Student accommodation guide #2: private accommodation
Got your Clearing place, but missed out on a room in halls? If you're thinking about private accommodation, here's what you need to know, including the pros and cons.
Missed out on university accommodation?If you tried and failed to bag a place in student halls, you’re not the only one – more than one in 10 (13%) of the students we spoke to last year who went through Clearing said they ended up not getting university accommodation.
Don’t panic too much if you missed out – here’s how to secure a rental property…
Use your university housing officeYour university housing office isn’t there just to place you in university managed accommodation – it can support you with finding a private-rented property, too. Here are a few examples of how it can help:
- Universities usually have approved lists of landlords and student-friendly lettings agents.
- Get tips on what to look out for when you view properties and things you need to know before signing a tenancy agreement.
- Some practical ways to meet other students who are house-hunting – for example, through dedicated Facebook groups or events.
Choosing private accommodation: need-to-knows
- Can be a cheaper option: university-managed accommodation is often more expensive
- Independence: you decide where and with whom you’re living
- Flexibility: you’ve got more choice on the area and type of accommodation you’d like.
- Managing bills: you'll need to factor bills in over and above your rent
- More to organise: you'll be dealing direct with a landlord or letting agent
- Away from the action: you may find yourself outside the main campus
- Joint contracts: you may be asked to sign a joint contract. Be aware that this means you could be chased if someone else doesn't pay the rent!
Word of warning: do your research (and use your university housing office!) before you start looking to make sure you avoid some of the common landlord and letting agent pitfalls (see tips on tenants rights over on Which?'s main website).
Don't feel pressured to sign up to something you're not comfortable with – many unis or students' unions offer a contract checking service, to ensure you're not being ripped off or taken advantage of.
Typical costs: private accommodation vs. halls
Bear in mind, though, that private accommodation contracts tend to cover the entire year rather than just university term time – so you may be paying rent for a period while you’re not actually living there.
Tip: Don't disregard the cheaper houses – do you really need all-modern facilities or your own ensuite bathroom?
- Student accommodation pros and cons: video tips from current students
- No spaces in student halls: ways to find alternative accommodation