ambass

Where?

Nottingham & Exeter

 

Who can apply?

Students studying in Nottingham & Exeter

 

Overview:

Who wants to give money to advertising companies? Not us. We figure that the people who could benefit most from money are you guys. Whether you’re already completely perfect and live in a SweetSpot home or out there in the world of far inferior houses not made by us, we invite you to join us in helping students make the right choice and move in with SweetSpot.

 

Pay:

£200 one off payments for every house let – we have 26 homes in Nottingham and 15 in Exeter

 

How the referral process works when letting a home:

It’s a simple process:

1. Refer a student to SweetSpot – they need to put your name in brackets after their surname on the online booking form
2. They visit a house and decide they want it
3. When they sign the contract we’ll send you £200

It’s as easy as that! There’s no limit to the number of houses you can refer to us. So if you let say 10 houses in Nottingham that would be £2,000.

 

About SweetSpot:

SweetSpot started with a simple thought: students deserve better places to live. The idea was to create houses for friends to learn how to make a home together, in places for 4 to 7 people, because long corridors and anonymous doors don’t make for good communities. Read more here 

 

Apply Now:

To be part of this you need to get in touch with us (just so we can confirm everything). Please email us at hello@sweetspot.com

 

 

 

About Me

What course are you on? What do you like about it?

Studying BSc Geography (now in my Second Year) at the University of Nottingham. I love the fact that the course is so diverse and I get to jolly about in other countries if I want and just say that I’m studying for my degree, learning about new cultures; or I can just stay at home and learn about the diverse geography of our own tiny little island.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Nottingham?

I love being able to travel to other cities with great ease but the Boilermaker cocktail bar and Crisis at Rock City are pretty awesome too. But sometimes you just can’t beat staying in and watching a good movie on the TV at home with a huge bag of popcorn and your housemates.

What the best kept secret on your campus?

The ERC (Edwards Resource Centre) in the Sir Clive Granger (Geography) building. It’s so quiet and out of the way that it makes the perfect place to get work done without getting too stressed – perfect for Geographers (it is a map room after all).

What advice would you give people wanting to move to Nottingham to study?

Definitely come to Nottingham – it doesn’t matter whether you’re moving from far away or an hour down the road, it’s such a lovely city with friendly people and lots to do. The University is amazing with such a beautiful campus, you won’t regret studying at such a brilliant university. Live on campus in your first year and really think about who you want to live with and what you’re willing to pay in your second year for a house. It’s much better than staying in halls again – you feel more grown up and independent, plus you get your own space. And don’t be afraid to pay a bit extra for your house if you do, because it will be SO worth it!

Finding the right home

How did you find your flatmates for your new home? How did you decide to move in together?

We searched online and found some nice looking houses within our budget and then contacted the representatives of the companies. I think we searched on Unipol, Rightmove Students and the SweetSpot website itself. We decided to live together because we were friends in halls and therefore thought it would be a great idea.

When did you sign up to move in? Did you leave it till the last minute?

We signed up to our contract in January and then officially signed in Febrary/March I think. I’m not entirely sure. We definitely didn’t leave it until the last minute, however I think we were slightly panicking that there wouldn’t be any houses left in January as lots of people had already signed for their houses in both Nottingham and many other cities where our friends from home go to university.

How was your flat/house hunting experience? What would you do differently (if anything) next time?

House hunting was a bit stressful, but I think that was because we panicked a bit, I think if we had done it again we may have looked around a bit and talked things through better, however ultimately I feel even if we had done that we would still have gone for the awesome house which we are in now.

It can be a stress finding the right home, what made you choose this one?

We chose this one because our local rep Gwen really sold us on the refurbishment of the property and how it was ultimately going to look in the end. We are in a recently purchased house so when we looked around and signed for it, it was completely different to how it is now, therefore we took a bit of a gamble but we always knew it was going to look great because of the other houses that we have seen on the site. The current students living there were really pleased with the house and the broadband and TV license included in the rent was an added bonus that sold it to us.

What’s your favourite thing about your new home? Why?

