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Green InitiativetestimonialsLocal Essex Services
"Alphalets have been easy to communicate with"
Tenant, University of Essex
"Very pleasant staff"
JM, Tenant
"Good service from thoroughly nice people, as good as it gets"
CD, Tenant
"Always personal, always attentive - quality and value in a great small firm. I recommend Alphalets to any landlord"
WR, Landlord
"I am particularly pleased with Alphalets; the friendliness of the staff as well as the quality of the tenants. Good service and my preferred agency"
CS, Landlord
"It was good to deal with somebody that didn't fit the depressing stereotype of a letting agent"
CT, Tenant
"The most accommodating letting agency I've dealt with. Fast, efficient and reliable, you delivered the service you promised and more. I'd recommend you to anyone"
SL, Tenant
"Alphalets provide a professional and efficient service whilst maintaining a personal and friendly approach. They let my flat very quickly and have given invaluable property management advice"
RW, Landlord
"I enjoy dealing with Ed and Julie"
MG, Landlord
"Keep up the good work"
Landlord
"Efficient, quick, informative service and communication"
AD, Tenant
RightmoveThe Property Ombudsman
Letting agent and properties to let in Colchester, Essex

Students


Essex University
Welcome to Alphalets’ guide to renting private sector accommodation! I graduated from the University of Essex in 2007, and understand that looking for digs can prove to be something of a minefield. Which parts of town are safest? What furnishings should I consider important? Is having ‘bills included’ practical, or expensive?

Alphalets is here to help you find a property that is best suited to your needs, to ensure your new home meets your expectations, and to ensure you are well accommodated to allow you to continue your studies in comfort and security.

Ask us about:

Viewings

How many places should I see?
It’s worth booking viewings for a good number of properties which match your search criteria, to give you a good idea of what’s out there, and to get a good idea of which properties represent good value for money.

Alphalets will endeavour to show you as many places as we can which match your search parameters to ensure you are able to make an intelligent, informed decision.

Which furnishings should be included?
Look out for places which you can just ‘move straight into’. You should expect a clean bed in each bedroom, with good storage, a desk, a desk chair, and a lamp for those late-night essay-writing sessions! A kitchen should have a ‘full set’ of Portable Appliance Tested white appliances (fridge, freezer, cooker, hob, washing machine, at the very least), and enough for the number of tenants residing at the property. A dining table and chairs, vacuum cleaner, iron and ironing board, sofa, and TV are useful too!

Essex University
Is there anything else I should look out for?
Keep a close eye on the general condition of the interior and exterior (including garden). This will give you a good idea as to how your landlord looks after his property, how willing they will be to help when any maintenance issues arise, and how they expect you to care for your home. A good first impression is very important, but you should substantiate these by asking as many questions as you can!

You can print out OUR VIEWING CHECKLIST by clicking HERE.

Are valid Gas Safety and Energy Performance Certificates visible?
A landlord must not advertise a property for rent without either of these, and you should ask to see them before making a firm commitment.

Local Area

How far is it to campus, shops, town or pubs?
It’s worth looking at property within easy reach of the University or College; and remember to take walking distance into account, even if you and your housemates have a car. Colchester in particular is well served by a comprehensive public transport network; so even if you are a good distance from Uni, there’s a bus or a train you can catch.

Am I close to my friends or course mates?
Living close to people you already know is important too. You can share lifts, walk to and from campus as part of a group, and hang out together when you get some free time!

Council Tax

Essex University
Do I need to pay?
Individuals in full time education qualify for council tax exemption, and this will also apply to a household exclusively comprised of student occupants.

What do I need to do?
You need to demonstrate your status as a full-time academic to your Borough Council, who will share advice over the phone. The University should be able to issue a Council Tax exemption Certificate to all registered full-time students.

TV License

Do I need one?
Yes, one per household if you want to watch TV! See http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/ for further details on how to apply.

Utility Bills

Who are my Gas and Electricity suppliers?
You should be able to check with your landlord, but in the event that you want to confirm these details; check with EDF (Electricity) and Transco (Gas) Supply enquiry hotlines on:

EDF
0845 601 5467
Transco
0845 605 6677
 

They’ll also help you contact your supplier, who will instruct you to set up a new account where applicable.

This will not apply where your landlord pays your utility bills on your behalf.

Do I pay the bills?
Some landlords will include bills with your monthly rent. This can be useful, but paying your own bills and encouraging you to be economical with respect to domestic energy use can prove a more cost effective and environmentally sound approach; even if it means organising yourselves to pay your suppliers when instructed.

What do I need to do to reduce these costs?
Alphalets are always available to help you think about ways in which you can reduce your outgoings where utilities are concerned. We are happy to recommend the Energy Saving Trust (link) who offer a wealth of resources for tenants, and will also help you encourage your landlord to work with you.

We all have a responsibility to look after our environment, and we encourage you to make a contribution wherever you can.

See our GREEN section for more details.

Contents Insurance

Are my belongings protected?
Let Alliance
All tenancies are granted for the tenancy of the property to the named Tenant upon the condition that the Tenant holds insurance that covers accidental damage to the Landlord’s contents, furniture, fixtures and fittings.

The Tenant must provide the Landlord or their Agent with a copy of their current insurance certificate prior to the commencement of the tenancy detailing the cover held, the name and address of the Insurer, the policy number and the date of renewal.

Please click on the link on the right if you are interested in receiving a quote.

Security

What do I look for?
All doors and windows should be secure, regardless of whether these are ground floor, first floor, or higher, all should lock and unlock at your discretion. You should be provided with a key for each. Some student property includes locks on bedroom doors too.

A burglar alarm is an excellent idea, as are timed switches on lamps.

How do I get back home ‘after hours’?
Make sure you know how you’re getting home before setting off on a late night (in the library…….). Colchester in particular is well serviced by good public transport and local taxi firms.

You’ll soon learn which your preferred company is. Look out for value for money, punctuality, and reliability.

Essex University Student’s Union run a late security bus too, taking you close to your door after a late night on campus.

Deposit Protection

Essex University
How do I know my deposit is safe?
The Housing Act 2004 describes that all tenancy deposits must be protected by a regulated scheme. Your landlord MUST protect your deposit by law, and in accordance with The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007, issue all relevant information to the tenant relating to the deposit assigned to this tenancy.

Alphalets subscribe to the Deposit Protection Service, who can be found online at https://www.depositprotection.com. In the event that we manage your property, your deposit will be protected here.

Tenancy

How long do I need to commit to?
You need to ensure that your tenancy agreement ends after the end of the academic year! Most tenancies will be for 12 months, and some might include a 6 month ‘break clause’ (bringing the termination of the tenancy forward) at yours or your landlord’s discretion. Both parties will have to agree to the length of the tenancy, and this information is to be found in your tenancy agreement.

Can I stay on next year too?
You will need to check with your landlord. Normally, as long as you pay your rent on time, and you look after your property, your landlord will be more than happy to retain you for an additional term. It’s worth cultivating a good working relationship with your landlord in order to build a good case for your renewal!