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Housemates House hunting Horror stories How not to get ripped off


2 HOUSING GUIDE

www .concrete-online.co.uk

Our house is great because ... "I live in a really nice house and I love my housemates even though they are scruffy." Nigel Rouse (LLT 4)

have heard true-life horror stories of houses being sucked down 90 foot mineshafts as residents slept in their beds. One Triangle-dwelling student awoke one morning in 1999 to find the back of his house was sinking into his garden. Be warned.

"it's much closer to the city than living on campus so we are close to lots of really nice pubs and it's much easier to separate university stuff from your home life ." Zae Knowles (EDU PG)

Natural disasters are possible

his morning I awake. I get out of bed , thankful that the wall has not collapsed upon me in the night as it did to my housemate a few months back. After crossing my resting quarters I descend the stairs and tidy up the evidence of the mice, who once again have been breakfasting on my bins. I thereafter sit down to watch television in our lounge, amidst mountains of fag butts and discarded take-away cartons. lt is freezing cold. The electricity, phone and television are about to be cut off. There is no hot water left. And I pay £195 a month for this. Welcome, to the hell on eart h that is student accommodation. lt could, of cou rse, be worse. For centuries now, landlords and local authori ties th e world over have been testing out dodgy housing by putting students in it, and Norwich in particular has seen many a UEA you th shoved unceremoniously into decrepit housing. So if you don't want to wake up wearing you r roof one morning, and don't fancy dying of plague or ending up destitute, make sure you follow this checklist of potential horrors before you sign anything ...

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Palace: great

is rubbish because ... "I hate my housemates. Even the man of the house is a bickering female" Rich Ba xter (8 10 3) "it's small, it smells, it's drafty and dirty. lt was horrible when we moved in but we we ren't sure whether it was the agency's fault or whether we should blame our housemate who moved in the week before." Tim Stroud (MGT 2) "it's too far away from campus. it's a choice of a one hour walk or shell ing out fo r a £60 bus pass. lt makes it really hard to motivate myself to get to campus in the morning" Jenny Crossland (EAS 2)

Is it about to fall into the ground? Honestly, this is a serious question. If you fi nd a house you like, check for obvious structural deterioration. For unbeknownst to many, Norwich is undermined by a complex and unstable network of chal k mines, thought to have been created in the rush-mining for lime to use for burying bodies during the plague. Since then houses have been falling down holes all over the city, and everybody will

EARLHAM ROAD

7 bedroomed house. Kitchen, brea kfast room, sitting room, centra l heating, ga rd en. Rent: £ 11 90 per ca lender month EARLHAM ROAD

5 bed roomed house. Kitchen, sitting room, sun lou nge, central heating, ga rden and off road parking. Rent: £850 pcm B ATHURST ROAD

6 bedroomed house. Kitchen, sitting room, garden, central heating. ; Rent: £ l 020 p5:m

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Keep the landlord at arm 's length Landlords come in all shapes and sizes, so get to kn ow them a bit first if you're going private. My landlord last year was an a;,al retentive Richard Briers-a-like who took far too much pride in his property and would sometimes give me fingerwagging rent lectures about doing the gardening. My friend 's landlord , on the other hand, tolerated ridiculous delays on rent payment and would often sell her drugs. If you do go private, the most important thing is to make sure they're not the sort that's going to keep a key and pop their head round the bathroom door when you 're on the loo. Lay down some ground rules about what you both expect, conditions of their visiting etc. Check for rodents lt may sound like a worst case scenario, but make sure your new house is rodent-free. Mice and rats are quite common in some of the city's older residences, particularly towards the city cen tre, and are difficult and expensive to get rid of completely. Even if the furry folk don't pay you a visit, make sure you don't leave food lyin g around, and that your bins are well protected. Check flexes and wires, too - the little bastards chewed th rough my fridge lead the other week, ki lling both the fridge and everything inside it.

Richard Briers types are annoying

ing next to the most noise-sensitive young couple in the world, forever feeling as if we couldn 't breathe without giving them nervous breakdowns. Respect is the key thing here, if you let people know you're planning a party they'll usually be OK about it. Or you can buy all the egg boxes Tesco has in stock. Are you sure you want to live wit h your housemates? By now you 've probably been through the necessary playschool "my bestest friends are ..." ritual, but be wary of living with your mates. Life in halls may have been dandy, but those annoying habits that your flatmates displayed will be intensified by ten times by living in a house.

What are the neighbours like? This is of paramount importance, especially in the Golden Triang le, where you can hear your neighbour's every bowel movement. The University receives numerous com plaints from disgru ntled neighbours in town, so do try to be considerate about noise. Th e best thing is to check out the neighbours before you sign by asking previous tenants what their experiences were. Last year my housemates and I fai led to do th is, and were unfortunate enough to find ourselves liv-

Rats are a pain in the arse

Survive student living

HOUSES TO RENT

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28, 2001

Whether it's an obsessive landlord or pesky rodents, the chances are that you will encounter some sort of strife living on campus. Steve Col/ins gives a warning of what to expect ...

