Renting with us
When are the houses available?
In Cardiff, as in most major university cities, the annual student rush for accommodation for the next academic year typically starts in late October, extending into the new year.
Our houses, being the most sought-after, typically let in the earlier weeks of this period. It’s unusual for us to have more than a handful left by the start of the Christmas holidays, and in some years every house is taken by December.
How do we secure a house for next year?
It’s easy! Start by selecting an available property and booking a viewing via the online form. We will then meet you at our office and have a friendly chat to get to know you and discuss your requirements. We can advise you on your budget, talk about the best types of houses and locations for your group and show you a selection of houses.
Once you’ve decided on a house, let us know and we will draw up our straightforward, one page electronic contract. This can be signed at our office or remotely on any internet-connected device, which is great if one or more group members can’t make it (e.g. they’re on placement overseas).
How long is the contract for?
Like all reputable student housing providers, we let on full twelve month tenancies starting in July to the end June the following year.
This allows those with summertime placements, research projects, late/resit examinations or paid employment to live in their university city over the summer months. For most students, the independence of having‘their own place’ during the holidays is a vital part of their university experience.
What are the upfront costs?
There are none.
No deposits, no fees, and no guarantors. You just need a signature to secure a John Winter house.
What type of tenancy are the houses let on?
We let houses to established groups of friends for 12-month periods on joint Assured Shorthold Tenancies.
When are the rent payments due?
Rent is paid quarterly in July, October, January and April, with an option for monthly payments from July to September.
Most tenants find that quarterly payment is beneficial when budgeting their student loan, and we defer the three term-time rental payments until after the student loan payment date for that period.
What if I want/need to leave?
We’ll be sorry to see you go, but understand that sometimes groups don’t work out. We assist tenants to find a replacement for themselves in any way we can. The only thing we require is that the rest of your group are happy living with the new person.
If you’re having personal or financial difficulties our Lettings Manager is always on-hand to offer confidential advice; we often find an informal chat can resolve the problems and keep you in a house you love.
Can I stay for more than one year?
Absolutely! Groups typically stay with us for as long as their degree courses will allow. We have even had groups on longer courses stay for four or five years.
Groups staying on typically benefit from their rent remaining fixed, and are always given continuous or overlapping tenancies even if moving from one house to another. Many agencies will insist on a gap of a week or more between tenancies, which means transporting belongings home or paying costly storage fees.
Do you offer ‘bills included’?
‘Bills included’ sounds attractive but is always a bad deal for tenants. In practice it means either unreasonably low usage caps with high excess charges, or grossly inflated rent so the landlord isn’t out of pocket if you leave the heating on.
When renting with us you are free to choose any utility supplier you like. As standard we will set you up with the cheapest reputable mainstream utility suppliers, however we do not make any commission of profit from this. Our only goal is to get you the best tariff.
We are also available to help you resolve disputes with utility companies and will close the contracts for you at the end of the tenancy.
We would typically suggest allowing for £50 per month to cover water, electricity, gas and internet.
Are the houses safe and secure?
Safety and security are our top priority:
- High-security exterior door locks with unique, restricted-profile keys which cannot be copied by commercial locksmiths. Our doors are the safest front doors in Cardiff!
- All houses have been intentionally acquired in locations that are known to be safe, well-lit at night, and give direct access to university, town and local shops without having to take unsafe routes.
- All of our houses are licensed with Cardiff Council where required under their HMO licensing scheme, with all of our lettings team being trained and accredited by Rent Smart Wales.
- Hard-wired, interlinked smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detection systems in every house.
- Very few houses have rear lane access. The few which back on to gated alleys have additional security measures in place.
- Rear gardens are enclosed. Many of our houses are clustered together in consecutive runs or back-to-back blocks all owned by us. All your neighbours could be John Winter tenants too!
- Windows are all recently-upgraded uPVC or aluminium double-glazed with secure locking mechanisms, locked ventilation settings and restrictors where required. Many also function as ‘tilt-and-turn’ fire escape windows according to fire risk assessment.
- Annual gas safety certification is carried out by our Gas Safe-registered engineer, and up-to-date electrical certification is performed by our NICEIC-registered electrical contractor.
Are the houses modern?
