Introduction If you’re a student moving away from home and renting for the first time, it can be a scary prospect. This booklet aims to quell those fears and get you informed. We cover looking for a house, advice when you have found a place, tips on how to fit in with the local community and the things to look out for when moving out. So whilst being somewhat basic, this booklet should give you a general idea of what to expect and how to avoid complications.
Don’t panic! More help is available Goldsmiths Students’ Union is the big purple building on Dixon Road. You can’t miss it. We exist to serve students, so if you need advice, want us to look over your contract or if your landlord is giving you hassle, contact us. We also have a list of certified letting agents available. Telephone Number: 0208 692 1406 Advice Coordinator email@example.com Campaigns Officer (Howard Littler): firstname.lastname@example.org Welfare & Diversity Officer: (Joe Killin) email@example.com Facebook: To join our official housing group, follow this link: http://ow.ly/nJTqu .
Your Campaigns Oﬃcer Hi, I’m Howard. My big campaign this year is housing. This booklet is very useful in covering the advice aspect of that but that is only one side to the campaign. The housing crisis is political and so we should tackle it as so. Bad landlords, high rent, bedroom tax, draconian squatting laws and lack of new housing builds are just some of the issues I will be working alongside others in efforts to organise tenants into resisting. Get in touch or pop into the Students’ Union if you’re interested!
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Step by step guide 1. Finding housemates
Ask around! Post on Goldsmiths notice boards and the official Goldsmiths Housing Group on Facebook.
The University of London Housing Service (ULHS) website.
The Students’ Union will be hosting speed housemate finding events, contact them or keep an eye on goldsmithssu.org.
Not a to sharell students cho as it is o a house, man ose y do ften more socheaper and ciable
Private accomodation shared or alone.
2. Finding accommodation
Other types such as Home Share, Home Stay and Short Stay. for more info on these check our website or contact us directly.
Where do I look?
ULHS database You’ll need your Goldsmiths login: http://housing.london. ac.uk/cms/
Directly from landlords Check notice boards and websites like Zoopla and Rightmove. Be wary of using listing websites like Gumtree as in the past there have been false advertisements aimed at ripping students off.
Letting Agents The Students’ Union can provide you with a list of recommended letting agents. This is likely to be the most expensive method as fees are usually included.
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3. Signing contracts, deposits & inventories
Remember to weigh up all the factors
Letting Agents What they can’t charge you for: • Registering with an agency • List of properties available for renting • A deposit which will be returned to you if it does not find you a suitable property What they can charge you for: • Admin fees (explained in advance): tenancy agreement, reference check, inventory, renewal. • Non returnable holding deposit
Check the small print! We would recommend that you always get your contract checked prior to signing. We offer a free contract checking service to all students, so please bring your tenancy agreement to us and we will take a copy for you and read it.
• Affordability of rent • Flexibility of contract • Distance from University or bus routes and closest train stations • Local amenities
The Deposit You should not pay a deposit until a tenancy agreement has been signed.
The Inventory On the day that your contract or licence starts, visit the property with the agent or property owner, and fill in and sign an inventory. If the agent or landlord/lady doesn’t provide one of these, you can do one yourself. As well as making a record of all the items in the house, make a note on their condition. If anything needs repairing, tell the landlord/lady or agent immediately and back this up in writing with a letter clearly stating the problem.
Make sure you have all agreements and correspondence with your landlord in writing.Verbal agreements are hard to prove
Frequently Asked Questions 1) Do I need to pay council tax? As a full-time student you will be exempt from council tax payments for the period of your course. The University sends a list of all full time registered students to the council, so you shouldn’t get a bill, but sometimes mistakes happen. You might have to prove to the council that you are a full time student and that you don’t have to pay - to do this, the full time students in the property need to email the Student Centre and ask for ‘student proof’. This needs to be sent to the council tax department. Students living in Goldsmiths managed Halls of Residence are automatically exempt from council tax. The rules for part-time students are different so we recommend you seek advice from the Student Service Team, if you are part-time so that you can advise on your specific situation. If you live with non-students but are a full-time student yourself, you will not be liable for council tax but your housemates are likely to be, but don’t panic, the council will only pursue the non-students for the council tax liability, not the students. Council tax discounts are available for non-students sharing with students under certain circumstances. Check online for more details.
