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What Questions You're Marketing Manager Should Be Asking Comparison Websites
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What Questions You’re Marketing Manager Should Be Asking Comparison Websites

Written by Sam | November 20, 2020

I want to write this email from a comparison website point of view. This will help you spot the ones making the right movements and making sure they are going in the right direction if they are a relatively new start up.

Conversions

In todays world we are obsessed with impressions, views etc, however, what REALLY matters is how long someone viewed the video, how many people clicked through to your website and how many people stayed on your website and inquired on the student accommodation.

What doesn’t matter is how many views they get to their website, how many people see their video because although it may float the ego, the only thing that pays the bills is bookings and that requires actions.

You should be asking, how many inquiries they are getting in a certain period, what is their strongest location and seller. These questions will help you determine whether your product will fit in with their current demographic.

Finally, I can make a great advert, tell you that it got 1 million impressions, but no one clicked through to the site.

How Do They Reach Different Students To You?

What is their marketing strategy? Are they putting all their eggs into one basket of social media ads or are they mixing online and offline marketing. If they mention that they are just a digital marketing company then that’s a red flag for me, all marketers know that online X offline has a greater compound effect than online X online. Mark Ritson has written extensively about this.

Even online companies branch out into different marketing campaigns because there are more ways to reach students than FB & Google Ads.

With smaller companies, they have to be more creative to reach students because if they don’t they will end up in a price war with accommodation providers who have a lot of money to spend on ad spend and other marketing.

As they are nimble and smaller they can be creative and react faster to events compared to a big company.

How Do They Engage Students

Focus on how they attract students and engage students, because ultimately, those who do this will have a bigger following and are likely to increase that over the following years.

Many companies now will rely on ads and ads are a great way to bring people into your space, however, it is what happens next. Many talks of funnels, pipelines, and all these other bits and it is entirely what works for you, however, focus on how they engage students and what they are doing.

Do they bring people in and then engage with them through IGTV, Reels, Facebook Lives, Email Campaigns, YouTube or WhatsApp Broadcasts.

If you can, sign up for some of these services, they might not be much use to you, but you can then see what is being sent. This will help you to understand how they engage students and get them to take action of booking properties.

Brands

This can be both business and personal, either way one of the most important parts of a company is the brand. As a student accommodation provider you might position yourself in the market to be affordable, luxurious, sustainable, design led, or anything else, so when you partner with a company you really want to look at what their brand is and what they want to be.

I don’t mean, the all time leading student booking agent, many will have a goal like that, here they need a purpose of some kind. For example, ours is that we only list good quality student accommodation and letting agents. This includes their service and not just the quality of the house.

This means that we position ourselves away from the baseline student accommodation because usually it doesn’t offer what we want to promote. We want to make sure students have a good experience and they are more likely to stay there another year and have positive experiences.

If you partner with the wrong brand or referral agent then it can become a bit of a nightmare, because you don’t want your brand to be dragged down.

How can you potentially spot one of these:

  • No regards for students or accommodation providers
  • Will happily list a lot of student accommodation, even if it is unsafe
  • Cut Corners to make easy wins

There will be many others but this is what I have found.

Bots, Bots & More Bots

In the online world bots can be very useful, they can crawl your website and list it in google, however, on the flip side it can have a negative effect, if you are running ads, bots can hit the site, creating website views to go up and bounce rate to increase and conversions to go down. This is because the interaction isn’t human, it’s an instantaneous one.

If they are running ads, I would just check to see if they have done anything to prevent this because your referrals will be lower from the agent and they will be spending more. This way you won’t be asked to increase referral prices and the agent can refer humans for student accommodation!

Summary

To round it all up, there is plenty more I could talk about and will add it all in as I go along.

Don’t focus just on website hits and views, these are ego boosters. Ask what booking rate they have, how do they get them to take action because this is ultimately what is going to make you, the accommodation provider, money. Website views do not make you money, so please do not judge everything on website views.

By focusing on the key metrics you can start to understand where they are at.

