Fre­quent­ly Asked Questions

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’?

No.

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.

Your house

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
  • Wardrobe
  • 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

Mov­ing in

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?

No.

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?

No.

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?

Yes!

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.