Saturday, 8 September 2012

~ Mouse Trap? tick

In the post today (the post man in fact waking me up when I had a splitting headache) was a humane mouse trap Karen bought online yesterday because - as you will have already suspected - we have a mouse! Maybe multiple mice.  The "sightings" so far have included me seeing a medium sized very fluffy mouse run (SPRINT) from under Karen's suitcase in the living room to the behind the sofa. Karen caught the last part of this, getting her very panicked, and more so when hearing loads of scuffling under her bed last night. This morning I awoke to squeaking directly under my bed. I have actually found myself seeing (also usually holding) garden mice at least once a week - thank you darling cats - so they don't phase me so much! (Although city mice I'm sure are much more susceptible to diseases and suchlike) If I saw a rat in the flat, that would be a different issue entirely haha.
Evidence of my relationship with wild mice (aww)
But anyway, we are in a rented HMO flat which definitely does not allow non-paying residents! So we went out to buy chocolate for the trap tonight (I settled on Milk Chocolate with Fruit and Nuts) and we have put the trap in place beside where we think they are getting in in the kitchen.
The best option for a box trap like this is to position it close to a wall and have the entrances to the box near the wall. Mice are apparently suspicious and more likely to enter this way! Also, contrary to popular belief, they like chocolate more than cheese (As does Karen who gets to eat the rest of it)

Rachael xx
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Friday, 7 September 2012

"Medical Emergency Kit" mistake

So it's Rachael again. Yesterday I was in the flat all day waiting for our estate agent to come over..and in the end he did not. So I felt I'd been cooped up too long, and went the short walk to Boots to see if the new Cosmo is out. I should say it felt really weird walking around the area knowing I actually live there! Anyway October Cosmo was not out, but I found myself looking around Boots for a LONG time. I kept picking things up and thinking 'hey, this would be useful' then deciding 'no, student budget says no!'. But then I came across what I believed was a First Aid kit in the clearance sale for £2 which only cost me £1.80 because of my discount from Boots contact-lenses scheme! 
But apparently there is a MASSIVE difference between the words "Medical Emergency" and "First Aid" - I'm surprised I wasn't ID'd to get this considering how many sharp pointy objects it contained..
I displayed it on a scale from left to right: useful (the likes of antiseptic wipes, gloves and dressings) to not useful (a variety of sizes of syringe) to I really hope I never ever have to use that (Blood transfusion set, Scalp vein blood letting set, vast quantities of surgical needles) 
Lawl. I now know the difference! At least it didn't cost me the ends of the earth learning this lesson!

Rachael xx
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One thing which Rachael mentioned in one of her earlier posts was the fact that our mattresses were (to quote my mother) "completely knackered". She speaks the truth- Euan's mattress is fine but upon sitting on either Rachael and I's mattress, you would fall between the springs onto the bed frame below. So mummykins kicked up a fuss with the estate agents, who were initially refusing to replace them as they are indeed expensive, and we now have our new mattresses. In case you hadn't realised, my Mum can be a force to be reckoned with! 
The new mattresses arrive!
Rachael's new comfy bed

My bed

So we can finally sleep comfortably! 

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Rach's Bedroom Tour!

I am super happy right now because we moved in yesterday! Well, I completely moved in, Karen moved in around a third of her stuff, and Euan is in Gran Canaria haha. So I was the only one staying over last night (Pretty creepy being alone on your first night in a tenement block with all the creepy-ass noises) but I couldn't get to sleep until I had made everything look homely.
My strategy for moving in was to put all my belongings in Euan's room next door, and then slowly put everything in my room, in its proper place. So although I miss my best mate this made me pretty glad Euan wasn't moving in at the same time! I love unpacking. I completed my make-my-room perfect task at 2:15am. 
Sorry I took these on my phone so some aren't the best quality! But I love this room so so much!! My dad came and gave me the flowers yesterday! (After helping move in a lot of my stuff!) So happy. In my happy bubble. Ah.

Rachael xx
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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Little Guide to Problems Faced When Moving In

So you may or may not have realised that Monday had now passed - so are we all moved into the flat? No.

