There’s so much information out there for tenants who are looking for a new flatmate, but what about those looking for the perfect flatshare?
Today, Steph from Expert Home Tips is here to guide you through all the things you should be asking, looking for and verifying when viewing your potential new pad.
1 – Think of your electrics
Laptop, bedside light, chargers – we have a lot of electricals these days, and your new room needs to be able to keep up! When you’re looking around a flatshare, don’t just assess the room aesthetically, but also consider how practical it is.
Are there enough sockets. If not, is there room for an extension lead? Are they in impossible places? Are some of them blocked up?
Check these things now to avoid frustration later.
2 – Check the storage
Cupboards can be deceiving. That large, fitted wardrobe may suggest you’ll have loads of storage space, but always be sure to look inside – you may be surprised at what you find.
Some storage cupboards hide a boiler, are blocked in, or have shelves where you’d imagine rails. Don’t ever go by aesthetics alone – always check inside to ensure there will be enough space for all your stuff.
3 – What’s your allocated kitchen space
Similarly, in the kitchen, the storage may look roomy enough, but often cupboards are boarded in or extremely shallow.
Always ask what the arrangement is in the kitchen – where will you be putting your pots and pans? If you like to cook a lot and have everything from a three-tiered steamer to lemon squeezer, take this into consideration when checking out your new place.
4 – Bills – is everything included?
Tenants can sometimes be as sneaky as landlords, especially when they’re trying to get someone to take their room quickly.
If they claim all of the bills are included, make sure they really mean all of them. If you’re suspicious, ask to get in touch with the landlord directly to confirm things.
If bills are paid separately by tenants, don’t just take their word for the figures. Ask to see bills for the year to get a better idea of exactly what you’re paying. If you’re on a budget, shedding out an extra £20 a month unexpectedly could be a real problem.
5 – How clean are you?
No one likes living in a dirty home. Whilst everyone’s standards of ‘clean’ differ, one thing is for sure – some cleaning should be done.
Before you go to view any flatshares, do a little evaluation of yourself – how clean are you, really? What could you put up with? What level of uncleanliness would make you angry or uncomfortable to live with?
Once you’ve established the kind of environment you’re prepared to be in, you’ll be able to better gauge whether you’ll fit into a potential flat. Ask how the cleaning works – do they hire a cleaner, and if so, how much does it cost? If cleaning is done by the tenants, how does it work? Is there a rota?
It’s very unusual not have to compromise on your standards slightly when sharing, but you should never have to live somewhere that you’re not comfortable in. If you’re super clean and are told the cleaning gets done ‘as and when,’ then it’s probably not the place for you.
6 – How do house supplies work?
Tea, washing up liquid, toilet roll – what do they share and what don’t they? How does it work? Is it taken in turns, or is there a way to track payment? Perhaps there’s a kitty?
However house supplies work, find out in advance. You’ll be surprised how annoying and costly it is to be the one buying the toilet roll every week and not getting repaid. It’s also a good indicator of how the flat runs in general and if things are fair and well-organised.
7 – Routines of current flatmates
One of the most important things to do when viewing a flatshare is to see how your own routine and lifestyle will fit in with the current tenant’s.
Ask about their usual bed times and work schedule to see if it coincides with your own. If you need your 8 hours kip a night and there’s someone in the flat who likes to stay up till 12 and socialise, it could soon cause problems.
8 – Is there extra storage?
One of the main mistakes people make when looking at flatshares is concentrating too much on their own room.
If you have a lot of big stuff to store, such as bikes, sports equipment and suitcases, it would be handy to have somewhere else other than your room to keep them. Always ask about extra storage when looking around – are there cupboards in the communal areas you can use, or perhaps even a cellar?
9 – What belongs to the existing tenants?
If you’re moving in, the likelihood is that someone else is moving out. This is why it’s important to enquire about what furnishings, if any, belong to the tenants.
If the TV, sofa, table and chairs and other essentials were not provided initially, this is something to bear in mind, as it could leave the flat bare when people leave.
10 – What’s the rule with boyfriends/girlfriends?
Last on the list is a bit of an awkward one, but necessary nevertheless. Always ask if the current tenants are in relationships, and if they are, if their partners are regularly in the house.
It can be aggravating having to consistently share communal spaces with extra people, not to mention it will hike the bills up over time. Remember, it’s always best to ask in advance so you know what you’re getting yourself in for.
The same rules apply for you – if you yourself are in a relationship, ask how the others feel about this. Is your partner free to come round?
Of course, it’s also good to check out whether or not you’ll actually get on with the people you’re going to live with, so be sure to pay an interest in them and their hobbies/work too. However, you’ll find sharing with someone who is unlikely to become your best friend much less frustrating than someone who is dirty and keeps you awake at night.
When looking around, remember to be practical, and don’t be won over by nice décor and smiley potential flatmates alone.
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