What you should do vs what your landlord does

If you’re living in student accommodation managed by a private landlord, it’s a different setup to living in university-managed accommodation. Here’s what you need to know.

Student accommodation – what to ask and what you need to know

Are you looking at shared student houses? Maybe you’d like to live in a shared house so you can choose your own housemates and live with friends who are going to the same uni?

If so, it’s worth thinking about what you’d like to ask the letting agent or landlord when you view a property that you’d potentially like to live in. Do a bit of research and have a few questions in mind to make sure it’s the right place for you.

If you have any questions or you’re wondering whether to live in private accommodation or uni halls of residence, you’re welcome to have a chat with a student who’s already at uni.

1. Things you might want to know before you look at accommodation

Just how much rent should a student pay?

This is very much an individual question. Student accommodation can vary in price a lot – depending on how modern it is, how close to campus, what area of town it’s in and what facilities it has. Have a look at the budget you might have, or the student finance you can get – then you’ll have an idea of what you might be able to afford, or whether you’d need a part-time job to help you pay for the accommodation you’d like.

Do I pay tax as a student?

Probably not – you’d have to earn over the personal allowance limit, which for 2021/22 is £12,570. So if you have a part-time job while you study you might not exceed the personal allowance. Plus things like student loans, grants, bursaries, scholarships, Child Tax Credits and Disability Living Allowance are totally non-taxable – so won’t count towards your personal allowance.


2. Things you might want to ask your landlord or letting agent

How many weeks do you pay for student accommodation?

Check how long the tenancy is for, as it might be more or less than you want. Some courses have different term dates, and some students want to stay in their uni town or city over the summer – so make sure the tenancy is as long as you need it to be.

What’s the noise level like in the area?

If you’ll be doing a lot of studying in your student accommodation, or if you’d prefer to live in a peaceful area rather than a lively one, ask what the noise level is like. You don’t want to move in and find out there’s a motorcycle club nearby or a late night bar two doors down.

How can I check if my student accommodation is safe?  

Generally all university-approved private accommodation will have to meet a minimum set of standards, which should include safety. Though when you view the property, ask the landlord or letting agent to show you the locks and make sure the doors and windows seem secure. You can also take a look around the local area or read reviews online to see if it seems like the right place for you.

What’s the internet like?

This should be straightforward – but worth an ask! If there are a lot of you in a shared property, you might want to make sure the internet will be good enough for you to all study, watch TV, game and stream music at the same time.

3. Your responsibilities in a shared student property

Your tenancy contract will likely outline some restrictions in terms of how much noise you can make – particularly after hours – and how often the property is inspected by the landlord or letting agent. They’ll want you to take care of the place, keeping it clean and tidy so it’s still in good condition the following year.

They may ask you not to use blue tack or give you tips on how to keep the property in good condition – eg cleaning, or ventilating the house to prevent condensation (which could turn into mould over time).

You may also be responsible for the energy costs – e.g. heating and electricity – so it’s up to you how often you want the heating on, or how often you’d prefer to put on a jumper!

4. Your landlord’s responsibilities

Your landlord should be on hand if you have any questions about the property or if there are any maintenance issues. Before you move in they’ll also have to ensure everything is in good condition ­– from the heating and the shower to the oven and the fridge.

If you have any issues you’d be able to contact the university’s accommodation team for support – as long as you chose a student house that’s on the university’s approved accommodation list. (Although, even if it isn’t, they may be able to support you in some way or another.)