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Student Rentals: Things Students Need to Know

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

According to Universities UK’s latest estimates, there are nearly 2.3 million students in the UK – 1.7 million of whom are full time, with 540,285 part-time. 438,000 are overseas students.

If you’re a student taking your first steps towards living in private rented accommodation, what do you need to know?

To help you in this process, read our advice on student rentals: things students need to know.

Finding student accommodation

You might decide to go at it alone and search for student accommodation through online searches or tip-offs from your friends.

Alternatively, you could try a lettings agency. They will be able to search their listings for those landlords happy to accept students as tenants (not all landlords do so, as some unfairly regard student tenants as a higher risk).

Letting agents don’t have to be regulated, which means that anyone can trade as a letting agent without any qualifications or a licence. However, there are some voluntary professional bodies to which letting agents can subscribe in return for a commitment to meet certain standards.

Therefore, it’s recommended to use an agent that has signed up to one of the self-regulating bodies listed below. Belonging to any of these bodies means the letting agent has committed to high standards and you will have access to a free redress scheme should things not go to plan.

  • National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
  • Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • The Property Ombudsman.

Whether you go it alone or use a letting agent, you’re certain to have to provide both character references and credit checks.

Movem have introduced an online, verifiable student “passport” which serves as your constantly updated profile and reference.

Be warned that letting agents are likely to charge you a fee. It’s important to shop around, since fees vary.

Legislation to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants has been introduced to parliament, but this is not law yet.

Types of tenancy

It’s important to understand the different types of tenancy you may be offered.

Tenancy agreements can include:

  • a joint tenancy
  • a sole tenancy
  • renting a room in your landlord’s home as a lodger
  • renting a room in a building with shared facilities, such as a bathroom, (technically known as a House in Multiple Occupation, or simply HMO)

Each type of tenancy has its rules and obligations on the part of the landlord and of the tenant.

Understanding deposits

At the beginning of your tenancy, you’re likely to be asked for a deposit – to cover the cost of any damage you may cause.

Recovering a deposit has long been a bone of contention with unscrupulous landlords, but the position has been made more secure for tenants through the introduction for all assured shorthold tenancies of a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. This requires your landlord to hold the money in an approved, independent protection scheme.

The scheme also provides arbitration in the event of a dispute with your landlord about the return of a deposit.

Students and council tax

If you’re a full-time student, you don’t have to pay council tax.

No council tax bill will be issued if all tenants are full-time students. If someone is not a full-time student, the bill is issued as normal, but they may claim a discount due to the student members of the household.

If you’re about to enter the student rental market, inform yourself about your own responsibilities and obligations as a tenant.

Moving into student housing? Find out more about your area with Phil Spencer's Property Report, containing information on everything from crime rates to local amenities. Get your property report now.

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