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Student lettings

This only applies in England and Wales.

Going to university often means living away from home. Whether you decide to live on your own in a private rented property or with other students in a university hall of residence, make sure you understand the housing issues involved when deciding which accommodation to choose.

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Many students rent accommodation from a private landlord. Depending on the type of tenancy you have, your rights and responsibilities will be different.

Assured shorthold tenancy

If the accommodation is self-contained, ie if the landlord does not live in the property, you are most likely to have an assured shorthold tenancy, that can be for short term or long term.

Under a shorthold tenancy agreement, tenants are entitled to several rights as regards safety, property repairs or eviction. For more information about your rights as an assured shorthold tenant, see Tenants rights.

Many students choose to share accommodation with other students. Various types of tenancy arrangements can exist, including:

  • Joint tenancy: all students sign a single tenancy agreement, have equal rights and responsibilities in the property and pay an individual contribution towards the rent.
  • Sole tenancy: each student has their own individual tenancy agreement with exclusive possession of a specific room, and pays rent individually. Failure to pay rent or eviction of one tenant doesn't affect other tenants' tenancies.
  • Sole tenancy signed by one student: one student signs a tenancy agreement for the whole property and sublets rooms to other students as lodgers (provided the landlord agrees to it).

NB: Students who share accommodation often live in houses in multiple occupation (HMO). If the property you live in is an HMO, your landlord has extra responsibilities and may need a licence for the property.

Sharing home with your landlord

Some students prefer to rent a room directly in the landlord's property. This type of housing arrangement is known as a lodger agreement, whereby the occupier has their own room but shares common facilities (such as a kitchen and bathroom) with the landlord. As opposed to assured shorthold tenants, lodgers have limited rights in the property. For example, they don’t have exclusive use of the room and can be evicted at any time.

Deposit and guarantor

As a condition of letting accommodation to students, most private landlords ask for a deposit and require a third party to act as a guarantor for rent payments.

A guarantor is someone - usually a parent or close relative - who agrees to pay for your rent if you don't pay it. The guarantee agreement between the guarantor and the landlord must be in writing. In case of joint tenancy shared by several students, it's common for the guarantee to apply to all of the rent.

As for the deposit, under an assured shorthold tenancy, it must be protected in a government-approved scheme, which ensures you’ll get your money back at the end of the tenancy. For more information about deposits, read Deposit protection schemes.

Many universities in the UK give their students the possibility to live in halls of residence near or within the university campus. University halls can offer different types of accommodation, such as rooms in a shared residence or individual studio flats.

Depending on universities, accommodation in halls can be available for term-time or for the full calendar year, and rent is often due at the beginning of each term. The price for accommodation usually includes bills for heating and water. Students who live in university halls are automatically exempt from paying council tax.

Educational institutions offering students accommodation must provide safe and good quality accommodation and are required to belong to a government-approved code which sets out safety, security and maintenance standards.

Halls of residence can also be managed by private companies that are not linked to a specific university. In such case, the letting will usually take the form of a shorthold tenancy agreement and won’t be subject to a code of standards.

Application to university halls of residence is usually made directly through the university website.

As for private rented accommodation, many students find it through a letting agent. In exchange of an administration fee, the letting agent helps the tenant find accommodation and manages the property while the tenant is living there. For more protection, it’s advisable to choose a letting agent that has signed up to a letting scheme, such as:

  • National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
  • Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA)
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