Look at how they engage students and what do they offer, make sure that their brand aligns with yours and see if you can partner in ways to make it work for both of you. You don’t want to end up with a bad agent due to something that could of been avoided!

By engaging students, they are likely to grow their following in the future because of the engagement. The best example of this so far this year (2020) is TikTok. Engagement and comments trumps all!

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Written by Sam | November 20, 2020

If a student accommodation has it’s own gym then this is or can be a great asset because it can save you a gym membership, walking in the cold and all the hassle because it is literally downstairs.

What To Look For: Student Accommodation & Gyms

If the gym is downstairs, make sure you look at the size of the gym because what can happen is that it is stuffed in to a corner and then filled with mirrors to make it look bigger and that’s when you realise you should of looked at the gym before booking a room because it had a gym!

What to look for:

  • Size – Make sure that is a good size and not squeezed into a corridor that can only fit 5 people in
  • Equipment – The equipment doesn’t need to be first-class, state of the art, but make sure that it is good and it will do the job you want it to do
  • Space – This will go hand in hand with size but make sure machines are given enough space and there is an area where you can do other activities like a stretch, foam roll, resistance bands, etc.
  • Serious Gym Goers – Unfortunately these gyms are less likely to be for you, these are more health-related gyms and won’t have the heavyweights or machinery that you require.
  • Cleanliness – Sometimes they can be the last thought of the accommodation, not very often, but gyms require a bit more cleaning than other areas, because of the sweat and touchpoints it has. Make sure that it is cleaned regularly and doesn’t smell!
  • Quality of the room – By this I mean the environment, make sure that it’s bright, ventilated, air con in summer, and motivational.

Cost of Having a Gym in Your Student Accommodation

There will be many student accommodations that have and don’t have a gym, if prices is something you are conscious about then you need to weigh up the price.

A gym membership in a local gym combined with living in a student house is likely to be cheaper than living in student accommodation, however, it is less convenient because it is not in the place that you live, however, it is likely to have more machines, heavier weights and changing rooms with showers.

You could also choose to live in a cheaper room or have less facilities and opt to go to a local gym because that would be cheaper. There is no right answer, only what is right for you!

Student Accommodation & Gyms: Mental Health

As mentioned before they have them for convenience and also because exercise is great for mental health. Doing a bit of exercise a day does wonders for your mind and body and many student accommodation providers have taken it upon themselves to offer a gym to make it easier for students to exercise with the overall effect being happiness.

If student accommodation can make students happy through the gyms, support, study areas, environment, quality rooms and everything else they do, the student is more likely to have a good experience and recommend it to friends and future students. This means that they don’t have put as much in to marketing because students who have had a good time will do it for them.

Exercising has these benefits (Taken From Mind):

  • better sleep – by making you feel more tired at the end of the day
  • happier moods – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy
  • managing stressanxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts – doing something physical releases cortisol which helps us manage stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult time
  • better self-esteem – being more active can make you feel better about yourself as you improve and meet your goals
  • reducing the risk of depression – studies have shown that doing regular physical activity can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression
  • connecting with people – doing group or team activities can help you meet new and like-minded people, and make new friends.

Should You Live in Student Accommodation With a Gym or Student House Without a Gym and Get a Local Membership

If you like convenience, good quality rooms and prefer to go to a gym for health reasons over building muscle then living in student accommodation would be better for you providing you can afford the rent.

It makes everything easier because it’s all in one payment, bills, gym, rent & WiFi. However, it can be costly.

If you prefer to go to the gym to build muscle and more of a body builder, are conscious about the cost of living in student accommodation then I would recommend you look at the type of room in student accommodation, however, you will most likely want a gym that is local because the membership will be cheaper, the weights will be higher and they will have more equipment for you to train on.

Student accommodation will have the basics for health and only a handful will have weights that go above a certain amount because very few people use them.

Summary

Gyms are great in student accommodation, you won’t find them in student housing, however, before you book anything, make sure that you look at some of the aspects of the gym because some will advertise the fact that they have gyms but they are a far cry from what a gym should look like!

