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How To Spot Bad Student Accommodation Virtually
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How To Spot Bad Student Accommodation Virtually

Written by Sam | December 7, 2020

Previously I have spoken about How To Spot a Bad Student Room & How To Spot a Bad Student Letting Agent or Landlord but the problem that is around currently and for many international students they have to try and do this from afar and virtually.

If you are having to view student accommodation virtually and you want to understand whether it is good student accommodation or not from a distance then hopefully these tips should help you.

Always Get a Video Tour – If You Can’t I Wouldn’t Book

For me this is something that every student needs to do, if you can get a physical viewing then that is the best, if not a video call is your second best option and here are my reasons.

By having a video call you know they are real, sounds daft, but you can know the place exists and that people work there.

After this, you can ask to look in places you can’t do on a virtual tour. You can ask for closer inspections of the shower, bedroom, cupboards, kitchens, and anything else.

To make the most of your video call, be sure to do these:

  • Ask for close-ups of areas that look “tired” and areas like the bathroom and kitchen to try and gauge the quality of the furnishings
  • Make sure you get a look in each room and a 360 spin so that parts of the room aren’t being skipped or left out on purpose and be aware of anyone saying that you shouldn’t look in a particular room.
  • Take a look at all bedrooms or the ones that are available so you can choose which one you prefer.
  • Be aware if they are trying to get you to book the room or house on the call without looking at the tenancy agreement first.
  • If they don’t answer your questions which are very standard questions then I would be cautious.

Also, when the property has a virtual tour conducted, they are going to be in top condition. Please remember this.

Be Aware of Old Photos of Student Accommodation

If the photos haven’t been updated for a period of time, I would be suspect of anything over 3 years personally, but this can be hard to tell if there isn’t a time stamp.

However, if the photos look like they haven’t been updated for a while make sure that you get on a video tour so you can see the quality of the property. Normally, the properties go through a refurb every couple of years due to the amount of usage they go through with students.

Unnatural Behaviour

This is a very loose description however, when something just doesn’t add up then I would be cautious.

If they aren’t answering your questions, pushing for you to book, not showing you the whole property, haven’t explained anything about rent or deposit then I would be cautious.

If this happens, before you book view at least 2 more houses with other providers and see what they are like and if their behaviour is drastically different, then you might have just saved yourself a bad experience and a lot of hassle.

Tired Fixtures & Fittings in Student Accommodation

As you are on the video call, take a close look at the fixtures and fittings, these are items such as:

  • Sofas
  • Lamps
  • Beds
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Wardrobes

If you want to be really cheeky, you can ask them to open, sit or use said item and show you the view etc and get a close-up of the fixture or fitting so you can see the quality.

The Writing on the Walls

The walls of the accommodation can help you spot any structural damage which is unlikely, however, it can help you spot any damp spots.

You will barely ever see any wallpapered student accommodation, however, you can tell if an accommodation or house will have damp because the paint will be discoloured, falling away and if you were present you would be able to smell it.

You won’t be able to tell this if it has recently been refurbished and painted, however, if you notice any watermarks, discoloured or paint falling off, ask the question and see what they say.

Outside Areas: Garden and Street

Something that gets overlooked, however, in every place there are good streets and not so good streets and you will never be able to know from a video call, however, just having a look allows you to make a judgement call.

Also having a look at the outside of the property gives you an idea what the condition might be like, I would look out for:

  • Old wooden windows – It will be cold if not done properly and are they secure?
  • Doors – Do they look secure?


If you have to book accommodation from afar, don’t be afraid to ask for a video tour with the landlord or agent. This means that you can take a good look around and ask any questions.

As an overview make sure you follow these tips when viewing student accommodation virtually:

  • Look at the doors and windows to check security
  • Fixtures and fittings to make sure they are OK to use, not broken or stuck together.
  • Look in all the rooms and make sure you get a 360 view so that you can spot any potential bad areas.
  • Look at the walls and see if any are discoloured or have paint falling off them as that can be a sign of damp
  • Behaviour if they are resisting going somewhere, answering questions or being too pushy about booking the house I would view more houses to see if that is the norm.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them on WhatsApp! If you want more information on how to get your second-year accommodation, then read this article for more information. How To Find Your Second Year Student Accommodation

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