Here's why:
Little Guide to Problems Faced When Moving In

1. You turn up at the flat and the keys don't work
So this one affected us big time! Luckily, as there were three sets of keys, there were some amongst the bundle which let us in, allowing us to still get inside! Estate Agents want you to have working keys and locks, and as well as their own set of keys for the property are likely to have some spares - and will at the very least go to the key-cutters for you and pick up a new set. Just give them a buzz and ask nicely

2. It's like they never moved out..

On Monday we found the flat in a bit of a mess - with the previous tenants' broken belongings abandoned inside (bent airer anyone? how about a marketing textbook?) and quite frankly it had obviously not been cleaned during the transition of tenancy. This sparked some debate between us and our agents, but they were happy to send someone over the next day to check it out. In this scenario, politely demanding they get a professional cleaner is within your rights as a new tenant. It's not your job to clear up after the previous dwellers for a whole day, and you shouldn't spend your time or money cleaning mess that isn't even yours. 

3. The Inventory hadn't been checked
When you move into a rented property you will be required to fill in an inventory of the property (stating things like the condition of the walls, and the crockery provided in the lease). In our case there had been a mix up and the flat inventory hadn't been checked between the transition of tenancy. Either the previous tenants nicked the plates and cutlery or there had never been any! It's important to fill this in in proper detail - and communicate with your agents, to get anything broken fixed (within a certain limit - the cracking wallpaper, or stain on the carpet is not life-threatening or limiting your lifestyle in the property) and to make sure you are supplied with the correct goods

4. Sweet dreams..nuh-uh
You sit on the mattress. It flattens. All you can feel is the bed frame and a large metal spring. You don't even have to move to make a variety of oo-er noises escape the bed. Like crunching someone's spine..repeatedly. Well that's the impression we got from our mattresses! Asking your estate agents to replace big items like a mattress is a bit daunting - especially when it's three you want replaced.. But can you sleep on that for a year? Ask your parents' advice. You're not living in the lap of luxury, but you do have a right to a supportive mattress that won't keep you up all night with the sound of springs breaking every time you breathe. We don't know the outcome of this one yet, but fingers crossed. 

5. Electricity does what now?
Expecting to pay for electricity the traditional way, with a bill through the door every month, we were surprised to come into the flat and find a meter with a key stick. Had we paid better attention during our rushed viewing of the property and accelerated rental, we may have seen the meter attached to the wall - you can't say we weren't informed by the agents. This way of paying for electricity is by slotting in a key card or stick to the meter, having topped it up with money at a post office or newsagents, letting you watch the balance go down throughout the month. This can be helpful for students as its no scary surprise with the postman as to your bill, but the tariff is higher on this than the usual payment method. It has made us register the proximity of a post office to our flat though! 

How to complain to an Estate Agents
So, I feel this little tip goes hand in hand with the guide - you turn up, things are not as expected, and you freak out - bad option. Your estate agent is not your mum, they are there to provide support, help, a line of communication, and a level of care - however, being petty with them does not invite a good working relationship for the year ahead. 
Know your rights, but know your limits. You see things which disappoint you, fine. You can demand what you're due, but remember, you're moving into a rented student property - it's not going to be all shiny paint jobs and new everything. 
Don't be rude. Don't just stand and point at every second thing with a complaint about how it's not quite up to standard. You're human, they're human, you can live with it? good, then do so. 
Be friendly, show that you want to move towards solutions - suggest some, and take on their suggestions and comments. Remember to smile sometimes, kay?

The agents are hiring a handy man to clear up and fix the few broken things (I'd like the sink plug to go both in and out) and cleaners to give it a thorough once over. We may be moving in tomorrow afternoon! Hope so

Rachael xx
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Friday, 31 August 2012

Little Guide to Flat Hunting

We are fortunate enough to start off with one follower before we have even blogged yet (Thank you Charlotte) so hopefully at least one person is reading this already! 

I (Rachael) decided to write this post to fill the time whilst babysitting! And because Karen and I are moving into the flat on Monday, and we have yet to properly start our blog haha
Heh - one of the very few photos of us all together. On a night out. Don't worry, better pictures shall come!
Little Guide to Flat Hunting:

1. Find some flat mates
Luckily for me, I already had Euan wishing to share a flat with me. But in dire want of further flat mates, we spent several months searching for and asking potential people if they'd like to move in with us. Karen was our best choice, and although we had to wait a while for her to make the decision (It is a huge decision to move out of your parents home with all those added benefits like not having to do the washing..!) we are so glad we got her ;) 
We didn't want to advertise for a flat mate on an online student site - firstly, most of the people on there are post-grad students, so much older than us freshers, but secondly, we'd both find it rather weird moving in with a complete stranger. That's not to say it's a bad idea! Just not for us. On my uni freshers page I still am seeing people searching for flat mates - and Uni starts on the 8th! 
Try to do this in advance