The favourite thing about our new home has to be the living room. There wasn’t one in the house previously. The whole communal living area is now great with us all being able to socialise in the lounge/kitchen/dining room area. Its really makes the difference being able to socialise in a way that you’re just not able to do when living in communal catered halls on University Park Campus.

 

About you

What course are you on? What do you like about it?

Business Management and Psychology at Exeter. As I am on a flexible combined honours course I got a lot of choice about the modules I take. I really enjoy applying my knowledge of how people work and behave to my understanding of businesses.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Exeter?

Go to The Old Firehouse pizzeria or go to the cinema with my friends.

What the best kept secret on your campus?

I love the sanctuary on campus, it’s so quiet in there – lovely to study (and you can eat!) or the new study space upstairs in Devonshire house called The Loft – hardly anyone knows about it yet so it’s perfect.

What advice would you give people wanting to move to Exeter to study?

It’s such a diverse place. It’s not just partying and sports teams, there is cultural beauty, SHOPPING, and even museums and 
 
beautiful libraries – there really is something for everyone. Only issue is the hills! Way too many hills – layering is an important fashion skill.

Laura's Room

Laura’s Room

Finding the right home:

How did you find your flatmates for your new home? How did you decide to move in together?

We all lived together in our uni allocated flat in first year and decided it would be easy and fun to stay together.

When did you sign up to move in? Did you leave it till the last minute?

We signed up pretty early, maybe November. We paid our deposit and signed contracts in early January.

How was your flat/house hunting experience? What would you do differently (if anything) next time?

It was so difficult purely because we hadn’t decided EXACTLY what we wanted / location. Once you have a list of things you want it’s a lot easier to find and evaluate properties. Next time, I would also think carefully about the cost of where you are living – compared to other similar or close places.

It can be a stress finding the right home, what made you choose this one?

We liked the location and the condition of the house was excellent – far better than any of the other houses we had seen.

What’s your favourite thing about your new home? Why?

Having a living room area probably! So nice to all sit around the TV on weekends and watch terrible television.

SweetSpot grew this summer, but with growth comes challenges. Our resident interior designer Hannah Collins had to work day and night to transform the old unloved buildings into homes suitable for our new tenants. We caught up with her now everyone has moved in, to ask her about why she made certain choices and her thought process when designing under pressure.

How many houses did you refurbish this summer?

We refurbished sixteen houses, averaging six bedrooms each in Nottingham and five houses in Exeter. That’s nearly 130 bedrooms in total – and we did this in six weeks!

What’s the most important thing to you about refurbishing a home?

That’s a tricky question. First and foremost, the most important consideration when refurbishing any property is to carefully consider the budget and the client’s expectations. If both these are managed correctly, then nobody will be disappointed.
Secondly, I have to focus on the brief. I need to think about why we’re doing this, who we’re doing this for and what we need to achieve out of it.

Our clients are students and they are the most important consideration in planning and designing each room. Of course, I would love to run away with my ideas most of the time but I am constantly having to pull myself back as practicality is of the utmost importance when designing any student home and surprisingly design and practicality tend to contradict each other. The challenge is achieving a happy middle road between stylish contemporary design and comfortable living on a competitive budget.

Hannah fitting the blinds

Hannah fitting the blinds

What’s the most stressful thing about doing a big scale refurb like this?

Managing everyone’s expectations. On a project of this scale, in such a short space of time, we could not achieve anything if we all didn’t work as a team. I know it might sound clichéd but there were so many different people involved that project management was of the utmost importance. It was critical that one job was completed before another could get started. For example, after every wall had been prepared and decorated, the carpets had to be laid. Until this happened, the furniture couldn’t be delivered and therefore the rooms couldn’t be made up. It was an extremely fast paced and finely tuned process by the end. We were turning houses around in three days in the last two weeks. It was an organised chaos. We had a great team behind us and overall everything went very smoothly considering the pressures we were all up against.

Carefully chosen art

Carefully chosen art

What’s the best thing?

