What do I need to know?
Finding a suitable place you can afford as a student can be difficult but there are options available. Think carefully before you enter into any contract to rent somewhere. Make sure the property is right for you and that you have enough money to pay the rent and the bills.
If you go to view a private rented property always stay safe and beware of fraud or scams. Never hand over any money until you have viewed the property and avoid using cash to pay any deposit or rent in advance.
If you have a private landlord they must be registered and hold a licence with Rent Smart Wales or use a letting agent who has a licence. If you are having problems with your landlord contact Shelter Cymru for advice or contact Rent Smart Wales.
Find Out More
There are lots of places that advertise spare accommodation for students. Try these:
- the accommodation office or student welfare office at your college or university
- search online – popular websites include Zoopla, Rightmove, Spareroom, Gumtree
- noticeboards around the campus.
If you haven’t started your course yet, speak in advance with the accommodations office who should be able to help you.
In the first year many students live in halls of residence. You usually get your own room and you share a living and cooking area with other students. Halls of residence are good for meeting other students but always make sure you read and understand all the paperwork that you get.
After your first year there are other options available. These include:
- flats or houses that you rent from the university or college
- accommodation rented from a private landlord.
If you choose to rent from a private landlord, you will probably have a standard occupation contract. Make sure you view the property before signing any occupation contract.
Read more about viewing a property here.
You can also screenshot or print these checklists and take them with you to any viewing :
Most students choose to move into a house or flat with other students, this can be fun and a good experience and can reduce living costs. But don’t rush into sharing a house with people you don’t know really well. Take some time and think if it is the right option for you.
If you share a place with others you will probably sign a joint occupation contract. This means that you and your housemates will be equally responsible for paying the rent and bills.
For more advice on sharing accommodation, click here.
If you need help understanding your occupation contract, click here.
When you pay a deposit for a standard occupation contract, the landlord or letting agent must, within 30 days of receiving the deposit:
- protect it through a government-backed deposit protection scheme, and
- provide you with certain information about the deposit and the scheme. The law calls this ‘prescribed information’.
At the end of your occupation contract, your landlord or agent must ask the scheme to return the deposit to you, unless they have lost out financially because, for example, you have caused damage to the property, or you owe rent. Your landlord or agent cannot keep your deposit to cover putting right normal wear and tear.
Some houses or flats that are occupied by more than one household are classed as houses in multiple occupation (or HMO).
You may be living in an HMO if you live in a house or flat that is occupied by at least 3 tenants, forming more than one household, and you share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.
Private landlords of HMOs have extra legal responsibilities to protect their occupiers. Find out more here.
Many people living in HMOs have standard occupation contracts.
If you are a joint contract holder with a periodic standard contract, you can move out of the property without ending the contract for the other remaining joint contract holders.
If you have a joint fixed term standard contract, you will need the agreement of the landlord and other joint contract-holders if you want to leave the contract. It is always best to get agreements in writing.
If you have your landlords agreement, you are also able to add a new joint contract holder without having to end the contract.
Most full-time students are not able to claim universal credit (UC) or housing benefit (HB), but there are some exceptions:
- click here to find out more about claiming HB as a student
- click here to find out more about claiming UC as a student.
Part-time students can usually claim benefits but the rules are complicated. If you are not sure whether you’re entitled to help it’s always best to get advice. Check Entitledto to see what you can claim.
If you are in real financial trouble you could also :
If there is disrepair to the place you are living in, contact your landlord or university to let them know and ask them to carry out the repairs. They should carry them out within a reasonable time.
If the repairs are not carried out then you might need to take further action. See our advice on repairs and bad conditions to see what you can do.
Don’t stop paying your rent. You might be evicted.
All rented homes must meet certain health and safety standards. You can ask the council to inspect your home and use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess if there are risks, including an assessment to see if the place you live in is overcrowded.
If you live in a rented property with other students, the property might be exempt from council tax.
Properties can be exempt if :
- all the occupants are full time university or college students
- all the residents are under the age of 18.
If the property is exempt it means you do not have to pay any council tax, regardless of your income or how much savings you have.
You can find out more about council tax here.