The Student finds out what it is really like for first-year students flat hunting in Edinburgh

As students flood back into Edinburgh after the Christmas break, the time has arrived to think about living plans for the next academic year.

This can be particularly stressful for first-year students, many of whom will have no previous experience of house hunting. Problems appear to arise from the outset, as students must initially decide who they want to live with the following year.

As Edinburgh’s student accommodation is almost exclusively flats rather than houses, many find it difficult to divide up friendship groups. Some even choose to find flatmates via websites such as Spare Room, Room Buddies, or Gumtree.

The issue of where exactly to live can cause further issues. With flatmates studying different subjects, many find a split between the campuses of George Square and the King’s Buildings.

Ezgi Worthy, a first-year student based at the King’s Buildings and facing this issue, told The Student:

“It is definitely something to consider when choosing flatmates. Next year I’m living with another science student but also some arts students, so when flat hunting we have to consider how convenient the location is for all members of the flat.”

At this time of year, it is common to hear stories around campus about the difficulties faced when trying to actually find a flat once flatmates have been chosen.

Whilst many of these are rumours intended to scare first-year students, the process of finding a flat is never straight-forward.

One first-year Edinburgh resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Student about her stressful experience of flat hunting:

“The flat we were viewing was being rented out on a first-come, first-served basis. We were at a group viewing, so when the viewing was completed there was a mad rush to ring up the estate agents. A group of fourth years beat us to it, which was really disheartening.”

Some estate agents have stopped using this first-come, first-served method of renting, such as Southside Management.

Instead of the desperate scramble to secure a flat caused by such a system, students must now fill out an application form to be considered by the landlord.

The university and its Students’ Association do provide some support during this stressful process, with information and advice regarding flat hunting available on the Students’ Association website.

This includes a checklist on what to look for when viewing flats, a guide to budgeting when moving into a new flat, as well as information on how to avoid scams.

The Advice Place also offers a service whereby students can have their lease agreements checked for free. This can help protect students from unregistered landlords or illegal fees.

These online services are being followed up by a Housing Fair, held on Monday 5th February at Potterow.

However, students continue to believe that more attention should be given to housing issues, though.

Photo: Hajira Kamran

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