The question here is should students completely dismiss the ideas of house hunting? My view – Keep being aware of houses but keep up with the constant policy changes from the government.
Every year, students feel the pressure to find student houses as early as they can to ensure they have secure living arrangements for the next year. Of course, as with everything, COVID-19 has to hinder with the original plans.
COVID-19 has caused many issues for students, whether it be zoom seminars, online lectures, or the lack of a social life. One of the main concerns this time of year specifically, however, is housing. Student contracts for housing are pesky, and hard to get out of so it it may seem in the best interest of the students to leave contract signing until the start of 2021.
We don’t want our students at the moment having to choose between food and rent and that unfortunately is the situation for quite a few of them.’Previous SU Community & Wellbeing Officer, Steph Hale’s’ quote to the BBC
This is one of the reasons for avoiding contract signing. The stereotype that students are tight on money is sadly true for many. Many students are strapped for cash due to limited student loans and/or the loss of their jobs due to the current situation.
This advice seems to be a shared opinion. Sheffield SU Welfare Officer, Holly Ellis, has also advised students to not sign any housing contracts until after the Christmas break.
‘Once you’ve signed a contract, it’s really difficult to get out of it’Holly Ellis, Sheffield SU Welfare Officer. (from The Tab: Sheffield)
A few weeks ago, Carly Precious (Community and Wellbeing Officer) advised students not to rent yet and on Wednesday, students received an official email advising the same thing, with some reasons. As valid as those reasons are, they do come with some issues.
From my experience, house hunting was stressful, and we were lucky to be able to sign a housing contract so late in the academic year at the end of January. The email states that we should wait to ‘panic’ the landlords. Nevertheless, circumstances were different this time last year. COVID-19 had much less of a detrimental affect. My house did wait until January last year and I can tell you that we were the ones ‘panicking’! Yet, this year is different. There is the issue of students leaving it until January. Some students have already been looking for houses, and with the lack of other students looking, they will be able to sign the contracts first. For the students who decide to wait, they may be part of a student stampede, looking for houses when housing options will be much more limited or non-existent.
The idea of leaving housing hunting until 2021 could work if every student left it until then. Although, my housemates and I received an e-mail a week or so ago, telling us we already have a few students interested in moving in next year. It seems students are already on the lookout. Houses are already being signed, whilst some letting agents have decided to wait until January to advertise their houses. Even so, it seems most letting agents are carrying on similarly to how it was pre-COVID. Waiting until January could work if ALL students would wait and if ALL letting agents would too. This is not the case, however.
Carly’s advice is quite a bold statement but I can see the reasons behind it. These times are uncertain, and we have no idea what may happen. Though, I wouldn’t avoid house hunting completely until the recommended date. Policies are continuously changing so it may be beneficial to keep being aware of the changes which will affect student living arrangements.
To sign or not to sign? The concrete answer for that question is uncertain but it may be wise to look online for possible housing choices, and do some pseudo-planning.