"We have got a really nice landlord. He keeps the house in really good condition ." Li sa Craven (HIS 3)

7 bedroomed house.

WEDNESDAY, F EBR UARY

rooms

"it's big and it's got big rooms. The lounge and the shower are fantastic ." Ma rk Rivers (SOC 3)

C OLLEGE ROAD

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For more information and viewing details conta<;t Anne H~ywood • ;~, 1 :· '~ Tek~O:l Z~9 S21Q66 Mobile:· ·as5546 1 & Email: heywooda@waitrose.com

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When it all goes wrong try following some of these handy hints ...

et's face it, it's very rare that the average student house can go a year of essay stresses and dru nken nights out without having the odd disagreement. Whether it's your sofa companion 's allergy to Fairy Liquid or the suspicion that they've been getting jiggy with your good lady/chap the chances are that the poster filled walls will be shaken by some horrendous argument or other. Thankfully, these little tiffs usually blow over in a day or so and you 'll be back laughing at Neighbours together before you know it. However, if that little fracas turns into a full blown feud where you can 't be in the same room as each other without wanting to stuff a cushion down their throat and everything they do makes you seethe with murderous intent you're in trouble. Yes, your life will be hell because, unlike the Royal Family, when you have a bit of a domestic there aren't generally a multitude of rooms to escape to in the student abode. Don't despair, though . Follow these handy tips and you 'll never have

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to see that awful housemate again, allowing you to finish your degree in relative harmony. One room liv ing Although restricting yourself to living in one room may seem akin to becoming a prisoner in your own home it's better than ending up in Strangeways after the bread knife "slipped". To pull the bed-sit lifestyle off properly you 'll need to kit out the room so you'll never have to leave. Make sure that you 've got all your stuff"up in your pit and if possible shift a fridge and small gas stove up there so you never need to enter that stinking kitchen again . Unfortunately, you might actually have to step into another part of the house to use the bathroom unless you plan on turning into some sort of festering recluse. Ideally your new found world where duvet and chip fat are just a matter of metres apart should be on the ground floor, enabling you to co me and go as you please without even having to use the front door. The great outdoors If you can 't even bear to live under the same roof as your housemate from hell but still want to use the house's faci lities why not set up camp in the back garden? Camping out was great fun as a kid and that was only for the odd night, just imagine how great it would be to do it for an entire term . OK,

maybe not that great but at least you 'll be able to fleece money from the rogue who you used to call 'mate'. The beauty of living the outdoor life is that you can sneak back into the house when everyone is out use plenty of gas and electricity and then refuse to foot the bill because you aren 't technically living in the place. Perfect. Live like Oscar If it all goes terribly tits up and you are unceremoniously evicted from your gaff for setting fire to the carpet with that damn stove or not paying your bills there is no option but to rough it on th e streets. Come on , by this point your rather odd behaviou r will mean that all of your friends will have deserted you. The best option here is to find a nice bin to sleep in and the bigger the better. A wheelie bin would do for a short while but what you really wa nt is one of those big Biffa ones. There are some on campus so at least you will be close to campus, even if you smell a bit like mouldy cabbage.


Concrete

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY

28, 2001

HOUSING GUIDE 3

www.concrete-online.co.uk

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When you live with people it's best to choose ones who you actually like. Will Halsey says look no furt~er than your mates ... mixed with disgust. For tied into this linguistic point is, unavoidably, 路 obscenities. I cannot speak for other people, but I find that when I'm at home with my parents, shouting random swear words for no apparent reason is inappropriate. However, in the world of student net. accommodation, it is not only appropriate, but While I admit that the links between this event at damn good fun. Whether this is an all male thing the Olympic Stadium in Rome and student housI'm not sure, but screaming at the TV has wondering are tenuous at best, it does serve to fully therapeutic powers. demonstrate one of the many fine reasons for livTo be fair, I cannot comment on the pleasures of ing with your mates. Football. You get some of the living in a mixed corridor or house due to living on atmosphere of the pub, cheaper drinks, and an the ground floor In Norfolk Terrace in the first year actual view of the screen. Not to mention peanuts and living in an all male house now. without nine different types of urine on them. But I did get an interesting insight into the world Now, I also admit that for ladies and gentlemen who do not enjoy our of mixed accommodation visiting friends higher up in beautiful game, this ' ' the world of Norfolk example is somewhat Terrace. And what a conredundant. But it can be extended to protrast. Doors left open, relaxing music, it even grammes like Who smelled nice for God'~ Wants To Be A sake. I expected to see a Millionaire? ("No that's cat snake its way from one not the f-ing answer. room to another. In many You twatt Whafl'That is ways I was envious, left the answer? Bollocksl") with the all-male kitchen of or even University two months' old washing up. Challenge ("I got one right! Beat that you basBut there is something about living in an all taral") Of course there is more to living with your male household -which I have continued to enjoy mates than simply television. Not much, but defibeyond the world of Halls - and the freedom it nitely more. One of these perks is linguistic, which gives you. Last week's newspapers and beer bottles are not going to kill you by hanging around in sounds rather more cultured than it is. Basically the living room. The washing up needs doing, yes, and this '!>'ill apply to Halls somewhat as well but some point in the future it will all be fine. when you live in close proximity (and if you've You've got the rest of your life to wash up and use seen the size of my house then you'll know close vacuum cleaners. proximity is something of an understatement) to people, a certain house language is developed. For now, grab a beer, whack on the football and Indeed, if you could be a fly on the wall in my livshout obscenities at .a loud volume. There really is Ing room, your reaction would be one of confusion nothing like it.

