2014 Times/Sunday Times Student Letting Agency of the Year.
Bill Free Homes offers award winning, superior quality housing, run on renewable sources of power. We are proud to offer luxurious student homes in the most convenient and sought after locations in Durham City. All of our properties are equipped with a full inventory comprising of a sofa(s), dining table, flat screen TV, artwork and soft furnishings in the communal areas. The bedrooms all have a bed, wardrobe, drawers, desk and desk chair. The kitchen has everything including; kettle, toaster, microave, cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils, pots and pans, laundry facilities, i.e. washer/dryer, iron and ironing board. There is also some cleaning equipment to help you keep your house in order throughout your stay; mop, bucket, brush, dustpan and vacuum cleaner. You really don't need to bring anything other than your personal items!
As well as award winning student accommodation and homes in Durham City; we have various partnerships throughout Durham City, resulting in fantastic offers being passed on to our tenants.
We pay the membership fee for all of our tenants to join Co Wheels Car Club. This means that tenants do not need to bring a car to Durham as they have access to one included in their rent!
We also have a partnership with Go Car Share who provide safe car sharing opportunities whilst travelling to Durham or whilst visiting the delights of the North East.
We provide a free bike for every tenant on request also (subject to good notice)! In association with Recyke-y-Bike we can provide a recycled, refurbished bike for your use for the year. We generally need 8 weeks notice to get the bikes ordered and refurbished but a bike can be waiting for you at your new house! We also suggest that if you do take up this scheme that you make a donation to recyke-y-bike's charity "Recycle to Africa" – so as well as getting a free bike, your helping a worthwhile cause!
As well as these amazing transportation partners, we have various partners within Durham such as the New Inn and Fabios, who allow us to pass exclusive offers on to our tenants (you can obviously opt out of receiving any offers).
In 2012 we joined forces with Uni Car Ads, to utilise their inovative marketing ideas but to also look at providing an income for those who may have brought cars to Durham. Check out their website for full details on how you can earn money while your car is parked!
We are a responsible student landlord, we recognise that you are eager to secure your home for next year but would caution you against rushing into agreements too early.
The number one rule is know your housemates! We don't want to have to get involved with substituting house mates a few weeks into your contract. Choose your housemates as wisely as you choose your house and you will not go far wrong. Seek the DSU's advice on when to start house hunting, first years in particular should wait until after Christmas before choosing a house - unless you are 100% sure on who you want to live with.
Safety is undoubtedly the top priority in any home. By law, all properties must have a current gas safety certificate (renewed annually); please ensure that you have seen this and are happy that it is up to date (ours are located in the hallway of every property - check it when you are on your viewing).
It is good practice for each property also to have an electrical safety certificate (renewed every five years). Again, check that the property you are looking at has one, and ask to see it. We insist that all of our properties display these as a matter of course. All of our houses now have Energy performance certificates also - this is a legal requirement from October 2008 - if your house does not have one - ask why!
We PAT test all portable electrical appliances this is not a legal requirement - we think that it should be.
It is always prudent to ask the current tenants about your prospective landlords - and to check with the University Accommodation Office. We have no worries about you asking our tenants about us!
Once you have moved in, check that you can open any windows that may be your escape route in the event of a fire.
Check that fire blankets and extinguishers are in place, and in working order.
Practice a fire drill and work out a strategy for safe evacuation. You will have a number of notices displayed prominently in the property containing safety information plus other details on what to do in event of problems.
Modern smoke and heat sensors are very sensitive and may annoyingly go off whilst cooking or burning toast! However, they are provided to save your life, which they cannot do if disconnected or baffled. Do not tamper with them or remove them they are there for your safety.
Ensure that the house is always locked when unattended, and try to maintain good relations with neighbours as they will then keep an eye on the house when you are away. 90 % of all complaints to all Universities are from disgruntled neighbours, none of whom were ever young, got a little merry on home brew or played football in the street. Your life will be so much easier if you get on with everyone around you … we know that sometimes this is difficult.
Of course you can, we accommodate lots of International students every year. We have teamed up with Housing Hand to ensure that if you cannot provide a UK guarantor then you can still get your rent guaranteed by Housing Hand.