For many of you your home is soon to, or may already, be a rented student house. After experiencing halls you probably think things can get much worse in terms of your accommodation - especially if you were a student in Keele's truly wonderful Hawthorns halls - and in most cases you're probably right, but just to give you a little knowledge of what to expect I thought I'd pass on my experience, as well as that of my friends and family, of being a student tenant.
So first off, be aware that your neighbours may already hate you. As a group of students, they expect nothing less than parties, noise, sex and alcohol - and they're probably readying themselves to complain about you a lot during the coming year. For us, we were reported to the council on our first night at our new house, due to noise. After a visit from a man from the council giving us a stern telling off whilst we all sat around our dingy kitchen table still drunk and in our pj's we made the decision to go round and apologise. A few days later when we popped next door, the lady informed us that she didn't want to come round and ask us to be quiet because she thought we might be 'dangerous' and 'unfriendly'. In most cases, your neighbours won't live in fear that you are knife wielding youths who are a danger to society. One group of my friends experienced a next door neighbour who went no less than bat shit crazy every time they had people over for pre drinks - even if it wasn't noisy. Though to calm her down, all you had to do was send the lads from the house round to make an apology, because she fancied the pants off of them. My advice is to simply try your best to be considerate of your neighbours, try to keep the noise levels a little lower than if you were in halls, give them some warning if you're planning a party or a gathering so they know what to expect, and try to refrain from swearing whilst sitting outside in the garden - the thing that our neighbour complains about most.
Don't expect that everyone will understand recycling - or be bothered to do it. In most halls your bins have just disappeared by the time you crawl out of your hungover pit, but when you live in a student house they never go away. Often rubbish can be found to be piled up over the bin bag itself, the large dust bin can be seen to be spilling over with take away boxes and bottles, whilst any smashed crockery will remain on the side until someone decides it's time to go. The recycling is a whole other story, and in many student houses a bit of a battle. Some choose not to recycle what can clearly be recycled, others choose to attempt to recycle everything - and quite often in the wrong place. You have a bag for cardboard, a box for tins and glass, bags for plastic, green boxes for food waste in which you're supposed to place another council provided bag - to stop you from trying in future I can tell you now it doesn't even fit in the food waste bin. Whilst it seems somewhat easier to give up on recycling and throw everything in your bin, you'll discover that once your outside bin is already full, the bin man won't take any extra bin bags away. Apparently 7 extra bin bags was too many for them...Fortunately for us our landlord made them disappear - had he not, we would have had to load them in a car and - the horror - take them to the dump ourselves. So try to get on top of recycling, if not for the environment, for the back seat of your car that could have to carry a mountain of stinking black bags of waste.
If your landlord says that your house comes with a cleaner, don't believe them. Many groups of students are told this to give them piece of mind that they still won't have to clean up their own mess, and it's usually a lie. We're still waiting for ours to pop round and clean the oven - because seriously guys, I'm not tackling that. It's a simple fib that entices many. It took a few months before my boyfriend's cleaner actually popped round, by which point he was too disgusted by the mess him, his 7 housemates and various nights of pre drinks had caused, and had tidied the place mostly by himself. You will find that you'll get sick and tired of living in filth, and also discover that some of your housemates don't really mind filth.
On that note, if your landlord also says that your house comes with a hoover, don't trust them. Yes, okay it does comes with a hoover, but one that actually hoovers up things? Nope. This shit's 40 year's old and barely sucks up a speck of dust, let alone pizza crusts and smashed glass (don't worry I don't really try to hoover either of those up). But you get my point, it's rarely going to do a good job of getting the muddy foot prints and thousands of crumbs off of the carpets - so give it your best effort, but usually it won't have improved too much by the time you're done. In my case, my hoover actually exploded a mountain of dust over my bedroom floor and my mum - her fault for standing in the way. Lucky for me it was my last night there (until September anyway)...
Expect there to be one person who never buys cleaning products. In my house, everyone was pretty good with this and we all took it in turns to buy things like washing up liquid, bin bags and sponges, but in other houses it may not be so easy. If you've all moved in as a group of friends it's much easier to agree upon one person buying something one week, and another the next, but if you've moved in as strangers you may feel a bit rude asking someone you don't know but now live with to buy the next bottle of Fairy. Try to keep the costs equally spread out, because if you're never contributing towards the communal products or the main one buying all of them, either people are going to get fed up with you, or you're going to get fed up with people.
And my last warning is, don't expect your landlord to fix things that are broken the week, or even the month, or even the year, that things break. In my student house, we've had issues with a leaking shower, a broken shower door, a leaking sink, electric switches tripping (not like we were trippin' when all these problems kept happening) that all took a lot of time to be sorted...actually our sink was still leaking when we left and I'd gone so long without a shower door I sort of forgot that I ever had one. During our first week my friend's bed broke in our house, and whilst it only took a few days for the new one to arrive, the remnants of his original bed are still sat in our back garden - which our landlord said would be taken away (yeah we could take it away ourselves but our landlord has a van...not sure why that's an excuse). Putting things off is a common trait among landlords, because understandably broken things + fixing things = money. And most of the time they know that the student population can't really be bothered to argue and will still get by using a shower that leaks into the kitchen and trips the entirety of our electric supply that forces us to get ready for 9am lectures in winter beside candle light, continue to use a door less shower because it prepares you for the cold when you step out of the shower anyway, and find use for a broken bed - smashing it up just a little bit more when we're all drunk.
So there you have it. Aside from all those lengthy warnings expect to face the cold due to heating bills, be shocked at the expense of a light bulb and one day, have to face the horror of cleaning out the fridge or even worse...the toilet. Oh and it really goes without saying, but expect more mouldy discoveries at the back of the fridge for another year running!
Enjoy your student house guys! Really though, living with friends is a hoot. And in all seriousness, in the case that this post has terrified you rather than made you laugh, these are all just possibilities. There's plenty of positives that come with living in a student house, and fun and freedom are included and help you to overlook these 'horrors'. Make sure you get someone to look over your contract before signing it, that you understand the bills and rent properly, and that the area you're moving to is safe.