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icture the scene: a Roma defender attempts to play a ball across the 18 yard box, Michael Owen intercepts it, ghosts past another defender before sliding the ball into the far corner of the

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Whether it is an all male thing I'm not sure, but screaming at the television has wonderful. therapeutic powers.

If you have found the love of your life, however, why not consider living with your beau. Jim Whalley and Kathryn Hinchliff give some advice ... t's a tricky decision. Do you choose to live with friends next year and enjoy the .all night partylog, camaraderie, arguments and mess that (apparently) go with that choice or, if you've got one, do you live with your girlfriend/boyfriend and, er, well, save money by sharing toothpaste. This probably isn't the fairest of summaries. Living with a partner in student housing has a number of advantages. For a start it hopefully guarantees you'll be with at least one person you like. If not, you might want to reassess your rela路 tionship. Unless one of you is supremely wealthy you will be living with other

each other all the time ... which leads us on to the bad points. You might not realise it now but generally, if a couple don't live together, when they see each other some semblance of effort to look respectable is made. Within weeks of moving in together this kind of pleasantry goes straight out of the window. For some it may come as a shock that women's legs are not permanently smooth or that men don't have the best of instincts about when a t-shirt could do wi1h a wash. Suddenly ttie smaUest issues become the biggest problems. Expect heated debate on everything from whether milk goes in before water when making instant coffee to the perhaps '' people - being half of more reasonable question of a couple in a house of 路 three or four virtually where dirty underwear should be kept (some, oddly, don't ensures victory in any perman~ntly find the floor acceptable). voting. Also, there's Very quickly. you start to act more chance your like a married couple, with all other half will see your the good and bad points that point of view when it brings. In fact, the only thing comes io those really that prevents you from slipdifficult decisions like ping totally into domestic 'should we paint the bliss/hell is your other housemates, who cah themliving room dark purple?' As already mentioned, selves be a mixed blessing. On the one hand they being in a relationship can actually save you provide contact with the outside world (leaving the money. Spending Sunday afternoon down at house can seem a lot of effort), on the other their Morrison's may not sound like the most exciting intervention on pleasant evenings in isn't always pastime in the world, but when there are two of welcome. you, both hunting for offers and splitting the bills... Choosing to live with your boyfriend/girlfriend no, you're right, it isn't exciting, but it is cheaper. leads to the destruction of your social life and the And , of course, there's always the point that living sudden disappearance of all your free time. 11 can with your girlfriend/boyfriend is a good thing be ugly, aggressive and terrifying. However, if you because you want to be with them. No longer will love them, or just really like them it's worth it, with there be arguments about whose room you're the quiet positives outweighing the blatant negagoing to sleep in each night No more can people tives - although it goes without saying that if you take the piss out of you for spending all your time split up, your life will not be worth living. Not even at your partner's house because, hell, it's your tor a second. house too. Once you live together you get to see

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lt may be a shock that women's legs aren't smooth or that men don't know when a tshlrt needs a waslr..


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After a year of living on campus you ·may well think that there is nowhere else worth living. Rubbish. There are plenty of lovely and not so lovely areas of Norwich where you can reside in varying degrees of squalor. Here they are ...