Look at these aspects:

  • Size
  • Equipment
  • Space
  • Cleanliness
  • Quality of the room

Finally, gyms are great for a students mental health, but only if they are good quality, make sure it’s an environment you can train in and make a better version of you.

Written by Sam | October 29, 2020

Follow these steps and tips if the next student accommodation you want to find is high quality, good service and an enjoyable experience.

Research The Student Accommodation

This is like researching for an assignment, you need to know what is out there, however, more importantly, you need to know who to avoid and who to go and see.

There will be some landlords and providers that have a very good service that are reputable and then there are some out there that you will get a bad experience and these are the ones you want to stay away from.

Always View The Accommodation

During the pandemic, yes it might be something you can’t do physically, however, if you can do it virtually then make sure you do it. If the landlord or provider is offering to take you on a video viewing then take them up on it because you will be able to see the house.

Virtual viewings are a great thing because you can view the house when ever you like and can build up an image of what it will be like, however, the house is at it’s very best and the best providers will make sure it looks like that when you move in, others may have had that take 5 years ago and the quality isn’t as it is on the virtual viewing.

If you can view always do and don’t be afraid to follow these steps in what to do and ask when on a virtual viewing.

Tenancy Agreement

This is a bit not many will do but I will break it down in to some key areas to focus on so you don’t have to read the whole tenancy, however, I think you should give it a good read.

Most tenancies will be very similar, so once you have read one, you have read most and they will all be adapted to suit the provider.

Deposits – Make sure you know how much your deposit is and what scheme they are registered to with. Just a simple question and they should be able to tell you.

Rent – Ask when you pay and how you pay. Usually by bank transfer but a lot ask for termly rent and some ask for monthly.

Cancellations – If you need to leave for whatever reason, then you need to understand what it is going to cost you to leave. A lot of the time it is the full years rent if you can’t get someone to take over your tenancy which is why you will see so many Facebook posts about re-selling rooms.

Responsibilities – Know what you are liable for and know what the landlord is liable for. This will help you keep the house in good order and make sure you can stay on top of all the important bits.

Speak & View More Than One Agent

You might have a preferred agent which is fine, however, always go to more than one agent and then you can compare service and quality of housing. This will help you understand who is good at what they do and who is bad.

The Extras

If you are staying in PBSA type student accommodation you will need look at what is included, many are very similar and will offer gym, cinemas, study rooms, bikes, breakfast etc. However, this is all in a bid to get you in their door, so make sure that if the prices are all the same, go with the one where you get the most and if there is a difference, I would go on what you value most for the deciding factor e.g. Location, price, rooms size, company etc.

Google Is Your Friend

Whoever you are searching for a house with, Google the company and see what the top few links are. If they are bad, they will have been spoken about in various articles and by other students and it will show up. This is a quick way to save yourself from a year of regret.

Compare

Once you have found a few places that you like, make sure that you compare them. For me, what I looked at when I was at university is the price, location and bills included.

Your values might be different and you might prefer to be closer to uni and happier to pay more. However, make sure you have them in front of you and compare what each one has and whether the price matches the quality.

From the Knight Frank report in January 2020, the biggest common factor of what made students happy was the location and a lot of students looked for value before the final cost.

A lot of student accommodations can offer a lot of added extras and benefits but look at what you really get for your money. Don’t look at incentives for this because accommodations will earn that back in rent, really look at:

  • Bed size
  • Room size
  • Location
  • Bills included
  • Parking
  • Type of service they offer
  • Rent
  • Deposit
  • Cancellation fees and other tenancy requirements
  • Reputation
  • Quality of housing
  • What you get in your room or house

Booking Your New Student Accommodation!

Once you have done this and you are happy that they are what they say they are and you will be happy there, then don’t be afraid to book. You have reduced the risk massively by doing the research and going on viewings and reading the tenancies.

