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.