All houses are refurbished to a contemporary style, with modern kitchens, bathrooms, furniture and appliances. Many have been upgraded to exceptionally stylish finishes not normally found in student accommodation — many tenants say their house in Cardiff is better than home (sorry, Mum & Dad!).
We routinely redecorate all walls for the start of each tenancy, redecorate any ceilings and woodwork as required and maintain a rolling programme of upgrades to carpets, furniture, fitted kitchens and bathroom suites.
Are the houses well-maintained?
Our reactive maintenance is second-to-none — we proactively encourage maintenance reports from tenants and the vast majority of ordinary maintenance tasks are completed within hours. For more complex problems our specialist contractors normally resolve the issue within 24 hours and we have established contingency measures in place for the rarer, more difficult issues. For example, we have a stock of spare appliances ready to deploy should yours develop a fault.
We also operate a year-round programme of preventative maintenance, ranging from checks on such things as boiler pressures, locks and lightbulbs, to inspecting roofing, guttering, drainage and exterior brickwork. Exterior paintwork is automatically refreshed on a rolling programme. Our busy team are always out looking for things to be repaired, updated and renewed!
Do the houses include a garden, and who is responsible for its upkeep?
All houses have a good-sized back garden, maintained at no added cost by our professional gardening team who visit least twice monthly. Many houses also have front gardens and internal courtyards, which to bring in natural light and provide secure spaces for bicycles and refuse bins.
All gardens have washing lines, as an eco-friendly alternative to the tumble dryers fitted in every house (should the Cardiff weather permit).
Am I allowed to stick things on my walls?
We encourage all tenants to make their house feel like home. To help with this, we uniquely offer a free-of-charge wall fixings service. Our maintenance team will put up any picture hooks, noticeboards, mirrors and even TV brackets that you may have. We’ll also accommodate most requests to remove items of our furniture to storage, for instance, should you want your own desk or chair.
What comes with the house and what will I need to buy?
All houses are furnished to the following minimum specification:
- All large electrical appliances — fridge/freezer (mainly American-style), electric oven, gas hob, dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer.
- Top-quality sofas in Italian leather or mixed leather/fabric to seat all housemates
- Dining table and chairs, or breakfast bar and stools
- Modern double bed frame with top-quality memory-foam mattress
- Study desk with chair
- Shelving for course books and folders
- Blackout blinds at all windows
- Curtain poles
We also provide all houses which don’t have Council wheelie bins with heavy-duty gull-proof sacks for storing general waste and recycling bags between collections.
Most students acquire other necessary items from home (ask parents to check their loft or garage for things they no longer want). Other groups often purchase the other essentials jointly to spread the cost. You will need to provide any small electrical appliances you may need (kettle, toaster, iron, vacuum) in addition to your crockery, cutlery and kitchenware, bed linens and towels. We would also recommend a 2/3‑section bin for the kitchen which allows for segregation of recycling and general waste.
A full list of recommended items is provided in our Handbook and in the pre-move in advice given to all new tenants.
Living with us
All tenancies start on July 3rd, when you’ll be able to collect your keys from our office. Your house will have undergone a full professional clean, including high-temperature carpet cleaning.
Uniquely, we offer all tenants the chance to visit the house in advance of your new tenancy starting. We typically meet groups in May at the property to help you prepare for moving in. Aside from refreshing your memory on the house, you’ll be able to plan how you’ll make the house your own, as well as being able to chat about any planned works and refurbishments which may be planned at the house during the summer.
We can also advise you how to plan a successful, organised move-in so you can enjoy the house fully from day one.
Who will we deal with during our tenancy?
Our dedicated team has three core members, working full time to respond promptly to any request:
- Our Lettings Manager (Rich) and Lettings Assistant (Izzy) manage all day-to-day contact
- Our Maintenance Manager (Ollie) is contactable directly to resolve any maintenance issue by either fixing it himself or arranging a specialist contractor
How do we get in contact with them?
Our team is based at our office on Woodville Road, in the heart of the main student area. We’re open to call up or call in every weekday, most weekends and often keep late hours in line with our tenants! You can drop in to discuss matters in passing or even collect extra rolls of Council recycling bags.
