During my first year I lived in a two-floored university-owned bungalow on Parkgate Road with 5 other first year students. On first looking at the house I thought it would be very cramped for 6 people but once I looked inside I was pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness. There were 3 bedrooms downstairs and 3 bedrooms upstairs, 2 shared bathrooms on each floor and a very large kitchen/dining area downstairs. It was very close to the main campus (only a 1 minute walk up the road), so compared to other university-owned accommodation, it was very ideal.
However, the halls of residence that are based on the main campus aren't as appealing; noise seems to be a problem, especially at night. One accommodation building is literally situated across from the SU - not good! Some of these halls on campus are also quite old.
Abbeygate on Victoria Road is a modern alternative; the bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms and a kitchen/living room area at the end of each hallway. The negatives are that the bedrooms and bathrooms are very small, the kitchen has to be shared by a large number of people and it's more distant from the main campus.
Overall, the main difference between houses / privately owned accommodation and halls of residence is privacy. Houses definitely guarantee more privacy.