Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
Home Run Lettings is a letting agency managed by the Union of UEA Students, based on campus. They help students find a house, since UEA accommodation is mainly for freshers. Although the list of houses only goes online in January, they start advertising for it in November and December. Last week, the “housing week”, Homerun had info stands in the Hive, where they gave tons of useful leaflets, and they also organised a Q&A.
Even though it’s really early, I think everybody already has plans for next year. Past the first awkward and tactless talk basically telling a friend of mine “I like you, do you want to live with me next year?” (god that’s bad), I find it really reassuring to sort it out now. So in the end, me and two of my flatmates are going to live together next year. According to the Union, it is really easy to find 3 or 4-person houses, so that’s a good start!
Now, we have to think about where we’d like to live and if we have special requirements. To me, what matters most is to be as close to UEA as possible: I want to be able to walk to the uni fairly quickly, to avoid taking the bus and traffic. I got a really useful map of the neighbourhoods and areas in Norwich; we’re looking at the Earlham areas, and possibly Eaton. Thinking about all this is a bit stressful, it’s going to be our first house after all, and we don’t want to get into trouble with the landlords or be sick of each other.
Here is a list of useful information or tips we were given:
– Choose carefully who you want to live with: not everybody shares the same way of life. Do you mind if the house isn’t always clean? Do you mind parties and noise or are you a quiet person?
– Everybody wants to live with all of their friends, but be sensible. Can you imagine living with 8 other people? Is there going to be enough bathrooms in the house? How many do you need? Do you want an extra toilet?
– Think about what you’re expecting of a house: do you need a garage? Garden? Can you do without a living room? Do you want a large kitchen? Do you need a washing machine?
– The prices of the city centre and the areas near UEA are roughly the same.
– Landlords ask for a deposit: it’s usually between £200 and £300 per student. The deposit is secured by the landlords and given back at the end of the year unless you damaged their property.
– Rents are usually around £300/month/each, but most of the time, the rent doesn’t include bills. Bills are roughly £50 per student/month.
– If any repairs are required in the house (no water, fridge issues etc), the owners have to pay for it – not the students.
– Rent does not necessarily included a TV licence. If you want one, you have to arrange it yourself.
– Internet isn’t always included, that’s something important to bear in mind! As students, internet is absolutely necessary and subscribing to a new internet provider takes a while.
– You MAY need a UK Guarantor — that is someone who would pay your rent if you can’t pay anymore. However, this is a really big issue for international students (like me) since their families live abroad. Once again, the system is being quite unfair to international students unfortunately. If you don’t have a guarantor, the landlords might ask for you to pay the rent for entire year (or 6 months) UPFRONT. That’s just crazy and I don’t know what I’m going to do… I think I will have to ask the owners or the Union for trust me or something, or prove them that my parents paid for everything this year. If not, I’ll be homeless I guess. Or I need to find a random person as my guarantor. I guess I’ll see, some landlords might not ask for it.
– What if one of your flatmates drops out and goes home? Do you have to pay for their rent until you find a new flatmate?
Homerun is free for all students, while other agencies ask for fees (£50 each!).Homerun require a certain level of standard in the house. Because we’re students doesn’t mean it’s okay to live in a disgusting house, so all the houses are inspected. They also give gas certificates and check everything around the house, which means that the house is safe! At first, we considered looking at other agencies but we decided it’d be much safer to stay with Homerun, as it’s run by the Union. It also means that we can easily go there and talk to someone, since they’re on campus.
We are now ready for the house list to be released on their website in January, and we plan to start calling people and visiting houses as soon as possible so that we get the best! However, there is an over-supply of houses in Norwich: it is okay to wait until May/June to find a house. It’d even be possible to turn up in September and to find something.