This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 27 February, 2020
Once you accept your university offer, one of the first things you’ll need to think about is where you are going to live. One of the most affordable options is university run accommodation, which is often referred to as ‘student halls’. However this does not suit everyone and you should read our article on the pros and cons of students halls.
In this article we look at the pros and cons of renting a property. You should also familiarise yourself with the basics of signing a tenancy agreement and be aware of your responsibilities of maintaining a rental property.
How easy is it to rent a property as a student?
In the UK there is always a good supply of properties near universities and you can choose to rent a whole house or flat or take a room, which is called a flat or house share. If you do a flat or house share you could end up sharing with students or even locals, so be aware the latter has tax implications as the household will be liable to pay Council Tax.
How to find a rental property
You can ask your university for a list of local agents that they would recommend. You can also use website that specialise in student accommodation such as Roomi, which has flat and house share listings for international students, Study Abroad Apartments, which lists a wide variety of properties or Unilodgers, which claims to have the most student friendly property listings in the world!
What bills will I have to pay if I rent a property
More often than not you will also have to pay the bills, such as water and electricity, and sort out things like the internet if you rent a property, so be sure to budget for the following and do ask if the property comes furnished or unfurnished, If it is unfurnished to you might need to buy things like beds.
If you want to watch telly, you will need a TV licence, which is required by law in order to watch live or recorded programmes via a TV, laptop, tablet or mobile device. You need a licence whether you live in halls, private student accommodation or are renting a house or flat. If you live in a shared house, you only need one licence per house so long as you have a joint tenancy. If you have separate agreements with the landlord, you’ll need to get separate licences.
If you’re living in university or private halls, it’s likely the internet will already be set up for you. But if you’re in a private house or flat, it’s something you’ll need to look into. There are a lot of companies that provide broadband connection such as Sky, Virgin and BT and many of them offer bundles (e.g. broadband, telephone and satellite/cable TV) which can sometimes be a good way to save money. Alternatively, you can get a dongle, a small device which you plug into your laptop. You can buy one through most mobile phone network providers.
Council tax is an annual fee you pay to your local council to help pay for public services such as libraries, police, fire services and garbage collection. Student halls are automatically exempt from having to pay council tax. Similarly, if you’re a full-time student, you’re exempt from paying council tax, but if you live in a property that is occupied with students and non-students then you might become liable.
Electricity, gas and water:
University and private halls often include electricity, water and gas bills in your rental price. But if you’re renting a private house or flat, you’ll most likely need to sort this out yourself. As soon as you move in, check the relevant meters and give the reading/s to your energy/water supplier. Your provider can help talk you through the process.
Pros to a private house or flat
Cons to a private house or flat
Living in a house or flat is a great way to fully immerse yourself in living in the UK and getting to know the locals.
Neighborhoods that are most convenient for your commute to university might be expensive.
There is greater privacy and you can save money by cooking at home.
In most cases you will be responsible for all bills and maintaining the property, including the garden, if it has one.
If you live in a house/flat share, you may end up living with locals, which is a great way to learn more about British culture.
If you don’t live on campus, it might be more difficult to participate in university events and commute to class.
What is a tenancy agreement?
When you decide which type of student accommodation you want to go with, you’ll usually sign a tenancy agreement. It’s a contract that details your name, your landlord’s name, the address, how much rent you’ll pay, the duration of your stay, when the rent is due, how you’ll pay rent, what your rent includes (bills, etc), procedure for carrying out repairs and general house rules (including overnight guests, pets, behaviour, etc). We recommend that you read the tenancy agreement carefully before signing the document.
What is a deposit?
In the UK you will be expected to pay a deposit to cover repairs that might be needed when you leave the property, that isn’t normal wear and tear, or cover rent repayments if you leave the property without paying rent.
Legally this deposit can be no more than the equivalent of six weeks rent, and is typically five weeks. The Landlord also has to put the deposit into a government-owned deposit scheme called a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, which protects you and the landlord.
If you pay all your rent and you have not caused any damage to the property then you should get all your deposit back. If your landlord refuses to pay back the deposit then read our step-by-step on how you can get your deposit back.
You may also want to read