Flat Hunting: The Survival Guide

Paul Madassery

So it is time to move…

Sooner or later, everyone will need to move out at some point. Whether you have been living at home with your parents or you were staying in student accommodations. Flat hunting can feel never-ending, frustrating and impossible at times. Here is an easy little guide for navigating the renting world:

Where to look for flats

As someone who has been there, flat hunting is tough! Luckily here in the UK there are a few handy tools that can make the search for flats less frustrating and painful. Personally my whole flat search took place online without having to physically go to estate agents, although I heard of many people having luck through them. Here are some of the main website I would recommend:

Gumtree – it deserves the top spot, not necessarily because it is the best but because this is were I found my own flat, Thanks Gumtree!

Zoopla – Another great website, Zoopla has a very nice and user-friendly interface with the option to add many filters to refine your search.

Rightmove – I would consider it as similar to Zoopla. Rightmove also has a very nice website and it is quite easy to navigate.

Spareroom – I recommend using Spareroom for those people who are looking to rent out a single room in a shared flat. There is also the option within the website to buddy up with people with similar needs and rent a flat together!


When you are a student and you are looking to rent a flat, it will be most likely one of the biggest expenses you have ever had so far. For this reason it is CRUCIAL that you consider a few things about the flat you want to live in:


First of all, you want to be living in an area which is safe enough to be around at night. No one likes those dodgy and dangerous areas of town and there is no reason to compromise your safety over a few pounds so bear this in mind when flat hunting. On the other hand, different people have different standards and it is ultimately up to the individual person to choose a place he/she feels comfortable living in.


Make sure that the landlord has all the necessary licenses for the flat, for example a flat may need to have an HMO License depending on how many people will be living in the property, check out the Government Website for more detailed information.


Another important aspect that you should not neglect is security. For example: does the property have an alarm? Is there a working smoke detector? What about the door locks? These are small details that are easily overlooked.

Has the house got appropriate furniture?

Make sure you discuss whether the flat comes furnished/unfurnished/part-furnished with your landlord or letting agent. Is there sufficient space in the kitchen to store and prepare food? Another key question to ask yourself would be: is the fridge/freezer big enough? What about the furniture, is it in good condition? You may be able to discuss particular furniture arrangements with the landlord.


It is very important to look for any signs of damp on walls. This not only can have bad odour but it is also unhealthy to live in a very humid and damp flat.

What to do before signing the contract…

Consider the Landlord

From the very first interactions with your landlord you should try to pay attention to how quickly they get  back to you, whether they are vague or they can give you detailed information. Someone that gets back to you after days and days may be a sign for a disorganised landlord and this may be a bad news. Imagine if further down the line you will need something fixed in your flat, you will want someone that can efficiently and quickly sort it out. Landlords are often very busy, perhaps with other properties but make sure you take these small things into account  when making your choice.

Check the contract

We all know it’s boring but make sure you read carefully the fine print on the contract and any clauses there might be. In addition to that, pay particular attention to contract length, renewal and notice period.

Put everything in writing

If there is anything you need to be replaced or any furniture that needs to be added make sure you speak to the landlord about it. Afterwards, if the landlord agrees to your request you need to make sure it is included into the contract. If you fail to do this there will be nothing that legally requires the landlord to follow up on your request.

Deposit Guarantee

You will most likely be required to pay a deposit before moving into the property. Normally deposits are not kept by landlord but they are put in safety deposit schemes. This allows you to have more control of your deposit in case any issues arise at the end of your tenancy.

Speak to previous tenants

Speaking to the landlord or the lettings agent you will most likely hear wonders about the agency, the landlord and about the flat. Clearly they will talk themselves up and this may give you an unrealistic idea of what to expect. Instead of only doing that, my suggestion is to try to arrange a chat with current of previous tenant. You will get you unbiased information  and insights which can be very helpful in considering the property.

Know the duties

Minor repairs Ensure the safety of the property
Pay rent on time and in full Carry out major repairs efficiently
Respect the property Provide essential services
Keep the property clean Ensure habitability of property

Final words

Finally, I hope this guide will help you whenever you need to make the leap and start flat hunting. Keep in mind that they call it a housing ladder for a reason, so your first flat/house may not be perfect but rest assured that it will get better and better!

Enjoyed the read? Check out the main Need to Live website for more.

If you liked this article also check out my own website: The Financial Chronicles for more articles on student life, career and student finances!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and take action, I may be compensated.

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