc. It is a legal requirement for an agent to clearly state their fee structure on their website - so make sure you do your homework on what costs you will pay. We keep our fee structure very simple - you can find full details here - Guide to Tenants.

Whichever property you decide, make sure you do your research on the Agent or Landlord before you decide to take on their property.

Once you have found the right house for you, follow our instructions on how to apply by clicking here.

 


 

Before you move in ...

Once you have chosen your property and finalised paperwork for next year there are still some points you should address with your future housemates before move in day.

 

Room allocation - Who will be in which room? How much space will you have? Who shares which bathroom?

In order to help decide which bedroom goes to which student, we have floor plans available for most of our properties. This can help you know how much space is available in each room and how many bathrooms there are and where. It's definitely worth working out before move in day who's got space where. The chances are, you are all from different towns and/or countries and won't all be moving in on the same day. You don't all have to be present on Check-In day to meet our representative at the property and collect keys - but at least one of you will need to be. Don't worry, we will agree a date and time together in advance so you don't have to miss any lectures to 'fit in' with our timetable! We are here for you.

But how can you allocate rooms? Well - there are a few options.

1 - Size - Practically, there may be some of you who need more space than others. If one of you is studying architecture they may need the room with the biggest desk to spread out. If there is one of you who is notorious for the amount of clothes and accessories they have, maybe they need the big room. Be open and honest with your house mates, make sure they know what is important to you and be ready to compromise on something if you really, really want the biggest room.

2 - Leg work - Some students have previously decided to allocate rooms based on who did most of the leg work when finding the property - who dealt with the agent, who passed on any messages, who organized all the viewings. Utility bills will also need to be organised for the duration of the tenancy so it's a good idea to assign someone to be the main contact for all the utilities. The person heading all this up could get first pick of the rooms and work it down from there.

3 - Who's best suited? - Got a house mate who can't handle their drink so well? Or who has regular night time bathroom visits? It would be worth placing them right next to a bathroom. Has one of your house mates got a long time partner or likes to 'play' around all parts of the campus? Then ground floor would probably be a good idea for these guys. What about someone who regularly carries in/out heavy instruments/equipment for their studies - it would be worth being on ground floor for ease of access and to save scratching walls up and down stairs.

4 - Rent split - Floor plans and room measurements can help you split how much rent is paid per person based on available floor space in each room.

5 - Pot luck - How about a card game? Names or room numbers pulled out of a hat? Draw straws? Roll a dice? You can just see what happens and who fate decides should be in each room!

 

Parking Permits

As with any major UK City, Oxford has strict parking regulations throughout. If you have a car that you want kept with you at University it is a must for you to look up where and when you can park, with and without a parking permit. Oxford City Council has clear guidelines on their website - OCC Parking.

 

Travel Expenses

It is advisable to travel your regular journeys at the time of day you will be travelling before you move in to your property so you can gauge the time it will take and any costs incurred. Most Oxford students will walk or cycle to campus, but if buses are required then always check timetables carefully and allow time for traffic.

For further travel advice, take a look at Oxford University website, or Oxford Brookes.

Consider also where you would store a bike in the property so it is safe and secure and not an inconvenience to your housemates. Taking bikes up and down stairs can cause scuff marks to walls that would not be classed as fair wear and tear.

 

Utilities

No utilities will need to be paid before you move in, but this does not mean that you can't get quotes in, set up accounts and organise who will head up paying bills during your stay. It may be a good idea to set up a house bank account that everyone pays into each month - making sure that you have plenty in there when needed to pay all the bills. One email address that all students have access to would be a good idea as well and use this to register on any household accounts.

Bear in mind - it is illegal to make a profit on utilities without a licence, so you must ensure that at the end of the year, once all final bills are paid, that any balance remaining in a kitty is split between everyone that contributed.

Bills to consider:

- Water

- Electricity

- Gas (where applicable)

- TV Licence

- Phone / Wi-fi

- Contents Insurance

- Full time students do not have to pay council tax, but part time students will have to.

