Accommodation - Student Accommodation
Our guide is aimed at helping you the student to investigate all of the options available to you, and ensure that your experience of living away runs as smoothly as can be.
There are several options to choose from when deciding where to live; they include staying in halls of residence, private accommodation, university owned accommodation, lodging with a family or remaining at home with your parents.
Living in Halls of Residence
Most universities will guarantee a place in halls to first years, although the distance between your home and University campus may well play a part in this. If you do not receive the relevant forms for halls from the university you should make contact with the Accommodation Office promptly.
Types of Accommodation in Halls
- Car parking
- Licensed Bar
- Medical Centre
- Multi-gym and Sports facilities
- Students with dependants
- Students with special needs
You may be lucky to get an en-suite room with toilet and shower facilities. Most rooms nowadays have voice/data links. This service is usually included in the rent and is not optional in some halls. It allows free internal telephone calls, voicemail facility, Internet access (via a modem) and external calls using a prepayment card. PCs and modems are not supplied.
Self-Catering or Catered Halls?
Christmas and Easter Holidays
If you approach an agency please consider the following points:
- What are you paying for?
- Get receipts
- All agreements should be in writing
- Get a copy of what you sign
- Are there any extra terms and conditions?
- See safety certificates
- Get an inventory
- Know your rights and responsibilities
- If you don't understand it, don't sign it.
Get the service you're paying for - It is illegal for an agency to charge simply for registering someone or supplying a list of addresses.
Local papers and noticeboards:
- Local papers and their websites
- Look at the Student Housing and the Students' Union noticeboards
- Look in newsagent shop windows and local supermarkets
What is an inventory?
When compiling an inventory it is essential that you:
- State the condition of every item within the property. If the inventory does not describe the condition of a particular article it will be useful for you to do so, we suggest using terminology such as: new, fair, poor, scratched, torn, stained, etc.
- Back it up with photographic evidence, this can be crucial if a dispute occurs
- Note the gas and electric meter readings
- Get the landlord to agree to, and sign, the inventory
- Get an independent witness to sign the inventory if the landlord refuses to do so.
Your landlord is required by law to make sure that all gas appliances including cookers, fires and boilers are inspected annually by a registered GAS/CORGI engineer. It is important to check that the property has been inspected and that your landlord provides a copy of his/her Gas Safety Certificate.
All furniture and furnishings supplied by a landlord, whether new or old, should comply with the 1988 Fire Safety Regulations. Check to see that the furniture provided displays a fire safety label or was made after 1988. If it does not comply with these regulations demand that the landlord replace the furniture. Make sure that smoke detectors are fitted and that they are in working order.
Accidents with electricity are rare but when you are viewing a property it is worth checking for the following:
- Check flexes/cables - look out for wear, damage and loose connections
- Overloading - ideally there should be one socket for every appliance
- Ensure that there are enough sockets in each room for your appliances
- Check that all electrical appliances are in good working order
- Ask the landlord if the electrics have been tested.
What is a contract?
Do I need a contract?
Types of tenancy
What is a joint tenancy?
Although a joint tenancy will give a group of tenants’ equal rights it also means that they have to share the responsibilities. This usually means covering someone's rent if they leave before the end of the tenancy. Taken to extremes, it could mean that a single student could be left paying rent for a whole house!
Can I leave before the end of my tenancy?
At the end of the tenancy
If you and your landlord agree to an extension of the tenancy it will probably be extended month by month and continue with the same terms and conditions as the original unless otherwise stated.
What if repairs are needed?
This means that if an item within the property is damaged or defective you need to notify the landlord as soon as possible and it is their responsibility to repair it. Should your landlord fail to maintain or repair the property or refuse to do so, make a complaint to the Environmental Health Department who have the power to require the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs.
Does my landlord have access to the rented property?
It is advisable to ask for notice to be in writing, this can be crucial if a dispute occurs, and the access to the property should be at a mutually convenient time. If it is at an unacceptable time you are entitled to refuse entry, but must arrange a time that is mutually beneficial.
Signing a contract
- Duration - How long does the tenancy run?
- Repairs - Who is responsible for the repairs?
- Payment - How is the rent paid? Direct Debit/Monthly cheques?
- Rent - Is it paid weekly or monthly?
- Restrictions - Are you allowed pets/to smoke/posters/guests?
- Liability - Is it a JOINT or INDIVIDUAL contract?
- Deposit - What sort of deposit is it? When will it be returned to you?
- Bills - Who is responsible for the payment of the bills?
If you agree to pay a holding deposit and then decide not to sign the contract, the landlord or the agent is entitled to keep the holding deposit.
At the end of the tenancy
If there are any outstanding bills or damage to the property, ask for a breakdown of the costs incurred by the landlord. The landlord must provide receipts and make the relevant deduction from your deposit. Finally, if you pay the landlord any money, always ask for a receipt!
University Owned Accommodation
This may also be your favoured option if you are looking for somewhere for a short course (a few months or even half a year). If you are looking for a short term let, your accommodation office should be your first port of call.
Board may be 'room only' or 'half board'. Most rooms offered as lodgings are single study bedrooms and meet the criteria established by the University for safety and the provision of other facilities. A Student Accommodation officer would have inspected all rooms.
- Only single study bedrooms are accepted
- Each bedroom must contain a desk or work surface large enough for study purposes and a suitable chair
- There must be adequate hanging and drawer space
- Heating appliances must be firmly secured
- Smoke detectors must be provided on each floor
- Students should be able to live as part of the family unit if it is feasible
Charges for lodgings
The University does not recommend specific rates and charges must be agreed between householder and student. For guidance only, the following are approximate weekly charges for the 2005/2006 academic year:
- Room only with use of kitchen: £45 -£70
- Bed, breakfast and evening meal: £75 - £100 ( prices vary from region to region)
If you are going to be away at weekends, either regularly or occasionally, you may wish to ask for a rent reduction. Some householders allow concessions in such cases but this is entirely a matter of arrangement between your householder and you. Similar arrangements may be possible for vacations.
Lodgings can be ideal for students coming to University from overseas, as they tend to offer a more secure, family atmosphere. This option could also be good for the first few months whilst you find your way around the University and meet people.
Staying at home
The drawbacks however are not having anywhere to hold those ‘wild’ parties, no where to ‘bring back’ your romantic liaisons, and having trouble making friends. The one reason and one that shouldn’t be easily discounted for staying at home is having a nice, clean, warm place to live - not forgetting a home-cooked meal!