It’s the time of year again where Edinburgh regains what some regard to be the noisiest and most annoying proportion of the population. No, not the Fringe – I’m of course referring to the start of the university year. Whether you were lucky enough to have a flat over summer or you’re moving in in just in time for Freshers’ Week, there are a hundred potential problems to stumble upon. Based on the horror stories of real students, identified here are the five areas you may wish to pay most attention to in order to avoid similar issues when moving flats.
1: The End of the Lease
Of upmost importance when it comes to the end of the year is forward planning. This entails checking in advance that the date your lease finishes does not precede the day your parents are driving through to pick up you and your belongings. It has to be said that it’s normally first years who fall down here – once you’ve made this mistake once, you’ll never make it again. While one day may not seem like a lot at first, it’s a different story entirely when you’re spending the entire day in Teviot surrounded by all of your worldly possessions, contemplating which area of the meadows is the safest to spend the night in.
At some point or another everyone is bound to have an issue storing belongings over summer. This problem is tricky enough for anyone unlucky enough to not have a flat – whether it be their own or someone else’s – to use as storage, but the further away you live the harder you will be hit. Most of us choose to lean heavily on our friends to resolve this, but if you are the obliging friend in question you should be careful that your kindness isn’t taken advantage of. All too easily an initial offer to house a few belongings can result in your room being full to the brim with sofas, TVs, sun loungers, desks, bookshelves, and perhaps even the kitchen sink if you’re really unlucky. If you find yourself in this position it’s important to remember that as much as you may love your friends, they are probably all bare-faced liars. Did they tell you they’d be back in Edinburgh in time to help shift their things into your new flat? That they’d split the price of a moving van with you? They will not. It’s best to make peace with this fact now and not maintain false hope. Once you’ve lived through an ordeal of this kind, you’ll know to stay clear of any flat contents other than your own. No amount of free beer will ever make carrying your friend’s reclining armchair through the streets of Marchmont and up three flights of stairs on the hottest day of the year worthwhile. Recognise this now.
3: Accommodation during the Fringe
Another dilemma which strikes anyone with a flat over summer is deciding how generous to be with it during the Fringe. Many see this as an opportunity to make money renting out empty rooms – festival tourists will pay ridiculous sums for a bed during August, so if you’re successful it can really pay off. Alternatively, you might kindly allow a friend to bunk in your flat free of charge. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that once you make this offer, the flood gates may well come crashing open. So, if you are thinking of being liberal with your invitations, first decide whether you definitely don’t mind having to step over the sleeping friend your flatmate made whilst travelling in Bosnia with as little noise as possible en route to the kitchen at 4am.
Arguably, the biggest risk you can take over summer is subletting. This is a minefield which holds potential for complete disaster. It’s very important that if you do decide to sublet, you are certain that the person who will be living in your flat is trustworthy and shares at least some of your hygiene standards. One student flat experienced the resident from hell over the summer, who not only left piles of mouldy dishes in the kitchen, but several used condoms in the bathroom, kitchen and multiple bedrooms. Moral of the story? Even your friends are not guaranteed to be respectful tenants, so if you are subletting, you need to be prepared to assume responsibility in the face of your angry flatmates if all goes pear-shaped.
5: Room Allocation
Most students soon become accustomed to the issue of room allocation relatively early in their academic lives. For those staying in the same flat this might entail playing a game of musical bedrooms, although this can be unpopular as the idea of sleeping in a bed in which you know your flatmate has shared the odd intimate evening is unappealing. But for those moving into a new flat during the summer, the debate over who gets which bedroom can ruin the flat dynamic before the year has even begun, especially if everyone isn’t arriving at the same time. Over the summer, one student who was travelling abroad when her new lease started asked her parents to move her belongings in. Despite her flatmates having agreed otherwise, her parents moved her into the biggest room (making sure to leave her pyjamas folded under a plastic bag on her bed, so they didn’t get dusty) and when the other girls complained were forbidden from contacting their long-lost flatmate. So if it looks inevitable that your flatmates will be arriving at different times, do try to be considerate, and failing that at least be willing to sleep with one eye open should your living companions come back for revenge.