CONTENTS INSURANCE - Your landlord or agent insures the property on your behalf but you will need to insure your own contents. It is advisable to have this arranged BEFORE you move in, to start on your move in date, so you can be sure you are covered from the start. Insurance can be a tricky thing if you have never organised it before - ask around for help from friends and family and make sure that you read your policy in full to make sure it covers everything you need it to and that you don't get caught out.

 

Household Provisions

Each of our student properties come with the basics that you would need, but there will always be items other than your personal effects that you will also need to take.

We list below the basics that are included in each room of our student houses:

Bedroom - each bedroom comes with:

- Bed (either single or double)

- Desk

- Chair

- Drawers

- Hanging rail or wardrobe

 

Communal room(s)

- Sofa(s)

- Additional seating/storage

Many properties will come with a dining table and chairs if space allows and there will also usually be a coffee table(s) or small drawers in a communal area - however neither of these unfortunately can be guaranteed.

 

Kitchen

- White goods

- Cupboard storage & work surfaces

The kitchen will always come with oven, fridge, freezer and microwave, with the fridge and freezer being appropriate to the size of the property. Regrettably, it is unusual for a student kitchen to come with a dishwasher or tumble dryer - so make sure you have an air dryer and some rubber gloves!

 

The size and look of all items of furniture throughout the property may vary - for example the chances are not all wardrobes in the property will look the same. The property is going to be your home for the duration of the year and as such you will want to feel as at home as possible. If you would like to replace any existing items with your own, this is not usually a problem but you MUST obtain written permission for the person managing your property. It will then be mutually agreed whether the property manager will arrange safe removal and storage of the item(s) or whether you would arrange this and the conditions of its storage.

Curtains or blinds will be provided where appropriate throughout the property.

The following household items are NOT usually provided for you when you move in:

- Bed & table linen

- Towels

- Cleaning products

- Cutlery, crockery or glassware

- Television

When it comes to move in day, you may be lucky and discover that previous tenants have left various items there, or the property comes with some of the items listed above as not included, however these items do need to be considered before you move in to make sure you have everything you need. Family and friends at home are usually very good to help out with items you need - but bear in mind you will then need to transport these from your home town. Social media can be a great tool to contact previous Oxford students who have items for sale or sometimes even free.

There are plenty of places throughout Oxford where you can buy all the essentials you need, whatever your requirements and budget may be.

 

Check In

At least one of the occupants will need to be present at the property at a prearranged time and date to obtain keys and sign the inventory on behalf of all the tenants. The date of the check in does not have to be the same as the start date of the tenancy if you can't make it - we will contact you in advance to arrange a mutually agreeable time and date for the check in any time after the tenancy has started.

We will provide 1 key for each tenant at this check in appointment but please bear in mind - if not all tenants are present at the check in, that person(s) is responsible for all keys on behalf of the other tenants.

 

Deposit and pre-tenancy rental payments

You can find details of how and when these payments fall due on our Guide to Tenants page.

 


 

You're in ...

Congratulations! And welcome to your new home! This section gives you some guidance on what to expect, what your responsibilities are as tenants and some ideas on how to ensure smooth running of the house.

 

Property Manager

Throughout your tenancy you will always have someone you can get in touch with any queries. We have 3 services that we provide to our landlords - Tenant Find, Rent Collect and Fully Managed (further details here). The service your landlord has signed up to with us denotes whether we are your Property Manager, or the landlord is your Property Manager. This will be clearly laid out, with their contact details and emergency number, in your Tenancy Agreement and is required by law to be listed, again with contact details and emergency number, inside the property itself.

In case of any emergencies, it is your responsibility to contact any Emergency Services by dialling 999 and contact your Property Manager at the earliest safe opportunity.

Even if we don't manage your property, there may be times you require assistance - maybe you can't get in touch with your landlord or you need some advice - please do get in touch, we are here to help.

 

Bills

It's a very good idea, if you haven't already, to set up a house bank account to pay all your bills. Again, it's a good idea to set up a house email account for all your online accounts with any correspondence from various suppliers. Either allocate one person in the house to manage these for you, or give everyone equal levels or responsibility but make sure your decisions are clear to, and agreed by, everyone before setting up the accounts. The easiest way to ensure everything is paid on time is to set up standing orders on or around the same date for all suppliers and standing orders from each individuals bank account to the house account a week before the first bill of the month is due. This way you have a week to check that there is enough money in the account for everything to be covered, so to avoid late payment charges from your suppliers and overdraft fees from your bank. Or a credit card could be an option - but this will be another monthly cost to consider.