B·owthorpe

ituated to the north west of campus Bowthorpe is the place to live if you want to experience Norwich in its rawest form. To be fair, not many students actually live in private houses in Bowthorpe unless they are a little desperate. There is the Campion House halls of residence, however, that is generally populated by students in their later years at UEA. Shops Bowthorpe Shopping Centre provides most of the retail opportunities in this fine area. For food there is the sumptuous Roys and there is even a Boots. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a walk from Campion House which is close to a parade of shops. lt is a shame they're

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Earl ham

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arlham is a deceptively long road running from the University right the way into the city and has been the home of students for many a moon. Also a main road, it inevitably forms much of the hub of off-campus student life, consisting of large student houses and slightly smaller abodes off the side roads. Pubs The main pubs are situated at the end slightly nearer to town, with The Mitre being the studentiest of the lot. For a slightly more relaxed setting, The Black Horse and The Pickwick are your best bet, situated just slightly further down the road, and both serve food. 315 Shops The main benefit of living on Eariham, shops-wise,

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all boarded up except for one lonely newsagent. 2/5 Pubs They aren't many and to be quite h:>nest you probably wouldn't want to go into any of them, if you value your life that is. By the look of them they are the sort of place where you have to put your gun on the bar tefore you order a pint and then you're lucky if you get out without a slap around the chops. 0/5 Convenience for c ity As Bowthorpe 1s actually outside ofthe city limits it not exactly within walking distance although it is within reasonable reach by bus. 1/5 Convenience for campus Although it doesn't take that long to walk from campus to Bowthorpe but the question is, woud you actually want to? Just think after a long day in lectures all you have to look forward to is returning to a house in an area that resembles a war zone. 2/5 Buses . There are actually no buses from E?owthorpe direct to campus. You can, however, get to the City on the number 21 and the 22, which meander their way through the lovely streets of Bowthorpe quite regLiarly. 1/5

There are a fine selection of boozers along and just off Dereham Road. Not only is there the popular Finnesko and Firkin but also the Fat Cat if you have a penchant for real ale and beards. For a tipple on a budget, however, you can't beaf the City Gate. lt's an old cinema that, thanks to J D Wetherspoon and co, now sells exceptionally cheap food and drink. Marvellous. 4/5 Convenience for city IIL:li:ll::::::::::;:&::i](!l For those living towards the City Gate end of Dereham tretching from Bowtho.rpe to the City, Dereham the town is a mere five minutes walk away while a quick Road is the third major road where students can bus ride can convey the most walk shy student to town be seen stumbling to the corner shop of a Sunday in a jiffy. 315 morning. Much like its counterparts, Earlham and Convenience for campus Unthank, the houses :m Dereham are gigantic while Unfortunately, Dereham Road is not the most convemore modest abodes can be found on side .roads. nient place for campus. To walk from the city end would Shops take longer than you could possibly imagine and it's not Although there is no major food store on Dereham that easy to catch a bus to your favourite lecture either. 2/5 Road there are plenty of smaller outlets so there's little chance of the cupboards going bare. Even if they do Buses though there are Chinese and Indian takeways. Most of If you want to get to the City then you are spoiled for these fine stores are located at the city end of Dereham choice bus wise. The 19, 20, 21 and 22 all stops along Road so if you live further towards campus you might Dereham Road. Campus is a different matter as no buses actually run to Dereham Road. 2/5 feel a little isolated. 315

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Unthank Chinese and an Indian takeaway. Other shops include a florist and a funeral parlour, so you really have no need · to ever go anywhere else. 5/5 Pubs Unless you like scary Norfolk men crooning 80s love songs in crackly karaoke style, steer well clear of the Rose Valley Tavern on Unthank Road itself. The other couple of pubs on the main road are OK, but a bit small and lacking in atmosphere. However, some nice pubs _......;,_ can be found on the roads le.ading off it, for example the nthank Road makes up one third of the Golden Rose and the York off Trinity Street. 315 Triangle. Although admittedly not quite as scuzzy Convenience for city as the Somerfield-ridden Earlham Road, Unthank Depending on which side and which end of the road is still not as glamourous as it could be. you live, the city centre is a 10-20 minutes walk, coming In addition, there are houses to suit everyone, ranging out on either St Stephen's Street, or St Giles Street. 4/5 from the vast eight-person houses on Unthank Road itself Convenience for campus (opposite all the shops, apparently they used to be brothPersonally I'm too lazy to have ever attempted this els, but don't let that put you off), to two/three/four person walk, but I'm told it takes between 25 and 35 minutes. houses on the roads ooming off the main road. Just take the bus. 315 Shops Buses There are two Alldays mini supermarkets on either end The 25 bus stops at various points along Unthank of the stretch of shops. These provide pretty much every- Road, and is widely considered as the best bus route. thing, although they're not the cheapest of places: think Not only does it go direct to campus (no silly 27 meanUFO prices. In addition, there is a bakery, a patisserie, a daring here), but it is also the only bus that goes all the butchers, a post office. two off licences, a video shop, a way to the rail station, for those convenient getaways when Norwich just gets too boring. 4/5 pharmacy, a hardware store, a cafe, a chippie and a

has to be Somerfield. Though not exactly a class food store, it's convenient location in a nifttlittle parade, means that there is no real excuse for having bare cupboards. There is also a rather handy off-license to feed the alcohol binge, a pharmacy a little further off to aid recovery, and numerous other little shops that look like they should shut down. 2/5 Convenience for city Yet again depending on where you live determines how near to town you are. Do we spct a pattern? But those living down Eariham can proud!~ boast walking in via the nice end, rather than being exposed to the delights of St Stephen's Street. 315 Convenience for campus Well, depending on where you live on the road, or just off it, determines the convenience to campus. The walk in can either be achieved in a quick stroll or a slightly more lung-draining 30 minute chug. 3.6 Buses The numbers 26 and 27 should mean something to the Earlham resident, as they're the only two buses that get the student to campus, if "walking' "can't be" and "arsed" look like they may feature in the same utterance. But be warned: don't expect the buses to ever be on time. 2/5.