If you have any questions about student accommodation or you want to double check that a provider is legitimate, then please WhatsApp me via the website.

Discover. Trust. Review.

Written by Sam | October 28, 2020

If you know a student or friend who is having to isolate because either them or someone in their lecture or building has had COVID, then here are some ways you can offer to help them to make sure they are staying, happy and healthy.

  • Give them a call

Just calling them and making sure they are ok won’t go unnoticed. If they aren’t expecting it, even better because it could just make their day. You don’t have to call them for long, it can be a quick check up, but it can break up their day for them.

  • Offer to grab them some food

It is inevitable that they will forget something on the food shop and they need it for a recipe etc, if that is the case and you are going or ordering, grab it and take it around for them. You can leave it on the doorstep for them and remain socially distanced.

  • Leave them a surprise

This doesn’t have to be big or expensive, it can be a coffee, something you made, a small plant, anything they like to let them know that you are thinking of them.

  • Organise a social event

Being in isolation can be hard but being able to speak and see different people is very refreshing after about the 5th day. It can be just a group of you having a chat or something more serious like a quiz. If you are a gamer, you can organise a time to play and game with each other and then you can spend some time together and time can go really fast when you are gaming!

  • Try and make them laugh

If you find a good meme on social media, or a video on TikTok then be sure to share it with them. This will give them a quick laugh and spread the endorphins to make them feel better.

  • Be a listener

In isolation it can be tough and they will hit a range of emotions, if they need someone to talk to, offer your services.

  • Encourage them to learn something new

Encourage them to try a new hobby or become better at something, something I tried was to learn a new language on Duo Lingo. I’m still not perfect, however, I am better than what I was. If you have something they can use, drop it off and ask for it back after their isolation period, but make sure you sanitize it first.

Summary

At some point each uni and most student accommodations will have to do their stint in isolation because of the R number reaching above a certain point. If this happens and you have done your time or don’t need to do it yet, make sure that you look after your friends because when you need to do it, they will be there for you.

You don’t need to take hours out of your day and spend your whole student loan, just letting them know the effort is made with no expectation of anything back means a lot to people.

If you want someone to talk to and are in isolation, feel free to WhatsApp me and I will be happy to talk to you!

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Written by Sam | October 28, 2020

In a previous article, I mentioned that I disagreed with students booking student accommodation in October and November and I just wanted to explain the reasons behind why so many students book in these early months.

If you have done your research, you know what you want and you have been on several viewings then booking isn’t that bad, but many students rush in because the demand outweighs the good supply of student accommodation and is effectively a race to the bottom in most student cities.

Supply Vs Demand

In most student cities there is enough accommodation for each student as not all will get booked, however, the problem arises when the good quality and valuable accommodation gets taken and then what’s left is average or below par student accommodation that charges premium prices because they know there aren’t many other options left.

Student accommodation can cost more than you think and there is nothing wrong with this as long as the quality and services matches, however, when the prices stays the same and the quality goes down and the service disappears it then becomes frustrating for the students.

Many property investors will invest in a HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation) because they can rent out each room instead of the house as a whole. The costs associated with it are higher but the returns are also greater. The management is also greater because students will leave each year or two and there is likely to be faults on the property at some point – landlords can’t avoid every fault.

Local councils have introduced standards so that in certain areas the HMO needs to be licensed and inspected by the council, but some still fall through the net.

Why Students Book?

Many student accommodation providers including letting agents open their bookings up for the next academic year in late October. A lot of the time the market can be driven by students booking for the following year because of fear and security.

Many students want to know that they have a good, reliable, quality place to stay for the following year. Roughly according to research from Knight Frank roughly about 10% of students book in October / November from the sample they took and then it increases in the following months. I would want to know that I will be staying in a good place for next year.

The fear comes out of not having a place to stay or having bad student accommodation, however, what is very common is that many students can regret the people they are living with or their choice of the accommodation provider. If you have found a good place and live with good people then rebooking is a good idea and should come first.