2) I’ve been in my house for a few months now but am really not getting along with some of the other housemates. I’m desperate to move out, can I just go?
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It depends on your tenancy agreement. Generally though, most students have fixed term tenancies, often between 9 - 12 months, and once signed you do have a rent liability for the whole period whether you’re living there or not. The effects of this on your other housemates will differ depending on whether it is a joint or individual agreement. Some landlords may allow you to find a replacement tenant to take your place but again, you need to make sure this is done properly. You need to seek advice from the Student Services before you move out and stop paying your rent.
3) We have lots of disrepair in our house and have rung the landlord but he is not doing anything about it. What would you recommend? As a general guide, all students should communicate with their landlord in writing as this gives you a paper-trail of evidence, clearly showing when requests were made. By law, your landlord has a duty to repair certain things, regardless of whether these are expressly stated in your contract or not. You can always seek advice from the Students’ Union regarding your tenancy.
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4) Is subletting illegal? This really depends on what your contract says. Usually your landlord would want you to officially enter someone living in the property into the tenancy agreement. There are also other people who would have to be alerted for everything to be legal, including the council. The best thing to do is to contact the SU about your specific case.
5) How much can I expect to pay for a room? Rents in South East London would typically be around ÂŁ500 per month. On top of this you have to put money aside for bills including electricity, water, gas, internet, etc. Planning a monthly budget is a good idea to keep on top of your finances and if you need a part-time job Goldsmiths Careers Service are very helpful. See http://www.gold.ac.uk/careers/.
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Personal Safety The risk of you being a victim of crime during your time at Goldsmiths is relatively low, but personal safety is something that you should take seriously. The Union’s Advice Service has personal attack alarms for students to carry when walking at night. here are some tips for keeping safe in and around Goldsmiths.
Walking • • • •
When walking around look confident, be purposeful and alert- people who look confident are less likely to be attacked. Avoid taking shortcuts through dark alleys or parks, stick to well-lit routes. Don’t draw attention to your valuables- keep mobile phones and other electronic devices well hidden. Don’t carry too much cash on you
Bus or tube • • •
If you are going out make sure you know where you are going and that you have a planned route. If you are travelling by bus at night try to sit near the driver or if by train try to sit in a busy carriage. 20,000 bicycles are stolen every year in the capital. Go to www.bikeregister.com and remember to lock your bike up!
Taxi or cab • •
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• • • • •
It is also important to remember when you are trying to get home late at night to be aware of the taxi you are getting into- London has quite a big problem with unlicensed mini-cabs. If you are stranded somewhere and need to take a taxi, ensure that you use a licensed mini cab or licensed black taxi. You can get the number of one taxi and two licensed minicab firms in the area you are in by sending a text to Cabwise on: 60835 Downlaod the cabwise app if you have a compatible smart phone It is always better to book a taxi in advance than trying to hail one. If you can, try to share a cab home with friends. Confirm the details of the cab driver before entering the car to ensure it is actually your cab. Make sure you sit in the back if you are on your own and ensure that you leave all doors unlocked.
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Plan your night out Don’t forget to plan your night and avoid going home alone. • Nominate a friend as a drinks watcher, ideally the one who is driving! • Don’t accept drinks (soft, hot or alcoholic) from anyone you don’t know or anyone you don’t entirely trust. • Remember, just because you are not drinking alcohol you can still be affected. • If you believe your drink looks or tastes different, don’t take a chance- leave the drink. • If you start to feel drunk after less alcohol than normal, tell a friend and get them to help you or keep an eye on you. • Do not accept a lift home from someone you don’t know very well. • If you notice a friend is drunk after just 1-2 drinks, keep a close eye on them. • Drink from a bottle that you saw being opened and between drinking keep your thumb over the top. • Never leave your drink unattended, even when going to the toilet. • Remember, it isn’t just women that are potential victims. Men should be alert too.