The end goal! After the houses have been professionally cleaned and they’re all shiny and new, I love the styling process and the final stages working closely with the photographers to achieve the finished look. It’s all in the detail.
It’s such a super feeling of achievement when we put that over-worked dusty old kettle on for the very last time to make a cup of tea and everyone sits down and takes a step back to see what we’ve all created: from a tired unloved building to a sparkling stylish and comfortable new home. That’s the best thing.

What’s your thought process when it comes to designing for a new home?

Making an impact. That doesn’t have to mean a radical makeover but it does mean doing something to make a difference. I place a huge importance on colour and the effect colour has on a room and how it makes one feel. Of course, it goes without saying that a beautiful view and natural sunlight is one of the crucial elements of careful contemplation when designing any room. In a bedroom for example, ideally I will design a room around its natural features. It’s always a luxury to look out of a window from bed and to have a window to look out of while studying at your desk. Because space is at a premium I will always do my best to focus on the comfort of sleeping and study. Secondary to this, is storage. We all know how important storage is.

When designing any room I always try and imagine myself in that room. Is it somewhere where I’d like to be? Most importantly, the bedroom needs to feel secure and comfortable.

How should a home make you feel?

Somewhere you look forward to coming home to. Our homes are who we are.

A home should offer a sense of identity. Somewhere we can call our own and shut the door away from the stresses of everyday life and relax in our own private space, share with friends and enjoy in company. Your home should be welcoming and comfortable, safe and warm.

lounge space with comfy sofa

lounge space with comfy sofa

Why do you think so many student properties are sub-standard?

Because not everyone places as much importance on student accommodation as we do. We care about our students and want to offer them a luxury standard of living whilst they’re at university. We know what a positive impact our SweetSpot homes will have on our students and therefore place a huge amount of importance on this. We also feel that for many students a SweetSpot move will be their first move away from the security and all that they know of their home environment. We want to make their ‘flying the nest’ not only a positive one but a move that they’ll always remember as it’s such an important transition in a student’s life.

The moody purple room

The moody purple room

The rooms this year are almost colour-coded; red rooms, blue rooms, purple rooms, what was your thinking behind that?

I wanted to give each room an identity so I did this by expressing colour in punchy bursts of moody blues, earthy greens and tonal reds on statement walls in every bedroom. I wanted to highlight and define the space for study. As a team we all thought this was very important. I chose a versatile and universal palette of bold colours. I then coordinated the window blinds and the desk task lamps accordingly to tie in with the chosen colour scheme. To complete the space with designed a bright white beautifully bespoke clean-lined sharp Corian desk worktop. Therefore every room was defined by a different accent colour and this created a focal point and identity to each bedroom.

What makes the homes you design special?

I enjoy the aesthetic of beautifully worked clean lines. For example, every piece of furniture has to be thought out and it’s critical that a work of art is placed and hanged correctly. This artwork then has to work perfectly together with perhaps a mirror that has to be placed thoughtfully so it emphasises its best use of the light or refection from the window. Positioning and scale are incredibly important when designing a room.

It’s always very difficult to design any space with a limited budget but I’m very good at sniffing out my one-of-a-kind finds and special treasures. I have a keen eye for colour and detail and simply adore unique pieces and original artwork and uniting them all together. I have put some exquisite wall art in to our SweetSpot houses over the years. I find heritage pieces here, there, and everywhere and enjoy the history and authenticity. I love colour and I love statement. I will always shy away from mainstream mass production or ephemeral fashion trends. I feel the art of great design is keeping it classically simple but thoughtful. I can always spice a room up with a twist of colour and intrigue after all.

Whether you’re a student or not, getting your deposit back is a daunting, annoying and often stressful experience. Over 2011-12 less than 70% of deposits were returned in full across the UK and just over 13% got nothing back. The average amount taken off was a whole month’s rent – a staggering fee in some cases.

When you’re a student, these statistics get worse for a couple of reasons: landlords can view you as naive or unaware of the laws which are set out to protect you or because you have no expectation of getting your money back so why bother trying.

