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Student Guide To Renting

Moving out for university can be daunting. You have to learn how to fend for yourself, to cook and to clean. Figuring out life by yourself is stressful enough as it is! Throw paying bills, rent, deposits and budgeting your money on top of it, it can become overwhelming.

We put together this article to help you out when it comes to navigating the world of student renting. 

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Renting In Your First Year At Uni

First Year Halls of Residence

In your First Year at University you will most likely be offered student accommodation through the university, otherwise known as halls of residence. Halls of residence are mostly reserved for first year students, and are more often than not cheaper than other private types of accommodation.

They’re a great place to make new friends, and socialise with a wide group of people from all the other flats in the building. It’s also a great place to introduce yourself into the renting world, as you’ll likely get all your bills included in your rent!

You get a choice of different halls to choose from, and will need to apply through your Uni accommodation office. As everyone will be applying at the same time, make sure you apply early to give yourself the best chance of getting your first choice of accommodation.

If you don’t manage to get accommodation directly through your Uni, do not worry!! There will additionally be loads of privately owned halls of residence to choose from. National companies like Unite Students and Accommodation For Students are great companies to look into, as they have halls accommodations up and down the country, so you’ll likely find something for you in your university city.

Where To Find Student Accommodation

Your University Accommodation Office will everything you need to know about what types of halls are on offer. They will also help guide you through your halls of residence application process. If Uni halls aren’t quite right for you, they can put you in touch with private halls and let you know other places to check to find your new home. 

Things To Think About When Choosing Your Halls

You have enough to think about when you’re first moving to Uni. Luckily, your uni looks after organising all the options available into one place. The main thing to remember is you aren’t guaranteed a place in your first choice of accommodation, so make sure you’d be happy to live in any of your choices. When choosing the right place to you, have a think about:

  • Cost: Prices vary depending on location and what’s included, like utility bills and internet.
  • Location: Think about where your accommodation will be in relation to where your classes will be at which campus.
  • Facilities: Find out which type of halls facilities fit your lifestyle. Some might be catered where your food is included, some may be en-suite, some may have parking.

Renting In Your Second, Third or Later Years At Uni

Second, Third or Later Years Renting at Uni

In your second, third or later years at Uni, you’ll more often than not choose to rent a shared house or flat, where you get to choose exactly who you live with. While you’re completely in control of your independence, you will probably need to organise your utility bills yourself, unless you find a place with bills included. Renting can be a bit of a stressy one, so to give yourself the pick of the best places, start looking early. Leaving your house search till the last minute, might leave you with not much choice for a nice place to live.

If you’re in First Year looking for your Second Year house, make sure you settle into your new life at uni first before you jump into signing a contract for a house. Make friends on your course, join societies and get to know your future flatmates a bit better before you decide you want to live with them for another full year! You definitely do not want to be in the situation where you sign for a house in the beginning of the year and then realise that you do not get along as well as you did in the first couple of weeks.

While you can still apply for student accommodation, most halls tend to be mainly for first year freshers. If you do end up struggling to find a house, or you’ve decided against it, you can still look into private halls as an option. You’ll find a nice mix of students of all ages in these types of halls.

Where To Find A House or Flat

When searching for a house or flat to rent, Rightmove, Zoopla, and OnTheMarket will be your best friend. Make use of the search filters; organise by availability date, or by how many bedrooms you need, or whether bills are included. Also worth a check with local estate agents, or sites like Student Cribs and Uni Homes geared specifically for students to find their next home. If enjoy your own space consider finding yourself a studio flat or one bedder. 

For those of you struggling to find a flat or a house, check out SpareRoom or your University Accommodation Office to find people like yourself looking for new flatmates. 

Things To Think About When Choosing Your House or Flat

Renting a house or flat will give yourself a bit more to think about than your first year. It’ll be important for you to bare in mind:

  • Cost: Prices vary depending on location, but you also need to budget for utility bills, internet, TV license etc.
  • Location: Now you get to choose exactly where you’re going to live, think about whether you’d prefer to live in your town centre, or closer to your uni campus.
  • Facilities: When you visit the place before signing up, make sure you’re aware of the sorts of facilities are available to suit your needs, like parking or en-suite bathrooms.
  • Book a Viewing: Make sure you visit the property before signing any contracts or paying a deposit to make sure you know what you’re paying for. Photos can often be deceiving, and there are countless horror stories of people who have signed for a house before viewing it.