 

Rent

You could do the same with your rent as with your bills - have it all come from one bank account at the same time, but this is not what we would advise. To be clear - each of you will sign your own tenancy agreement and each of you is responsible for your own element of the rent. However you are all jointly and severally liable for the whole monthly rental amount, so if one person doesn't pay then the rest of you would be liable for their share. We do have a fee for late payment, which would be chargeable to whoever's rent is late.

 

Day to Day living costs

Food, cleaning products, drink's - it's vital to agree between you all whether you will each buy and store your own or share them. Why not have a cash kitty kept somewhere safe, when it gets low everyone put in the same amount to top it up. Again, it's just really important to agree with everyone what the rules are on what can be paid for from the kitty.

 

Household Chores

Cleaning and gardening will be down you, the tenants, so it would be worth setting up a rota of who's responsible for what. We can provide contacts if you want to outsource these services, but there will be a cost involved. Simple tasks such as changing lightbulbs are also your responsibility. If ever you have any maintenance issues - for example a leak, then you need to contact the Property Manager for them to arrange a maintenance team to come and attend at the earliest possible opportunity. The bills for general maintenance are chargeable to the landlord, unless they are down to neglect on your part. Further details can be found in your contract, or sample contracts can be found here.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY - the property manager will provide you with a 24 hour emergency contact number. However please note, if the property manager or their representative attends the property for an 'emergency' and it turns out not to be, there will be a charge for unnecessary call out.

 

Care of the property

All tenants are obligated to take reasonable care of the property they rent. Ensuring that entrance doors are locked when unoccupied, taking reasonable care to avoid stains and damage, ventilating the property regularly to avoid damp residing are good examples of general care. This is your home - we ask for you to take care as if it were your family home.

 

Noise nuisance

You're students - there will be times that you want to invite people over and have a good time - more often than not including music. We advise you to contact your neighbours and let them know you will be having a party and be as considerate as you can. Oxford City Council have guidance on noise nuisance available here should you be in any doubt.

TIP - If you're having a party, it's a fab idea to cover carpets and surfaces in old newspapers to help prevent damage and stains.

 


 

Preparing to move out ....

Can you believe it - it's time to move out! There are some key points to highlight for you when it is nearing the end of your tenancy.

 

Refresh yourself on your agreement

It's always a good idea to reread your tenancy agreement at the end of your tenancy to make sure you that you have everything covered that you have agreed to and to remind yourself what to expect. It would be a good idea to come back to our website and get yourself clued up on the key points noted here too.

 

Check your original inventory

It would be wise to check the property carefully against your original inventory. This way you can start to get an idea of what to expect we will point out when we come to the check our appointment.

You can check what is deemed as fair wear and tear, and indeed much more, with the AIIC.

If you spot any work required that you know you have definitely caused, then you can get it professionally repaired or indeed replaced for like with like, but your Property Manager needs to be informed in either of these instances. We are more than happy to work together with you before the end of your tenancy and put you in touch with a network of maintenance teams for any job required.

Alternatively, any work necessary at the point of check out would be arranged by your Property Manager and any costs incurred for anything about fair wear and tear would be deducted for your deposit.

 

Cleaning

As with the Check In, we will be in touch to arrange a mutually agreeable time to come to the property, receive back all keys and produce an inventory. At this point we will look at and discuss any work required.

You must ensure that the property is left in the clean condition you received it in - either by cleaning it yourself or hiring in cleaners. If, at the point you check out, it is not at the standard it should be we will arrange for it to be cleaned and deduct the cost from your deposit.

 

Deposit Return

We aim to return your deposit within 48 hours of your check out, assuming there are no necessary deductions.

If any deductions are required, we aim to return your deposit within 48 hours of the latter of all work having been successfully completed and all invoices having been received from suppliers.

 


 

We're here to help...

 

Still got questions? You can always take a look at our 'Guide to Tenants' page for further detail or indeed, get in touch!

 

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