If students start the process later of researching letting agents, student accommodation providers and attending viewings to compare places to stay then their chances go down because of the students that have booked already and if they leave it too long they aren’t sure what will be left and if it will be good quality.

These aspects cause the process of students to start booking accommodation early for the following year.

Reasons To Wait Before Booking Your Student Accommodation

As I have said before, I think it should be left until later for the following reasons:

  • You know where you want to live
  • Who you want to live with
  • You know the providers and the type of service they offer
  • Know what a good quality student house looks like
  • Understand what is high rent for below standard accommodation
  • You can read the tenancies

These are the reasons why, if you leave it an extra 4-6 weeks you can save a year of regret for yourself and potentially your friends.

From an accommodation & letting agent point of view, they want students to book for the following year because they can start to see what the demand is like and forecasting their budgets and making sure that they are going to be making enough money. Everyone in the business needs rent to survive and pay staff, pay investors and make sure they can offer a better service than last year!

It needs balance, if you have done your research and know what you want and who you want to live with, book your accommodation for next academic year and you won’t have to worry about it for the following year, if you haven’t done anything, please do the research and follow the process before booking next years student accommodation.

It is changing and there is more good student accommodation being built, designed and renovated, but at this current time, there still isn’t enough!

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Written by Sam | October 28, 2020

This is something that no one thought they would have to deal with at university or in the world more than a year ago. However, at these present times, we need to protect ourselves and others while at the same time try and live a life we only get to do once and we aren’t sure of how long it will be.

I will break it down in to two areas, Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) and Private Student Rented or Student Housing.

Purpose Built Student Accommodation & Coronavirus

Many of the operators and managers have done an incredible job here in helping students get to university safely and put in a lot of measures to make sure it is as safe as possible, some of these measures are:

  • Flexible start dates
  • Quarantine stays
  • No visa – No cancellation fee
  • Upped the cleaning regimes
  • Sanitizer stations
  • Socially distanced events
  • Isolation support
  • Reduced students in areas such as the gym & cinema rooms

If you are living in University-owned halls, that aren’t managed and are just simply student accommodation then the service will be a lot less service as they will be managing a lot more students across multiple accommodations and locations. You can still expect these sort of services:

  • Flexible start dates
  • Quarantine stays
  • Isolation support
  • No visa – no fees
  • Upped Cleaning
  • Sanitizer stations

The university will have all it’s risk assessments and health and safety aspects in place but it might not have an accommodation manager for each one of it’s blocks, however, if they are managed by a third party, which a lot are, then you can expect the above service.

How To Beat Lockdown in Student Accommodation

If you are locked down and become a tier 3 area, here are some ways to make sure that you beat the lockdown.

  • Have a routine – Include work, exercise, rest, eating, washing, and socialising.
  • Exercise is important it can come in a lot of different forms. A personal favourite of mine is doing a HIIT work out from Joe Wicks YouTube channel.
  • Eat well – By this, I mean resist the urge to snack all the time and eat junk food. A lot of accommodation managers will help you if you book a delivery they can bring it to your door and make sure you eat a healthy diet. With all the time, start cooking meals!
  • Friends – Make sure you give your friends a call leave them a voice note, and video call family and friends to let them know you are ok but also to help you. The accommodation will be running some form of virtual event, make sure that you go to this and see others.
  • Brain Training – A lot of the time in isolation, if you haven’t got any work to do or lectures to attend, then mental stimulation is a must. If you watch Netflix all day then it will go slow. Make sure you get some form of test in there, this can be a quiz, puzzle, research or anything else that will test your brain for a short period of time.
  • Fresh air – If you stay in your room for a period of time, it will get stuffy, make sure you open the window and let some fresh air in and this should raise spirits when low.
  • Get ready – In the mornings, it is easy to put the comfy clothes you wore yesterday on, skip brushing your teeth or having a shower because you aren’t seeing anyone. Still do all these things, make sure you have a shower and brush your teeth, it will help you get up and out of bed and make you feel fresh in the mornings! Washing is a tricky part because you are most likely to share a laundry room and if you have COVID then you won’t be able to mix. Speak to the accommodation manager and make sure that you see if you can get a designated time and it is then cleaned after or one of your friends can take the washing down and bring it back up again.