Deposit Protection

You need to make sure your deposit is in the Deposit Protection Scheme. Deposit protection was introduced by the Government for all assured shorthold tenancies, with an aim of protecting your deposit, and removing the opportunity of any scammy student landlords. Since the scheme was introduced, your landlord or letting agent will have a number of legal obligations that they need to fulfil to ensure your deposit is protected lawfully.

Landlords have 30 days from receiving your deposit to put it into a Deposit Protection Scheme, where it is safely stored during the time of your tenancy, just in case there is a dispute when you leave. If your landlord fails to do this, you could be entitled to up to four times the amount in return, but you’d have to go through the small claims court.


Student Renting 101

When looking for a house or flat, there are many things to consider. How many people do you want to live with, are your bills included, what’s the location like compared to the town centre or your uni campus.

Make Sure Your Landlord Is Legit: Use an accredited agent when you are looking for a house. Do some research into the agency or landlord that you might be dealing with, as you most certainly don’t want to get stuck with a scammer. Well known high street agencies will make stringent checks on landlords and will keep you safe as a renter.

Contracts: This probably sounds obvious, but check over your contract thoroughly before signing. You want to make sure there isn’t anything you’re uncomfortable with signing up to, or if there any suspicious looking costs.

Get A Viewing: View the place beforehand, as there have been some horror stories of students who have signed for a house, and moved into something that looks completely different.

Check Out Your Area: If you’re considering moving away form your campus, see if it’s an area lots of other students live. You should also look into the time and cost of your commute. Have a look at some flats in your city as you could probably find a flat for a reasonable price without the added travel costs. You’ll want to check out the local amenities, like the nearest supermarket for your weekly big shop. Any nice pubs, coffee shops and restaurants you can go to? Is the gym nearby? Can you park your car? All of these are things that you should factor in when you are thinking of moving.

Dealing With Landlords: Part of being a student is dealing with student landlords. Most area really nice, and getting on the good side of your landlord is perfect. If you look after the landlords place, they’ll look after you. If you find yourself having difficulties with a landlord that’s hard to deal with, it might be a test of patience, but be persistent. Make sure that they do what they are actually contracted to do. Most are lovely, and it’s in their own interest to fix your property.

Bills: If bills aren’t included, you’ll need to budget for this. Set aside a set amount of money to cover your bills. You can also find a place with bills included, which really helps you budget so you know exactly how much your monthly home will cost you. Some places don’t tend to include broadband, but don’t worry, there’s always a student deals to be had, visit our Student Broadband Comparison here.

Council Tax: As a university student you don’t have to worry about paying Council Tax, as you are exempt!. Make sure you get your exemption letter from your university to give to your landlord and the local council. Make sure you’re on the right exemption lists, otherwise you might get stumped with a bill, and things like this are always harder to deal with it in hindsight.

Documents: When signing for a house or flat, read your tenancy agreement properly thoroughly before you sign it. Make sure you know what you can and can’t do whilst living in the place. Make sure there’s no unexpected added extras and make sure everything adds up. Your landlord might need you to provide references and proof that you’re a current student. Having these ready ahead of time makes signing up to rent a place super easy.

Organise A Guarantor: A guarantor is a member of your family that can legally prove they will pay your rent if you start defaulting on payments. Normally it’ll just require some financial information from your parents to show their eligibility and affordability.

Deposit: A natural part of renting is stumping up the funds for a deposit. It sounds scary, but don’t worry, if you don’t trash the place, you’ll always get it back when you move out. Make sure your deposit is protected and secure with the Deposit Protection Scheme mentioned above.


Tips & Tricks for Student Living

We hope you feel more confident in making the right decision on your housing at uni. You know the ins and outs of renting as a student, what to prepare for, and what to think about. For more advice on life at Uni visit our Student Advice Hub.