Protect your home & property Question 1- Do you have a front or communal door without an automatic deadlock, or even a door that doesn’t close properly? Question 2- Do you leave windows open when you go out, or are they vulnerable because they do not have key operated locks? Question 3- Do you have large televisions or computers which can be seen from outside? Question 4- Do you think that a burglar could easily access the side or back of your property? If you answered yes to any of these questions your home’s security could be improved. Limahl Macfarlane, Advice Service Co-ordinator at the SU, encourages you to think like a burglar to protect your property: ‘Most burglars are opportunist who will take advantage of open windows or unlocked doors. Remember that burglars will know about your new plasma TV if you’ve left the empty packaging outside.’ If you are burgled you should contact the police and then expect a police officer to attend the scene followed by affixed appointment by a forensic officer. In order to protect your personal property, remember to: • Register anything with a serial number at immobilise.com • Always lock the door of your room and get contents insurance or check whether your parents’ insurance policy covers you while you’re at university. If you are a victim of crime contact the police on 101 or 999 if it is urgent. The nearest police station is in Deptford at 114 Amersham Vale (near New Cross Station). You can also come to the SU for help & support. Goldsmiths Students’ Union
Being a good neighbour Goldsmiths has a small campus, but we can make a big impact on our surrounding communities. When you move into your new home you have become a part of the local community, and it is important you make the right impression with your neighbours. You are a part of the
community you have moved into, and here at Goldsmiths Students’ Union we are committed to developing a strong community spirit, where everyone is able to enjoy their home.
Moving in checklist • Introduce yourself to your neighbours. • Find out when your general waste and recycling collection days are. • Make sure you have the correct containers for recycling. • Think about the positioning of your TV/ stereo (i.e. not against an adjoining wall to your neighbours). • Complete your inventory and take photographs of everything. Be sure to
give these to the landlord with the signed inventory. • Sign the electoral register so you can vote. • Register for household bills and take meter readings to give to the providers. • Remember to get contents insurance for all your belongings.
First impressions count
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First of all, introduce yourself to your neighbours, make sure you know who they are and they know who you are. Knowing your neighbours can have many benefits; they know the area and so can inform you on rubbish and recycling collections, tips on local gems, such as
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restaurants and shops, and also may be able look out for you, particularly during the holidays. Making yourself known to your neighbours early on will help to create a positive lasting impression.
Noise Noise is often the biggest cause of complaint from residents, and it is important that we all think about how our behaviour will affect our neighbours. Not all your neighbours will be students, you may live next door to an older person, or they may have young children or work night shifts. Most people will have to be up early for work and will not appreciate hearing a heavy bassline pumping out at all hours day and night! Please be aware of those around you and ensure that your neighbours can enjoy their home and gardens without disturbance. When introducing yourself to your neighbours make sure that they know
they can come to you if they are being disturbed by the noise from your house, you could give them a mobile number so they can text you if the noise is keeping them awake at night. When you are setting out your room, think about where you are putting your TV or stereo and how this might affect your neighbour. Try to keep them away from adjoining walls, as the noise could be disturbing. Try to keep noise to a minimum between 11pm and 7am and be considerate when you are returning home from a night out. The last thing your neighbours want to hear is loud voices or car doors slamming outside the front door at 3am!
Parties Every now and then you might want to have a party, so please be aware that if your party impacts negatively on the community around you, you may receive a complaint to the council, your landlord, or to the University. Please check the terms of your tenancy agreement as there may be a clause which states you are breaking the terms of your contract by having a party.
that you may have more people than usual turning up). During the party be conscious of noise levels and in particular any heavy bass. Ask guests to leave quietly, ensuring they do not leave any mess behind them. Have a proper clean-up at the end of the night- you are responsible for any mess created by your guests, so please pick-up any broken bottles, cigarette butts, etc.