Avenues

he Avenues is a picturesque road right in the middle of the Golden Triangle. lt takes about half an hour to get from one end to the other and is a very nice walk, especially in the summer. The houses in the Avenues area are terraced but spacious. Shops Good selection at the cross-roads with Colman Road, but unfonunately there is not much at either end. However, there are a few local shops amongst the houses, such as M & M's on Cardiff Road. These are convenient, friendly and have all the emergency supplies · you'll ever need. 3/5 Pubs Loads of cool ones near the bottom of the Avenues whe re most of the student houses are situated. There

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Cam us are such gems as The Garden House, the Mad Moose and the Lillie Langtry. Unfortunately, flere are fewer towards campus so you'll have. to trek into the Union bar or do a bit of walking. 415 Convenience for city As it is situated slap bang in the modle of Unthank and Earlham, a quick saunter from the Avenues to one of these major arteries will soon take you into the centre of our fine city. Depending on where you live, it'll take you 15 minutes to half an hour to get to the centre. But at least it's not as far out as Dereham Road. 3/5 Convenience for campus lt takes 20-30 minutes to walk onto campus from the bottom end of the Avenues but some of the houses at the top end have the advantage of being a mere five minutes from the lecture theatres. 3/5 Buses For the lazier among us the Avenues has many accessible bus routes. lt is right in the middle of the 25 and the 26 services so depending on whether you live on the Unthank or Earlham side one will be more convenient. The number 23 serves the Avenues directly and can take you to Waveney Terrace or straight into the ~ity. The best area for' bus services. 5/5 .

fter a year on campus going stir crazy in a room with the spatial dimensions of a shoebox, most sane students find the promise of a room in a room student house blissfully attractive. However, wait and ponder the dark side to off campus living for a while: gaps in windows that you could drive a number 25 bus through, damp that spreads with the voracity of the ebola.virus and landlords who could not care if you lived or died as long

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as they get an astronomical rent cheque every month. These eventualities considered campus now seems like a concrete Elysian fields. Be warned though, if you are a second year it is extremely hard to arrange accommodation chez UEA. Third years, International students and returning students will be consido ered before you. But don't give up hope straight away: go to the Accommodation Office, get the on waiting list, and pray.

ocated on the outskirts of the Golden Triangle, Colman Road is ideal for those students who wish to be close to the University but don't mind spending a little more on a bus fare into the city. Many of the houses are slightly larger than usual, being semi-detached rather than terraced, which is always a good thing, party-wise at least. Shop s Colman Road boasts two sets of shops, supplying the needy student with almost anything they could wish for. Not only are there two off-licenses to choose from but also choice of take-aways - Chinese, Perfect Pizza and a fish and chip shop which actually has nice chips. And help is at hand for that morning after with a pharmacy, which is in between the bakery and newsagent. 5/5

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Pubs The pubs on Colman Road are great, if your ideal night out is one spent mixing with an interesting mix of local folk. lt is not quite the life and soul of pub land but The Romany and The Farmhouse are convenient for a quiet drink and a chat. 2/5 Convenience for city If you are feeling energetic or wish to get fit then the walk into the city will not seem too traumatic from Colman Road although it will take about 45 minutes. 315 Convenience for campus For those students who enjoy a lie in before lectures, getting a house on Colman Road is a must as it is only a short walk away from campus. More importantly, it doesn't take that long to stagger ,back from the LCR every Thursday night. 4/5 Bu ses Depending on which part of the road you live on your favoured bus route will change. Houses at the Earlham end are served by the number 26, residents in the vicinity of the Avenues can catch the 27 while those nearer the Unthank end can grab the trusty old ~5. The best of all_worlds I'm sure you'll agree. 4/5

ost housing ir town is above the shops, which means you'll never be too far from all the conveniences (and noise).of the city. Many buildings in bwn are listed, which means with a bit of tarting up you rould turn a mouse-ridden old squat into an urbane Edwardian pad. Altogether it's a great place to live but watch out for: mice/rats (they're common in Edwardian city buildings); · heating (listed buildings are single glazed, and get very cold), and late night noise (nobody thinks town is residential, so they all SHOUT AT THE TOPS OF THEIR VOICES ALL THE BASTARD TIME. Buy earplugs.) Shops They're everywhere! One of the joys of living in the city is not having to spend a fortune on manky veg from

