With next-to-zero information provided to us, there's nothing to counteract the accommodation-rush, which leaves every tenant to fight for himself. We are unprecedented in revealing figures on the true nature of properties available, made possible due to a 27-week study by Stuome.com of the university approved accommodation. This week the university controlled website, Durham Student Pad, is listing less than 60 properties and most of these are for tenancies to start before Christmas. Looking back to the end of May 2013, when most students had signed contracts and already forgotten about them, the website was still listing almost 800 rooms available across 136 properties. Because the panic had passed, and some properties were still to be listed, the availability remained stable until July. The quick-fire renters moved their belongings in and then spent summer with the parentals, it wasn't until September that houses significantly started being taken without any new houses getting listed. Before the study, no facts were available to support either side of the argument “if you wait, you'll be homeless”. Now we know you can wait until June, while the study continues on, monitoring and reporting the situation.
If you've been convinced not to rush into renting a house then there are plenty of other things to start considering. Think about saving money living in the cheaper areas of Gilesgate and Neville's Cross, enjoying the upmarket areas of the Viaduct and Framwellgate Moor, or is it important to be convenient and close to town in Elvet? In a recent survey that accompanied the availability study, 58% of people felt location was an important factor in choosing a house, yet budgeting is still the main concern with 90% of respondents listing price in their top 3 criteria. A student living in the viaduct regarded their house as “really overpriced, as all houses seem to be”.
We'll be keeping a close eye on the rental market so we can inform you what to be aware of and how get in the best situation for living out of college. In previous years advise from colleges and the DSU has been to wait until the Christmas chocolate has run out and start looking towards the end of January. If you're already living out, you can help the public understanding of letting agent nightmares and successes by filling out Stuome's survey with your experiences. While you're waiting for more properties to be advertised over these 3 months, kick your feet back, relax, and free your mind to worry about those assignments the lecturers keep mentioning.
This article first appeared in The Bubble as "STOP! Don’t rent yet", dated 19th November 2013.