In 2nd year I moved into Latchmere Road in Fallowfield with 5 of my friends which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I thought I would share some tips on looking for properties after living in halls in first year.
Who will you live with?
Quite possibly the most important factor to consider. This can be a really hard decision so think carefully about who you lived with in first year, friends on your course or those you've met through societies etc and who you think would complement your social and university life balance.
Look around the property first
Make sure you visit the property before you sign! It is always useful to look round the property as pictures are often very professional, so can sometimes be deceiving. You can also spot any tell-tale signs of trouble such as damp or mould, get a feel for your potential neighbours and overall get a better perspective on the layout of the house.
A major benefit is that you should also be able to talk to the current tenants of the property who should be able to share their experiences and perhaps warn you of any problems they may have had. The current occupants are likely to be more honest about the property so definitely ask they questions about why they're moving out, how quickly the landlord or agent responds to any issues and what the area is like.
Look early...but don't rush
Depending on how many flat mates you are planning on having can make it easier/harder when it comes to looking for houses. Groups of 6s are usually the most popular and the most available, but you may find that a house you fancy may get snapped up quickly. Estate agents may use this excuse to push you into signing your contract sooner so make sure you take your time, look at a good number of properties and have a second viewing before thinking about signing a contract.
Landlords vs Letting Agents
By choosing a landlord you'll have direct contact with the property owner and you can usually save money by avoiding extra fees. Alternatively, you can go through agencies who can give you more security as they are usually regulated businesses and will be government approved.
In second year we went through the agency Homes4u and they were great at dealing with any problems we had like when our boiler broke – but it also meant we paid extra for the credit checks and a large deposit.