If you are living in a studio and you are not in an apartment with others, this might be harder, but it depends on the person you are. Still use the tips above, however, have a big emphasis on the socialising part. Two weeks without seeing anyone might seem great at first, but there will be a point where you will want to hear and speak to another human over the phone, Zoom or any other app.

Private Rented Student Housing & Coronavirus

This year, if you have chosen to stay in a house with friends, this isn’t a problem. Sharing a house with your friends is a great because it means you will all be doing it together and get through the isolation together, however, first before we get on to some tips, what should life look like if there is no isolation and be the new current standard operating procedures.

  • There won’t be sanitizing stations in houses, but they will be deep cleaned before you move in
  • Policies and procedures should be on the letting agents website
  • Flexible start dates and tenancies if they can
  • No visa – No cancellation fees
  • Isolation support

With living in student housing, there aren’t accommodation managers but they are there to help you. It means that house will be cleaned before it is handed over and then it is your job to maintain it.

A lot of the letting agents and landlords moved their tenancies in line with the local university’s first lecture and this should carry over if COVID lasts until next September.

How to Beat Lockdown in Student Housing

You can use the following points from student accommodation as they will cross over, however, personally I think you are in a much better position than those in student accommodation. Even though you won’t have an accommodation manager, virtual events and a gym with you, what you do (or should) have is your friends around you.

  • Have a routine – Include work, exercise, rest, eating, washing, and socialising. If it’s something like washing or cooking, put it on the wall and get the whole house involved and dish out the housework. For example, take turns to cook, hoover & wash up. Put this on the wall so then everyone knows who is doing what!
  • Exercise is important it can come in a lot of different forms. A personal favourite of mine is doing a HIIT work out from Joe Wicks YouTube channel. If you want, you can all do this together in the living room by creating some space.
  • Eat well – Try and order as a house, this could save you some money and the delivery person coming back 5 times. If you plan meals, you will spend less and designate someone to cook and clean, it will become something that hopefully stays with you.
  • Friends – This has two sides for me. Spend time with your housemates and speaking to friends outside your house over the phone etc, however, on the flip side know when you need to spend some time by yourself. We all reach a point where we just need a few hours in our own heads before we go back to the group.
  • Brain Training – Come up with games, quizzes, tests or anything that will get you thinking. This is easier to do with housemates because you can create groups and do virtual quizzes.
  • Fresh air – If you stay in your room for a period of time, it will get stuffy, make sure you open the window and let some fresh air in and this should raise spirits when low.
  • Get ready – In the mornings, it is easy to put the comfy clothes you wore yesterday on, skip brushing your teeth or having a shower because you aren’t seeing anyone. Still do all these things, make sure you have a shower and brush your teeth, it will help you get up and out of bed and make you feel fresh in the mornings!

There will be many more tips and tricks you can do, however, from my own personal experience of isolation these are what I used and found to be the most effective ways for me.

Finally, if you haven’t already, look at sports clubs and societies to join, they host a lot of virtual events and you will meet a lot of new people. You might not be able to go to any events or trials, however, you will be included in all their Facebook groups and there will be plenty of events where you can meet other students who might also be in isolation or have been through it!

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Written by Sam | October 25, 2020

Gas safety is a very important part of health and safety not just in the student world, but also in any household, it is merely amplified with students because of the concentration of people living in the accommodation.

Firstly, the accommodation should be having a yearly service on your gas boiler to make sure it is compliant and working as it should be. If there is anything wrong, it is illegal for you to take the cover off and start working on it without a gas qualification!

The service can be completed fairly quickly and they will check the pressure of the boiler and make sure that the components of it are holding up well and there are no leaks anywhere. Once they are satisfied, they will give the landlord or letting agent a certificate to say that it has been checked.