The facts about your deposit:

It is illegal for a landlord or agency to hold your money without registering it into a tenancy protection scheme regardless of who they are. This means that your money is held by an external and regulated body who are compelled by law to protect it: your landlord can’t spend it or touch it during your tenancy.

You are entitled to receive your deposit within ten working days of your ‘check out inspection’. This inspection works in accordance to your ‘check-in’ inventory which should occur at an agreed time when you move in. Make sure you get a copy of this for your records: if there is no ‘check-in’ inventory then the landlord cannot legally take anything from your deposit.

Most common reasons to lose your deposit:

1. Inadequate Cleaning: no one expects you or your flatmates to be professional cleaners, but you must make the effort to do a ‘deep clean’. Commonly missed areas include ovens, grills, fridges, washing machine filters and gardens. Pop some music on and spend a day getting down and dirty – it’s worth it. Cleaning bills can cost anything up to £1000 depending on the state of your property. You’d be surprised how much it costs to get someone in just to do the basics, the usual bill for a property that has just ‘missed’ a couple of things is a minimum of £200.

2. People leave on different days: This is something we’ve heard a lot from our tenants. It’s an unavoidable issue when you share a home with people on different courses with different end dates. Often, people will leave one by one until you’re the last person in the house faced with a massive pile of cleaning to do – nobody wants to do that after exams finish. The best thing to do in this situation is get a calendar together and mark when people leave – pick a day when you are all there together before the first person leaves and give the whole place (including your bedrooms) a deep clean (it’s better to have your leaving parties before this date obviously). That way, even if you are the last person standing it should only require a much quicker and easier once over before you go.

3. Wear & Tear: What does that mean? At SweetSpot we’ve rarely had to take money off for this, however it’s the area where a lot of landlords are flexible with the truth but luckily, thanks to regulating bodies, it’s getting harder to bend facts. If you’ve been sharing a house with five other people for a year or so it’s likely that there will be superficial wear on the property; a mark or two here and there from furniture and other things. This is fair. You are allowed to live in your home and enjoy it – no one wants to walk on eggshells 24/7, after all you’re paying for it. If your landlord tries to take money from you for this and you feel it’s unfair stand up for your rights and contest it. Going to your Student Union is a good place to start – they can tell you what to do.

4. Missing Items: Some items can cost a lot to replace, the odd throw / picture frame might be £10 but this soon adds up if everyone in your house takes something you could be looking at another £200 or so coming off your deposit. Leave it where it is. At SweetSpot we take care to make your homes special with antiques and one-off objects which can be pricey, we’re more than happy to tell you where we got them from though so you can get your own.

We help our tenants as much as we can: we share charge-sheets on inspections and our students are free to speak to the Sweeteners (people who live locally to our properties and help out when there’s any problem) about what they can do to make sure the property is ready for inspections. We even share the cost of the independent inventory checks with our tenants so they don’t pay the full bill.  We only charge what we spend – we never round-up.

We want everyone to get their full deposits back – let’s work together so we can change the statistics and show the world that students can clean…

 

Why?

Who wants to give money to PR companies? Not us. We figure that the people who could benefit most from £200 cash are you guys. Whether you’re already completely perfect and live in a SweetSpot home or out there in the world of far inferior houses not made by us, we invite you to take part.

About SweetSpot:

SweetSpot started with a simple thought: students deserve better places to live. The idea was to create houses for friends to learn how to make a home together, because long corridors and anonymous doors don’t make for good communities.

What do I do?

It’s a simple process:

1. Refer a friend
2. They visit a house and decide they want it
3. When they put their holding deposit down get them to refer your name

It’s as easy as that – once your friend takes a home with us, they will pass on your details and we’ll send you £200 to do with as you please, you can even split it with them if you fancy.

Promote our homes on twitter, facebook and to your friends.

Maths:

Not our favourite subject but here goes: if you promote, yell about and spread the word enough to rent out, say 5 of our properties, you’ll get £1000 in your pocket!

Questions:

Ping us on twitter or facebook or email ana@sweetspot.com