When you sign up you will be given the team’s personal phone numbers and email addresses. We will also set up a Facebook Messenger Group Chat, to allow round the clock communication between yourselves and our team.
Do I have to pay Council Tax?
All undergraduate students on full-time courses are exempt from paying Council Tax, and we have a special arrangement with Cardiff Council to directly register you as exempt. A small number of vocational courses involving paid work may not be exempt, but your course administrator can give clarification.
How do the bills work? How much are they?
We do not include utility bills in the rent. We would typically suggest budgeting approximately £50 per person per month to cover internet, water, electricity and gas bills.
Many students find the marketing efforts of ‘bills-splitting’ and ‘all-inclusive’ bills package companies quite attractive, and often initially look for houses advertised as ‘bills-included’.
Such offers never represent good value for money. Even packages advertised as ‘unlimited’ have unreasonably low usage caps and very high excess charges. These are usually third-party products resold to the tenant, with big commission built-in to make the package profitable for the parties arranging the deal.
Where bills are included by a landlord in the rent, the price is calibrated to allow for grossly wasteful usage so the landlord isn’t out-of-pocket. Any reasonable ‘bills-inclusive’ rent is a clear indication of a much lower-grade property than it might otherwise appear.
When renting with us you are free to choose any utility supplier you like, and as standard we will set you up with the cheapest reputable mainstream energy supplier as well as Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru). We do not make any commission or profit on this, and our only goal to to get you the tariff with the best balance of unit price and standing charge for students. We are approved to help you resolve any disputes with either water or energy companies and will also close the contracts for you at the end of the tenancy.
How does the internet work?
All houses are supplied with an incoming 350Mb/s super-fast fibre-optic broadband supply, providing the fastest and most reliable internet service for students in Cardiff.
We have also recently completed the full rollout of in-house hard-wired access points in order to guarantee a signal and fast speeds across every room in our houses, allowing for unlimited streaming or gaming without slowdown or buffering.
Wifi signal is typically poor very hard to achieve around student houses due to the property construction and their size, however our unique infrastructure allows for a large number of devices to be connected, and is even sufficient for 14 people in the house to be streaming simultaneously in Ultra HD / 4K!
The broadband is charged at a discounted rate of £30 per house per month with no additional set-up fees and no download restrictions.
The package normally costs £55 per month however if purchased through us we can supply this package at this highly-discounted rate. If you would however prefer to choose a different supplier for any reason, you are free to do so.
Can I bring a pet?
As with most matters in a shared house we are normally happy for small pets to be kept, provided:
- All housemates are happy with the arrangement
- The person responsible for the animal ensure it is well cared-for, kept contained, and cleans up after it
- The welfare of the pet is assured
- The type of pet is appropriate for a shared house and normal student lifestyle
We would not normally consider cats or dogs appropriate – our typical pets would be fish in tanks, hamsters and gerbils, but we have, over the years, had various lizards, snakes, and even a tarantula named Kevin!
Do we need to clean the house when I leave?
We arrange a professional clean between every tenancy at no added cost.
We do ask you for a minimum level of cleanliness, but otherwise departing from your John Winter house couldn’t be easier – simply return your key, say goodbye, and off you go!
The minimum standard is a short list intended to avoid health and safety issues and make the work of our professional cleaners easier:
- Remove all belongings
- Ensure all refuse is collected or removed from the property
- Leave the oven to a normal domestically-cleaned standard
- Defrost the fridge/freezer ready for cleaning
Can I keep a car in Cardiff?
A car normally isn’t necessary for getting around as almost all our houses are under 20 minutes’ walk of anywhere you’d need to go. It is possible however to keep one or more vehicles.
Cardiff Council will grant two Residents’ Parking Permits per household and one Visitor Permit. These are priced at £7.50 for the first permit and £30 each for further permits. A permit lasts for 12 months and shorter durations are available with pro-rata pricing.
For temporary parking — e.g. for moving in/out — all streets have some limited unrestricted parking. Some houses are also situated on streets where there are no restrictions to parking. Please check with our team in the run-up to your tenancy.
Any other questions?
Feel free to contact us — we’re available on the phone, by email, through social media, or arrange to meet us at our office where we can talk you through everything.