If you do encounter a gas leak, the best thing to do is vacate the property. If you can turn the gas off at source this is down to your disgression, however, getting out and calling the gas services or your landlord or letting agent is a must.

You won’t really see the boilers in the PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation) because they will have a different set up, these are usually in private rented student accommodation or housing.

You can get early warnings of a gas leak with a carbon monoxide alarm, if the landlord or letting agent doesn’t provide one of these, then you can buy one for £20 roughly and you will have peace of mind. Any good letting agent or landlord will already have these in place for you, they can be hard wired in or freestanding ones. If you are buying it, you want the freestanding one.

It is illegal for you to obstruct access to the property for a gas service or test because these are required by law, this is different from a tenancy inspection, for these they must give you 24 hours notice.

Again a good letting agent or landlord will have these planned in and they should let you know if they will be happening while you are going to be there.

Before you move into student accommodation, this should be in the pack that they give to you along with the inventory, moving in packs, tenancy, etc. If it isn’t in there, you can ask for it because they should have one and if a letting agent or landlord hasn’t got one then they will need one.

Finally, if they are having one done, the gas engineer needs to be gas safe registered, you can check this on the Gas Safe website and this means that they hold the appropriate qualifications to be able to service the boiler.

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Written by Sam | October 25, 2020

This is a common search term among students, what you are looking for is called a ‘studio’.

A studio is a space that you as a student don’t share, you have a private bathroom and kitchen – This isn’t the dictionary definition.

You will most likely find studios in Purpose Built Student Accommodation Blocks or PBSA as they are known. These are built specifically for students and they contain studios and flats or apartments.

Studios are usually two rooms. One area is the kitchen which transitions in to the dining or living area and then in to the bedroom. The only other room is the bathroom.

A studio is designed to be open plan, easy to navigate and maximise the space.

These are more expensive than sharing because there is only one person in the studio. If you are in a relationship then you can have what is called a ‘Dual Occupancy’.

Studios are great for students who like to have their own space, be in control of their surroundings and enjoy time with their friends but also value the time they have by themselves.

How To Find The Best Studio

  • Always look at the floorplan
  • Go and view the studio and what you will get along with the studio, e.g. gym, study room etc.
  • Look at the kitchen facilities, usually it is a kitchenette rather than a full on kitchen
  • View studios from all the providers and compare the room size
  • Double bed should be a minimum standard
  • Look at the quality of the fixtures and fittings, make sure they are sturdy
  • Does it maximise the space it has and have clever storage places for all your stuff?
  • Plug sockets – Make sure it has a good amount, you can get extension cables, but you don’t want to have one on every plug.

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Written by Sam | October 25, 2020

Private student accommodation can be taken in a few different ways and can be a little confusing, so I will look to distinguish the differences to help you know the difference.

Private Purpose Built Student Accommodation

Purpose Built Student Accommodation or (PBSA) as it is known as. This is where there are big blocks of studios, flats and apartments, however, they are usually made up of studios with communal areas on the lower levels.

These spaces are usually located in the central areas of the city and are managed or owned by a private company. If they are managed then it could be there one year and managed by someone else another, if they own it, it will be there for a long period of time, unless they sell it.

In PBSA you will get an accommodation manager and have a lot of added extras such as:

  • Accommodation manager
  • Bills included
  • Contents insurance
  • Gym / Cinema / Study area
  • Events
  • Bikes

There will be lots of different things that they will have, but, one of the best features of these spaces is the security. They have CCTV, key fob access on the very front doors and accommodation manager and then a key for your own room. It offers a lot of protection.

The only downsides for me on these can be the price tags and the limiting factors of location, as in you may like one provider, but they only have location with lots of beds.

Private Rented / Private Student Housing

These are houses, studios or anything that you rent from a local letting agent or landlord. These student houses tend to only be in the local area and not in multiple areas like the PBSA providers.

These are generally the most popular options with students because they fit the student budget a bit more, however, two of the biggest compromises that are made here are quality and service usually.

