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As we approach the new academic year, you may have been viewing properties in the private sector or looking at other options for accommodation. University of London Housing Services is a great place to start looking.

Our Advice service will also be on hand throughout the summer and academic year if you have any questions about securing accommodation, or what you should be looking out for in a tenancy agreement. We have a few frequently asked questions to get you started.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find people to share a flat with?

Check out the UoL Flatmate Finder Facebook group and UoL Housing Services - Housing Platform . You can also find spare rooms in properties on websites like Rightmove and Spareroom.

How do I find affordable housing?

What is 'affordable' will be different for every student. When starting your accommodation research, your budget will dictate what areas of London will be available to you so make sure you have an idea of what you can afford.

Generally, the closer you live in central London and the fewer people you share a property with, the higher the rent. Take a look at this interactive London Rental Map. Living in areas outside central London may offer you a reduced rent, but you'll also need to factor in travel time and costs.

The average student rent in London is estimated at £663 per month but it can be higher in some areas of London. The average amount student bill payers spend on energy bills £85 per month – this doesn’t include costs like internet, mobile phone bill and water rates.

When is the best time to start looking for accommodation?

June, July and August is a good time to look at housing providers.

Private landlords start advertising their properties towards the end of the current tenancies. Most private student halls are a first come first served basis so research these sooner rather than later.

University Accommodation is application based, and you'll need to apply by deadlines and meet eligibility criteria.  

What happens after I find a property I like?

Negotiating rent - Where demand for accommodation in the private rental market is high, you are likely to find numerous people interested in the same property. This means that properties may not be available for very long after being advertised and the landlord/agent may ask for you to make ‘an offer’ on the rent, for example, you could be asked to increase your rent or accept a longer agreement. Keep in mind that the rent you see on the advert, may not be the amount you agree on.

Don't be pressured - It's up to you to decide whether you are comfortable with paying a higher rent or accepting a longer tenancy. Once you have signed a tenancy agreement with these terms, you are legally bound.

Pay your deposit –  To secure your accommodation, you may be asked to pay a holding deposit whilst your landlord or letting agent sorts out the necessary paperwork. This is normally equal to one weeks’ rent. When you sign your contract, you will then probably be asked to pay for the first month’s rent plus a security deposit which cannot be higher than five weeks’ rent. We have produced a useful article on fees you might have to pay.

Right to Rent checks - Private landlords are legally required to check that a prospective tenant has a legal right to live in the UK. Your landlord will ask to see documents such as an original copy of your passport and any relevant visa documentation or an online share code.

What should I look out for when signing a tenancy agreement?

You can use our Renting Checklist for some useful information and tips on what to look out for in a contract. Make sure to get in writing any changes that your landlord or letting agent has agreed to do before you move in. This could include repairs, cleaning or extra furniture.

If you think your tenancy is unclear or you have any questions, you can get in touch with your Advice Service and we'll review your agreement.

You can also find some further tips on tenancy agreements in the University of London Housing Services’ Contract Checking Guide.

Where can I find a rent guarantor?

It’s likely that your landlord or letting agent will ask you to provide a guarantor. This is someone who agrees to pay your rent if for some reason you are not able to. Normally this is your parent or guardian, but UCL also runs a Rent Guarantor Scheme for full-time students who can't secure a UK-based rent guarantor.

Alternative Rent Guarantor Schemes are available via external third party providers such as Housing Hand and UKGuarantor. Please do note that any arrangements you make with external providers will be at your own risk and UCL will not pay for any associated costs.

If you can't secure a guarantor or a landlord does not want to accept your guarantor, you may be asked to pay for up to 6 months' rent upfront. Think carefully whether you are comfortable and can afford to do this before agreeing to pay large amounts of money.

How best can I negotiate paying rent monthly rather than biannually?

Some Landlords ask for rent to be paid in monthly, 6 month or 1 annual payment but there's no harm in you negotiating a different payment plan with them. If paying monthly works better for you because it helps you to budget, explain to the Landlord why and be open with their reply.

Have rented before? Show that you are a good tenant and point out that you have a history of paying your rent on time, and whether you take care of a property, or provide a reference from your previous landlord.

You could offer to pay 2-3 months at the start of the tenancy, then move onto monthly payments, provide a guarantor or offer to pay a higher monthly rent.

Whatever you agree, make sure you get it in writing - you might need to refer back to what was said if there are problems.

Can I end my tenancy early?

Check for a break clause in your contract - A break clause allows you or your landlord to end the tenancy early by giving notice. Not all student tenancy agreements have a break clause, but you could ask your landlord if it’s possible to include one if you think you may want to move out early. Without a break clause, it's likely that you'll be liable for the property until the end of the tenancy.

Where can I store my belongings during the summer?

UCL Accommodation has partnered with Lovespace to help with storage solutions if you cannot take all of your belongings with you at once. There are a number of other storage companies in London where you can rent spaces to keep your belongings in between tenancy contracts.

How do I find accommodation post-University?

This depends on where you want to live - in London or further afield - and on your income. If you don't know what your income will be after University, research jobs in the fields and locations you are interested in to give you a starting point. You can then look at the cost of renting and whether this is manageable within your budget.

Use the Where can I live? tool from Rightmove which compares your budget, property criteria and where you need to live near. You can also check out this Rental Price Tracker to give you an idea about rents in and out of London.

If you're not sure how to make a budget, take a look at our advice on budgeting and managing your income.

Our Advice Service has lots of useful information on student housing issues.

Ready to find out more? Check out these videos