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Finding Accommodation 

Your First Viewing  

So, you’ve booked your first viewing - congratulations! You turn up to the viewing and see several other groups of people waiting outside anxiously (you might even recognise some of them). Once the agent has arrived, they will let you into the flat. Here a few steps you should follow in order to get the most out of your viewing:  

  1. Make sure you inspect each room carefully - look at the size, amount of storage, facilities, quality etc. 

  1. Is there enough furniture and is the furniture in good condition? 

  1. Are the carpets in good condition and are properly fitted?  

  1. Is there a sufficient heating system?  

  1. Do you have a garden? Who’s supposed to look after the garden? 

  1. Do you have access to a shed? Is it clear or full of rubbish? Are the gardening tools in good condition? 

  1. Is there a secure lockable door at the back of property? Does the front door lock properly? Can you get out safely if there was a fire? 

  1. If possible, check that the roof has nothing missing, no broken gutters or plants growing out of said gutter. 

  1. Check all the kitchen appliances. 

  1. Look out for evidence of damp or mould as this can be a sign of long-term issues. These can also cause serious health issues if they’re left untreated. 

  1. Turn on the shower, taps and flush the toilet to make sure you’re happy with them. 

  1. Take pictures if you feel you will need to refresh your memory after the viewing! 

  1. Ask the agent the following questions (How much is rent? How much is the deposit? What is the application process? On average how much are bills monthly?). 

  1. Make sure it’s an HMO-licensed property (House in Multiple Occupation) if you’re living with 3+ people. This means it’s been approved suitable for the number of people living there. 

Decided this place suits you? Follow the application process as quickly as possible! 

Letting Agent vs. Private Landlord 

Letting Agents  

Pros  

Cons 

They are more knowledgeable and have greater access to a wide range of properties  

There might be a delay with getting things done in your flat, as you have to get in contact with the letting agency who will then get in contact with the landlord  

They know the ins and outs of property law and can be a helpful resource when dealing with legal documents  

 

You have back up is something goes wrong with your lease  

 

 

Private Landlord  

Pros 

Cons* 

You deal directly with the decision-maker which means you have direct communication with the landlord 

Landlords can fail to perform the necessary checks and regulations (safety checks for example)  

Opportunity to build a good relationship with the Landlord 

Your lease agreement may remain unregulated and policed.  

*But this does not apply to ALL landlords 

*All landlords in Scotland need to be registered and you check if a landlord is registered at https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/ 

Find more information here: https://www.privateproperty.co.za/advice/property/articles/renting-from-a-letting-agent-vs-a-landlord/6992 

Guarantors 

Most student flats require you to have a guarantor. These are people who are essentially prepared to pay your rent should you not be able to. In the same way, if you damage a property and are unable to pay for repairs, your guarantor will be responsible for the costs. 

A UK Guarantor needs to be:

  • Between the age of 18-75 

  • Have a good credit history 

  • Be able to pay your monthly rent  

  • Be a UK resident 

If you are a Heriot-Watt University Student without a guarantor, the University can be your guarantor. For more information on the scheme, contact Student Services, the Wellbeing Centre or the Advice Hub.

Sometimes you will be given the option to pay several months' rent upfront (usually 3/6 months) instead of having a guarantor, if you choose this option, make sure you’re not getting scammed!