With a local letting agent and landlord, the service can differ dramatically depending on who you stay with and some will have a great time and others may not have a good year and want to move out.

A lot of houses are fitted out to a basic level and even though this is changing ever so slowly, you will still find a lot of landlords and letting agent refuse to do a higher specification because ‘students will wreck it’. As I say this is changing slowly and this is because of a mix of the PBSA market and other letting agents completing high standard.

In terms of service, with the companies that manage multiple blocks, they will have a consistent approach throughout all their blocks in multiple cities, however, for letting agents there will be a lot of similarities yet a lot of variances as well.

What I do really like about letting agents and landlords though are:

  • They aren’t bound by big company policies
  • Student housing can be better than PBSA
  • You have a lot more options over the type of house & location
  • You can get bills included if you want
  • Rent is less generally
  • It’s usually a local company with simple processes

The Best Way To Find These Places

If you are searching for private student accommodation, then you can read some tips on another article about finding student accommodation for second-year students however in short:

  • Research is key, make sure you have a look at what is available
  • Always view, whether that is virtual or physical – this will answer a lot of questions
  • Read the tenancy – They are very similar but will all have different requirements
  • Deposits – Make sure that you understand where it goes and the chances of getting it back
  • Always look for quality – That’s in the service and in the house itself.

Summary

When people say private rented, they generally mean from a letting agent or landlord. This is because the alternative is to live in PBSA or halls, which are owned by the university or managed by PBSA providers.

Letting agents and landlord still make up a high percentage of the market currently in the student world, but that is changing due to the amount of PBSA blocks being built.

Living with a letting agent or landlord is currently more cost friendly for students on a budget.

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Written by Sam | October 17, 2020

This is my personal opinion and I disagree with students booking student accommodation in late October and November and here are my reasons.

Firstly, if you arrived in September, you have probably been at university for around 6-8 weeks. This isn’t enough time to get to know someone in order to commit a whole year of living with them, you are still in that nice, honeymoon period where you don’t know what people are truly like yet.

Don’t get caught out by this, because I have seen this happen a lot of times, where students want to downsize their group.

Secondly, unless you have lived there or nearby, you will not know the areas and you will rely on recommendations in order to get good student accommodation. Recommendations are a good thing, but you must trust the person it comes from and you must back up with your own research. Once you have spent a few months in the area and been around those areas, you will understand which areas will be best for you.

In the Knight Frank study in January 2020, the biggest factor of happiness in student accommodation was the location. It is important to understand where the student parts are and what options you have.

Thirdly, you might not know what you want. From this I mean you might not know the group size or whether you want to share at all, you might want to live in a studio. There are a lot of options open to students, however, they can go quickly which is why many book student accommodation so early.

Fourth. The student accommodation providers, you will have heard some good reviews and some bad reviews about others, however, you will need to make your own decision with an influence of what others have found. Unless you are in a society, then these recommendations and reviews might be trickier to find.

Lastly, you need to take your time to view the student houses and accommodation. You can do a lot of viewings in a week if you want to, however, many students will book a house without even do a viewing and this is a gamble you shouldn’t be taking.

Viewings in my eyes are essential and this can be virtual or in person. If you view you can see the quality of the accommodation, you can ask lots of questions, you can see how big the rooms are, you can look at the kitchen and you can decide whether it would work for you.

You can figure out what is important to you and what you value in a house!

Researching Student Accommodation

The time comes in needing to research the houses and especially the agents, the agents are going to be the ones providing you with a service and responsible for the experience you get in renting. It will also help to understand some of the terminologies that go around, what it means and the basics you get as a student. For example, when it says, bills included, that doesn’t mean that everything is included. I am sure if the heating is on at 30 degrees, some of that cost will make it back to you. Another example could be, repairs and understanding how they classify repairs in importance or urgency.

It can either be a great one, with some good friends, in a nice house with good furnishings or it can be a bad experience, with late repairs, no deposits and a freezing house because your bills are capped.

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