Students’ Union urges caution when searching for accommodation

University of Galway Students' Union is urging students to be cautious when looking for accommodation for the upcoming academic year.

Students’ Union president Dean Kenny said this week that finding accommodation can be extremely stressful and people tend to rush into it, but he warned students to take precautions in order to avoid rental scams and unsustainable accommodation arrangements.

"There are still some properties available, so don’t panic, and make sure to keep a close eye on all the accommodation websites, especially," he added.

The SU is advising students to be aware of scammers who claim to be out of the country so they cannot show you property, but request a deposit.

Scammers may also claim to be living at the property, and show a number of people around. They get a deposit from several people and then flee with the cash. The transaction appears to have gone smoothly until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared.

Students are also advised to take their time when viewing a property. Ensure all the necessities are there, such as washing machine, furnishings etc. Check that all gas and electrical appliances are in good working order. Take photos of the property and make sure to highlight any damages already there such as cigarette burns, carpet stains, etc.

If there are any repairs to be made in the property, be sure to get it in writing from the landlord or agency that these problems will be rectified before handing over your deposit. Ensure the house is well ventilated and that heating sources are identified prior to signing a contract/lease.

Insist that a building energy rating (BER ) certificate is provided prior to signing the contract. This will indicate how cold the house is likely to get, and will give you an idea of the cost for heating.

Ensure you are clear on the duration of the tenancy. If you sign a lease and leave early you may be liable to pay outstanding rent even though you are no longer living there. Check what the situation is in the event of a lockdown.

Make sure your lease agreement clearly outlines which utility bills you must pay.

You should also take out contents insurance, as the landlord’s policy will not cover your personal possessions.

Check what the broadband speeds and deals are in the neighbourhood to make sure you will be well connected. This is particularly important if you will be learning online.

Avoid paying the deposit in cash, and ensure you get a receipt for any moneys exchanged. You are legally entitled to a receipt, so insist on getting one.

Request a viewing prior to the move-in date to ensure that all outstanding issues have been rectified.

"Finding accommodation can be extremely stressful and people tend to rush into it," Mr Kenny said. "It is paramount that you follow these guidelines to avoid scams and ensure that the house you live in will be sustainable for you and your friends.

"Never rush into getting accommodation, be cautious and insist on receipts and any repairs where necessary," he added. "This will be where you stay for at least nine months so make sure you have all the necessities before making any commitments. Students still seeking accommodation should check "


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