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corner shops, and for everything else you need only step outside your door. 515 Pubs They're everywhere too! Though you'll probably find you still end up sticking to your 'locals'. Try the Alibi, Bedford's, Adam and Eve·- but remember a short walk will get you to the more studenty Golden Triangle. 515 Convenience for city Convenience for all things towny is, of course, fantastic. Parties are easy to have as noise seems to be more tolerated in less built-up areas (but check with your neighbours). Launderettes are unheard of so check you've got a washing machine. Prices can be quite high but the size of apartments can be huge - ideal for large groups. 5/5 Convenience for campus Travel to University can be a nightmare. Parking is difficult even with a permit and campus is miles away - so best get peddling.1/5 Buses Most routes to campus intersect in the city so do your research to find out the easiest way to get to school. But beware evenings and Sundays, when buses all seem to go to bed. 3/5


8 HOUSING GUIDE

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We did it our way...

www.concrete-online.co.uk

Concret e

WEDNESDAY, FEB RUARY

1n e run

28, 2001

Sorting out a place to live off campus can be a daunting task with contracts and damp hell holes to contend with. But don't worry

Kathryn Hinchliff is on hand to guide you through the housing maze... The Hive: A fountain of knowledge?

Since the dawn of university education many moons ago students have been embro iled In the battle to f ind a decent student h ouse. So, in an attempt to give a little helping hand The Housing Guide ventu red Into The Hive to get some caffeine fueied words of wisdom. We asked them : What was th e b iggest mistake you made • w hen choosing a house? What was the best t hing to come out of you r h ouse h unting? What wou ld be yo ur words of wisdom to people moving off campus? 'We were far too picky when we were looking around houses so by the time we had finally decided on a house it had already been taken. "The best thing abOut house hunting, though was getting to look at other people's stuff when visiting people's houses. "And if I had to give one piece of advice it would be to be organised and quick." A lex McGregor (HIS 3) "The biggest mistake we made was signing with an unreliable landlord and to be quite honest there have been no good things to come out of my housing experience. .... "My advice to first years is that the earlier you start out the better it is and avoid living with a couple." Gemma Mo nk (EAS 3) "I'm not sure about the best and worst things about finding a house. But in terms of advice I would say that you should make sure that you know the people you are living with well enough to know that they will do the washing up at least once a month." Andrew Vlssen (L.LT 3) "The worst thing that I did was accepting one of the first houses that I went to see because the landlord said that I would miss out. "The second time around, though, I had an idea what to expect from a student house so I had questions prepared and took the contract to be checked. "My advice would be to start early, check out the Advice Centre website, visit plenty of houses and ask lots of questions." Emily Bennett (BIO 3) 'We went to this agency and it seemed fine but then there were all these hidden charges that they sprung on us for administration. We just didnt accept it, walked out of the office got on the phone to another agent who sorted us out with a house without any hassle. "The best piece of advice I could give is to get cable as soon as you move in." Andrew Palmer (SWK 3) "When we were choosing a house we took too long to decide whether we wanted this particular house and by the time that we finally decided on it the place had already been let. "But going through an agency things were made really easy. They did all the house hunting for us and drove us around to look at them. "If I were searching for a house again I would try the agencies as well as the Advice Centre notice board, they do lots of the work for you but be prepared to pay a fee." Natalie Armstron g (810 3)

on't panic. There is no rush. There are enough houses to go around. lt is highly doubtful that you will spend your second year living in a shop doorway in the centre of Norwich just because you haven't got yourself a house for next year yet. Honest. With housing week fast approaching, first year students have a tendency to let the pressure of house hunting get to them. The Housing List comes out and students transform into frenzied beasts, permanently attached to their mobile phones. They rush down to

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the Golden Triangle where '' they almost fall over themselves in their eagerness to hand over £200 of hard earned cash to a dodgy looking bloke in a body warmer and sign on the dotted line of a contract written on the back of a cigarette packet. If you would rather take things at a more reasonable pace, however, and would prefer to live in a nice cosy house, with a lack of rodents, and a pleasant, helpful landlord here are a few things you should do before signing your life away to an unsc!l'upulous monster. Once you have rung up the landlords and organised a few houses to look round, you should first make sure that you go with a friend, preferably one of the ones you are going to live with. If possible, you and all of your prospective housemates should look around together to avoid disputes in the future.

