Student accommodation

Most students have to live on very little money and aren’t entitled to housing benefit. Finding a suitable place you can afford, whilst concentrating on your studies can be difficult.

The page below gives you details of the different accommodation options available to students. We have also developed a factsheet which outlines some of the common problems students face when renting from a private landlord.

You can also find lots more advice and information for students in our advice for students pages.

Where can I look for accommodation?

If you are moving away to college or university for the first time the chances are you will choose to move into Halls of Residence for the first year. The majority of institutions give priority to first year students. Many students decide to stay in Halls for the duration of their studies (although this option isn’t always available) and others decide to move into alternative accommodation alone or with friends that they have made.

Most colleges and universities have an accommodation office or student welfare officer in the students’ union who can help you find a place to live. You could also check student notice boards around the campus for vacancies in shared houses, or place an advert yourself saying what you are looking for. Shop windows, local newspapers and magazines may also have adverts. You could also check out websites that specialise in student accommodation. Not all options are available in all areas, so you’ll need to be realistic about what you are prepared to accept and be as organised as you can early in the year.

If you haven’t started your studies and are not moving into Halls of Residence, don’t be afraid to contact the accommodation office or students’ union of the institution you’re going to and ask for assistance. Their contact details will be on their website.

What are my options?

Below is a list of the different types of accommodation that may be available to you:

Halls of Residence
Many colleges and universities have halls of residence. You usually get your own room and share cooking, bathroom and toilet facilities with other students. En-suite facilities are generally prioritised for second and third year students. Some halls provide meals and bed-linen and some are self-catering. If you are moving into halls make sure you read all of the paperwork you receive and complete and return any forms on time.

You should be given an agreement explaining the rights and responsibilities you have before you move in. This is more commonly known as your accommodation contract. In most cases it will say that you are an occupier with basic protection. This means that you can be evicted fairly easily but the institution has to give you at least four weeks written notice and get a court order before you have to leave. The fresher period is a busy time for all students including returning ones – not to mention all of the entertainment and parties that will no doubt be going on. However, it is important that you take time to read your hall agreement (contract) to make sure you understand what it says before you sign it. In one university they charge you £10 for every full black bag that is left out in the kitchen! If there is anything that is unclear or unfair, get advice from your students’ union or Shelter Cymru. The contract may not be legally correct.

Most halls of residence are owned by the college or university but in some cases they are owned and managed by private companies. If this is the case, the college or university still decide who gets a place but the company is your landlord. The company is responsible for collecting the rent and managing services such as cleaning and repairs.

College or university houses and flats
Some college and universities have flats and/or houses that they rent to students. They are usually very popular so it can be difficult to get a place. In most cases, mature students and people with children get priority.

In some cases, the institution leases these properties from private landlords, housing associations or, less commonly, from the local council. If you are in this type of accommodation, it is important to check whether your landlord is the institution or the owner of the property. Either way, your landlord is responsible for carrying out any repairs needed and for dealing with any problems related to your tenancy or licence agreement.

In most cases, you will be an occupier with basic protection if the institution is your landlord. You will probably be an assured shorthold tenant if your landlord is a housing association or a private company or individual.

Privately Rented Accommodation
In many areas there is a lot of privately rented accommodation available. Some places are rented directly from the landlord and some are rented through a letting agency. The accommodation office and/or students’ union will usually have a list of local private accommodation landlords that have been approved by the institution.

You may be able to find a place:

  • in a bedsit or flat of your own
  • in a shared flat or house
  • as a lodger in your landlord’s home.

As a student, you have the same rights as any other private tenant.You will probably be an assured shorthold tenant.

The quality and price of privately rented accommodation is very variable and private landlords can provide lots of different types of tenancies. You should always go and see the accommodation and read any paperwork involved before you agree to move in or sign any written agreements. Don’t hand over any money until you are certain.

Remember: – a reputable landlord or agent should not pressure you to sign a tenancy until shortly before the tenancy is due to begin.

If you want to live alone, bedsits and lodgings are usually cheaper than flats. But if you share any accommodation with your landlord you will be an excluded occupier. This means that you have few rights and can be evicted very easily.

Many students prefer to share flats or houses with friends. You usually get more for your money if you are sharing and will be able to split the cost of the bills. If all your flatmates are students, you don’t have to pay any council tax but you may need to get a certificate from your college or university to show the council.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

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This page was last updated on: March 21, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.