Before the party, tell your neighbours when you are planning to have one and what time you expect it to finish. Remember to give them plenty of notice (this does not mean it is OK to make excessive noise, but ensures your neighbours are aware
If someone asks you to turn the music down then please respect their requests. If environmental health are called round they have the right to seize equipment from your property. Goldsmiths Studentsâ€™ Union
Household waste & recycling Living in an urban environment foxes and other small mammals can be a huge pest. Missed waste collections can mean you will have a build up of uncollected rubbish that will encourage foxes to rummage through your bin bags, so it is important to make sure you know when the council collect rubbish and recycling from your area. Bins need to be placed on the street the night before collection day and moved back off the path once they have been collected. Please don’t leave your bins on the pavement any longer than this, as it can
mean people with buggies and pushchairs and wheelchairs users will have access difficulties on your street. Your garden is often the first thing that people will see, so try and ensure you make a good impression, keep it tidy, free from rubbish and if you are lucky enough to have decent sized garden why not think about growing some vegetables, or planting some nice ﬂowers. Remember, if you want to get your deposit back at the end of the year, keeping your house and garden clean and tidy all year round will help to ensure that you do.
Moving out checklist
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• Plan ahead, start thinking about what you are not going to want and sell it or donate it to charity. • Pack as much as you can to take home/to your new house. • Make sure you leave your property in a good state, otherwise you could have money deducted from your
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deposit. • Ensure that rubbish and recycling is left out on the correct days. • Take the final meter readings and close your household bill accounts. • Tell the council you are moving and give them a forwarding address.
Volunteering Volunteering can be a great way of getting to know your neighbourhood better, making new friends and creating a positive impact on your community. Over the last year, students have been involved in lots of different projects in the local community and surrounding areas. We have had students setting up a silver surfers programme to assist local older people with using the internet, organising a ‘big book sale’ at the local volunteer led library to raise much needed funds, volunteering as mentors with young people and organising film screenings as part of the New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival. There are many different ways of getting involved, from a placement
at a local group to organising a clean up in your street or setting up your own project that fits a need in your community. You can take part in regular volunteering projects, or if you have a busy schedule and lots of commitments you can get involved in some of our one-off projects. The Students’ Union is here to support you and we can try and find the best match for your needs. Why not come and have a chat to the Volunteering and Community Engagement Coordinator in the Students’ Union and see how you can get involved in the community? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Top tips for recycling Please rinse glass bottles and jars, cans, cartons, plastic food and drink packaging, and flatten cardboard boxes. Please place your recycling loose into the recycling bin (not in bags). Please do not put your recycling in black sacks. Please do not put food, garden or nappy waste into the recycling bin. We encourage you to support your local charity shops or make use of the textile banks for all your textiles. However, we can, as a last resort, accept your old textiles in your recycling bin (they can go in loose).
What can go into the recycling? CARTONS (e.g. Tetra Paks), PAPER & CARDBOARD including shredded paper, PLASTIC BOTTLES/PACKAGING/FILM including margarine tubs, yoghurt pots, fruit punnets, sandwich wrappers, biscuit trays & lids, plastic wrap, plastic bags, cling film, bubble wrap & CDs, METAL PACKAGING including cans, tins, foil & aerosols, GLASS bottles & jars, TEXTILES including old towels, sheets, clothing & shoes - please where possible support your local charity shop or textile banks first. Did you know you should move your wheelie bin to the edge of your property for collection? Find out more about waste and recycling collection services in our Service Standards at: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/servicestandards Do I really need to rinse containers for recycling? Yes. In addition to the sophisticated equipment, recycling is sorted by hand at the Materials Recovery Facility (see below) to ensure a high quality end product. It’s easy: simply give items a quick rinse to remove remaining food or drink. Why can’t I put recycling into black sacks? In the UK we’ve traditionally thrown rubbish (food/nappy waste) into black sacks. Due to health risks and time constraints, our crews cannot check the individual contents of these bags. As a result, black sacks used for recycling are classed as contamination and will not be collected. Please place recycling in loosely or in clear bags. Can lids be recycled? Yes! Both metal and plastic lids from plastic/ glass bottles and jars can be recycled. Should I refer to recycling symbols on packaging? No. Although they act as a guide they are not specific to any one borough. For more details visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/recycling I don’t have a recycling bin, I’d like to change my box to a bin, or I live above a flat, so need clear sacks. Can I order these? Yes. You can order your FREE recycling bin or sacks online at: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/your-bins or by ringing 020 8314 7171.
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