One of the most important things is not to agree to anything until all of you have seen the property. Always look at the place in daylight. it's amazing what a multitude of sins the cloak of darkness can hide, but it might also be a good idea to go back in the evening to check out the lighting and the area. Many houses require you to go through, an alley to get in the back door, if this is the case then make sure the alley is safe and well lit. it is also worth taking note of the outside of the house. If it is in good repair it is a good sign for the rest of the property. If the gate is hanging off, the paint peeling off the exterior and the is grass up to your waist it perhaps suggests that the current tenants haven't really been looking after the house to the best of their ability or, perhaps · even worse, shows that the l;mdlord couldn't give a monkey's about the place. Once inside you should check that there is enough space for the number of occupants, six people should not be living in a three-bedroom house. Check that there is enough furniture and that it is in good condition. If any of the equipment does need repairing , get the landlord to agree to it in the contract. If you don't mention that brok-en table or chair at the start of your tenancy then when it comes to the end of your term the landlord will think that you broke it and it will come out of your deposit. Other things that you really need to check on the.first visit are the safety aspects. Check that the locks on the

Always look at the place in daylight, it's amazing what a multitude of sins a cloak of darkness can hide.

windows and doors are secure and that the house meets all fire regulations. There should be smoke . alarms in all the bedrooms and one downstairs, and the kitchen should have a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket. Ask the landlord if he has a Corgi gas certificate which is a legal requirement and an up to date electrical certificate, which all houses on the Union Housing Ust, which can be found on the notice boards in the Advice Unit or on the Union's housing database (www.stu.uea.ac.uklsupport/housing) are required to have every year. If the landlord is showing you round, try not to feel intimidated and take your time. Ask if you can look around on your own and don't be afraid to be nosy. Check inside cupboards and sit on the beds but remember not to sleep in them and or eat the food, it might upset the present tenants. You should ask the landlord whether he is a member of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme that is being piloted in five areas around the country, Norwich being one of them. Basically it means that if there is a dispute over the return of your deposit it will be sorted out by a third party. Landlords who sign up to this scheme are highlighted on the Union Housing List. Don't forget to ask the landlord the cost of the rent and whether he pays for the water or you do. Hopefully though you will be shown around the property by the current tenants who will be able to give you first hand information on the house and landlord. Don't be shy and ask them lots of questions. Things like, is the house expensive to heat, is the landlord reliable, will he do repairs promptly and is he continually on the doorstep are all very useful. There is nothing worse than an obsessive landlord, apart from one who never shows up even when the heating system has failed and gas fumes are slowly rendering the residents unconscious. This very rarely happens I assure you. If the house is wonderfully perfect, immaculately kept and the landlord is a complete saint, you should still have the contract checked by someone in the Advice Unit before you sign. They will check your rignts and responsibilities to make sure you are not being ripped off. If the landlord is not happy about waiting for you to have the contract checked then he is not a trustworthy landlord, so don't be pushed into anything. Most of all don't worry. lt will be fine. Honest.

Five steps to heaven? Step 1 Don't panic. There are plenty of houses, so there's no need to sign on the dotted line for the first pit of disease you happen to look around. Step 2 Call some landlords and organise visits to prospective properties. If you can, visit the place with the people you are going to live with. Step 3 Check the place thoroughly to make sure there aren't any disasters waiting to happen. Don't be afraid to quiz the landlord and the current tenants. Step 4 Don't be bullied into committing to a house that you are not sure about. If you are interested but not sure go away with your friends to discuss things before you decide for sure. Step 5 If you decide to rent the property get the details of the contract checked by those kind folk at the Advice Centre who will soon be able to tell if you are being ripped off.


Concrete

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY

www.concrete-online.co.uk

28, 2001

Stop th·eves! Once ·you've moved into your dream pad you'll want to make sure that some nasty burglar doesn't leg it with your stereo. Katie Hind checked out the best ways to deter criminals ... t may seem hard to believe, but greedy thieves · do target students. We may all be poor, scruffy youths to most of the population, but our belongings are in fact more likely to be snatched from our houses than any other group. A shocking study by the Home Office on burglary prevention found that neighbourhoods dominated by students living in rented houses attracted the most criminals. And University Liaison Officer, PC Richard Bell is begging students who will be moving into new houses in September to be aware that their things are at risk from being swiped. "Students are made to be seen as an easy target for burglars because they live in rented properties where the security isn't as good as privately owned houses, especially in the Golden Triangle," said PC Bell. "In the area in Norwich where most students live there are lots of back alleys between the houses and they are old too so they are easier targets. Also, people who live in the area are the types who aren't in during the day and there are a large amount of daytime burglaries."