2. Decide where abouts you'd like to live
Karen and I are going to the same uni, whilst Euan is going to another in the same city. So we decided we should go for somewhere quite central, with bus routes close by for Euan's uni. There will be flats out there in the places you're looking, so don't waste time searching in places which will cause one of your flat mates upset because its a bad situation for them.
Be thoughtful

3. Google search for HMO flats
Ah, that little issue: 'HMO'. This stands for 'House in Multiple Occupation'. This is an important phrase for any potential student flat co-renters, because it dictates which flats you can even try to rent. What it really means is a house occupied by three or more people not of a single family. What this means for you, is that if you're looking to move into a student flat with two or more people you need to look for HMO flats - it would be illegal to get one without an HMO. HMO flats just have goverment laid-down rules for the landlord to abide by, and it is in your interest! (Just very annoying when you find out about it after making a list of possible flats..) You can read more about it here

4. Start booking viewings
Due to us finalising our plans to co-rent quite late on in the summer before starting uni, we had to do this step very quickly. We had ten or so flats that we wanted to view, so I contacted each via the email address supplied on each of the pages. Now, some of these were estate agent emails, and some were private emails. But they all had one thing in common - no one ever replies!! I discovered this after a couple of days of waiting, and so then began a tirade of phone calls. Don't wait - these are busy people with probably an inbox full of similar messages about bookings (especially if you're contacting an estate agent) so be pro-active and phone up, or visit the agent. Even phoning can be stressful: One man refused to let me book in advance, asking me instead to email each morning to ask if he had any free times. Then began a ritual, where I'd email each morning, wait till midday, phone him (where he'd mention he'd read my email..) to then get told to email the next day. He eventually gave me an appointment after we'd put down the deposit for our flat. Muahaha. Too little, too late.
Do it! Quick and proactive

5. If you see one you want, get it
This step was absolutely key for us, as we ended up with only a small handful of appointments, with multiple other groups of potential renters turning up at each. Our flat was only the second one we viewed, (and the first Euan had viewed), but we liked it, it was 5 minutes walk from Karen and I's uni, beside a bus stop for Euan's, and on the third floor of the building (more light, less neighbours, city centre rats tend to be on lower floors..) So after the viewing, we sat down in a cafe and simultaniously decided to get it. We then immediately went to the estate agent to get forms, and then came in with the deposit at opening time the next day - Keen Beans! 
Be decisive

6. Talk to the Agents
We pushed through our commitment to rent the flat very quickly, before any of our parents had either seen the flat or talked to the estate agents. This then made the following couple of weeks quite confusing, as we found out new things about it, and got told conflicting information about the rent, signing the lease, etc. Make sure you're talking to someone who knows what they're talking about in the estate agents - we suffered from doing the opposite..and discovering this a couple weeks later. Get your parents involved - it may be your flat, but no doubt they're paying for it, and will know more about all the mumbo-jumbo the estate agents are telling you, than you will. Let the adults do the talking (but make sure you're listening!)
Get informed

7. Pay up
First you shall be asked for a sum of money as a deposit which you shall get paid back at the end of the lease period, if you haven't damaged the property during crazy (drunken) antics like those which feature on How I Met Your Mother (my favourite tv show btw). After this you will need to pay your first month's rent as well as agent fees before you sign the lease and move in! Make sure you know what you're paying
Get on top of it

8. Sign the Lease
This is quite an exciting part for the 18 and olders, because you get to sign (possibly your first) legal documents! You're actually meant to get your parent/guardian (the fancy word in this scenario being guarantor) if you are under 17. Euan didn't abide by this, yolo and all. This is quite a lengthy process as there is a lot to read in the lease! A tip is to ask the agent's to send it via email to your parents before lease-signing day so that they can pick up on any unusual things which you may skip over. And you will probably need to have one person sign the bottom of each page - if you volunteer for this, beware, there are hundreds of pages to sign! Also, you don't all need to sign on the same day - but you will only get keys if you have both signed the lease and payed your rent.
Clue up

Well as far as 'flat hunting' goes, you're there! Well done! This is the stage we are currently at, because we pick up the keys on Monday to move in! 3 days time - so much Erhmagerd. I seem to have an inability to pack. 

Rachael XX
(And Karen and Euan in spirit)

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