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' ' lt's worth asking your landlord to install extra security on doors and windows, especially on the ground floor. "A lot of burglaries occur when properties aren't securely locked, especially in the summer when doors and windows are left open. Also every student now seems to have a television, a computer and hi-fi which means that if a burglar goes into a house with 5 or 6 bedrooms, which lots of student properties are, then that's 5 or 6 times as much to take," he added. The most likely goods to be snatched are electrical goods, COs, jewellery and cash. And PC Bell claims that UEA students can prevent such items from being stolen simply by being more careful. "lt is worth asking your landlord to install extra security on the doors, chains for example, window locks, especially on the ground floor. Keep your property out of sight. If you do leave during the holidays, put all expensive items in one room and lock it. Also mark all your property with your postcode: pens can be obtained from Bethel Street police station. "If not, just take down all the serial and model numbers of your property so if they are found we can prove they are stolen. Be suspicious of anyone who knocks at the door asking for someone who doesn't live there and also of anyone who is outside looking in other people's windows," he said. But PC Bell believes that students can reduce their chances of being robbed by being cautious when choosing their house. "Bear security in mind when you are looking for properties and get onto your landlord with any security worries you have," he advised. Shockingly though, only 10% of students have an insurance policy to cover their personal belongings and Simon Tubby, Insurance Advisor for the

Endsleigh Insurance shop on campus is urging students to take out correct policies. "People do tend to insure their properties lately. Norwich is the safest area in Britain to live, so it's also the cheapest place to take out insurance. it's very stupid if students don't get their stuff insured as if· you are burgled you can at least get the value back, but you can 't get the sentimental back," said MrTubby. The Endsleigh employee claims that it is both cheap and easy to buy insurance. "All students have to do is come into Endsleigh, pick up a form for contents insurance, fill it in, work out how much you want to cover, give your

r---------------:-----IIAftHI BURGlAR

FRIDAY, MARCH 16- FRIDAY, MARCH 23

Friday, March 16 6pm-7.30pm Housing Panel discussion in Lecture Theatre I. This will be chaired by the Deputy Chief Housing Officer for South Norfolk District Council. Members of the panel will include the Union Welfare Officer, a Union Advice worker, someone from the Environmental Health Dept, a solicitor, Fire Safety Officer and the General Manager of the Independent Housing Ombudsman. This will be followed by the distribution of the Housing List

Monday, March 19 1.15pm-2.15pm Housing Advice Workshop in Union House Room 1.28. The General Manager of the Independent Housing Ombudsman, responsible for promoting the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, will attend this session . 6.3Q-7.30pm Housing social event, in the Advice Unit, for students to meet other people who are looking for houses or housemates. 7.30pm Housing Quiz in the Hive, with prizes.

Tuesday, March 20 12.15pm-1.15pm Housing Advice Workshop, in Union House Room 1.28*

Wednesday, March 21 1.15pm-2.15pm Housing Advice Workshop, in Union House Room 1.28*

Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23

debit card details -::--:.:....----::.....-~~--..:........,.*and it's done," he added. And Mr Tubby also warns that students who assume that their parents' household insurance will cover them too could end up in trouble. "Insurance companies wouldn 't like to pay out for student claims and their parents' would have to have a very good policy to cover their belongings anyway."

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10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm Advice Workers available to do contract checks. Drop In service. • Students should sign up for these workshops with Sara at the Student Advice Centre Reception.

For more information on housing security, contact Bethel Street Police Station, on 01603 768769 or log onto www.studentwatchout.co.uk.

Protecting your stuff A third of burglars get in through a back window, sb visible locks will deter potential thieves. Keep all valuable items out of sight. Visible burglar alarms will keep robbers away. Make sure a strong lockable gate is fitted across the side passage to stop thieves getting in through the back. Make sure doors and frames are in strong and good condition and fit doors with a mortice deadlock. Be aware of people knocking at the door asking for someone who doesn't live there - they could be checking if you are in or not before they burgle you.

WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN

• •PilWhat with only 10% of stuIII dents actually having insurance the kind people at www.studentwatch .co.uk are offering one lucky stu~~c.;;;....;;c.;;;....;;;..;.;.~dent a free Personal Belongings Policy. All you have to do to win is answer the following question and post it in the Concrete competition box:

What percentage of students actually have a) 0% b) 10% c) 100% insurance?

PC Richard Bell: University Liaison Officer

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SELECTION OF FURNISHED HOUSES AVAILABLE FOR THE NEXT ACADEMIC YEAR INCLUDING: Alexandra Road, 3 bedroom house Armes Road, 3 bedroomed house Avenue Road, 3 bedroomed house Dover Street, 3 bedroomed house Trinity Street, 3 bedroomed house Colman Road, 4 bedroomed house College Road, 4 bedroomed house

£32.69 £34.61 £38.07 £38.07 £38.07 £34.61 £46.15

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All properties have gas central heating and prices are per person per week For full availability of properties telephone:

01603 611145

NORWICH ACCOMMODATION AGENCY 62 Livingstone St · Norwich · NR2 4HE '--' Emai I: o f"f"ice 0' norw ic h -accommod at ion .co .u k \Vebs i te : '' ,,.,, .norw ich-accommodat ion .co .u k

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Concrete housing guide 2001 issue123 28 02 2001