Student accommodation

Finding a suitable place you can afford, whilst concentrating on your studies, can be difficult.

Some of the different accommodation options available to students are outlined below.

You might also want to look at our student checklist to help you think about what things to consider when finding a place.

You can find lots more advice and information in our Students page.

Student accommodation options

University halls of residence

Halls of residence refers to accommodation that is usually owned and managed by the university and is located on the university campus. You can usually find out about halls on the university’s own website.

You may have to share a bedroom in halls, but many universities offer accommodation with a private bedroom and shared facilities (kitchen, bathrooms etc.). Some halls provide meals and bed-linen and some are self-catering.

Halls of residence are a popular option for students moving away to college or university for the first time. Most universities give priority for halls to first year students. After the first year, many students decide to move into alternative accommodation alone or with friends.

However not all universities or colleges have halls of residence on the campus. Some universities are located in city or town centres and offer accommodation there. There might be other purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) operated by private companies available in the area (see below).

What kind of agreement will I get in halls of residence?

You should be given a ‘standard occupation contract’ if you are living in halls. Your contract should explain your rights and responsibilities. The type of standard contract that a university or college can give you is slightly different to standard contracts in the private rented sector. You will have different rights (such as how much notice you should get if you are being evicted). To find out about standard contracts with different rules, such as those given by a university or college, see here.

It is important that you take time to read your contract to make sure you understand what it says before you sign it.  If there is anything that is unclear or unfair, get help. The contract may not be legally correct.

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA)

PBSA is off-campus accommodation built as student accommodation by private developers. PBSA is usually managed by private companies although some universities manage off-campus accommodation themselves. There are different types of PBSA available, and the cost of rent can vary, so make sure you will be able to afford it before signing a renting agreement or occupation contract.

PBSA accommodation can be shared, where each person gets their own room and shares a living room and/or kitchen with other residents. Some PBSA offer studio flats for those needing their own space. There are usually facilities, such as game rooms, cafes, study areas etc. and accommodation managers sometimes organise social events.

What kind of agreement will I get in PBSA?

If you live in purpose-built student accommodation and it is managed by a private company (i.e. not the university) then you should get a ‘standard occupation contract‘. This will probably be a fixed term standard contract, and will be similar to the types of contract given in general private rented accommodation. You can find out what rules your landlord needs to follow if they want to evict you here.

If the accommodation is managed by the university, it will still be a standard contract, but you will have different rights (such as how much notice you should get if you are being evicted). To find out about standard contracts with different rules, such as those given by a university or college, see here.

Private rented accommodation

You may decide to move into a private rented houseshare or flatshare with friends. Many landlords and letting agencies advertise online. Popular national websites include:

Zoopla

Rightmove

Prime Location

These sites mostly advertise properties that are being let by a letting agent on behalf of a landlord. It is a good idea to check if the agent will manage the property while you live there, or whether the landlord will manage the property directly. You may also find local websites or social media sites advertising places to rent.

Other websites, such as Spareroom and Gumtree allow users to place ads directly. Many adverts on these sites are placed by landlords or letting agents, however some adverts are placed by people who are renting the property. If you are searching for a property on this type of website, be aware that you could have fewer legal rights if the occupancy is a lodger’s agreement or sub-occupation contract. Make sure you check the contract before you sign and view the accommodation before you agree to move in

You should also check whether the property is registered with Rent Smart Wales and whether a Rent Smart Wales licence-holder will be managing the property. If the advertisement is for a lodger, the property does not need to be registered and licensed.

What kind of agreement will I get in private rented accommodation?

As a student in private rented accommodation, you have the same rights as any other private renter. Your landlord or letting agent should give you a ‘standard occupation contract‘ (unless you are a lodger, see below).

Standard occupation contracts can either be periodic standard or fixed term standard contracts. Student accommodation is usually rented on a fixed term standard contract where the fixed term runs for the academic year or for a full 12 months.

If you live in a shared flat or house you will probably be given a ‘joint occupation contract’. This means that you all sign up to the same contract, and are each responsible to make sure you carry out your responsibilities. You will also be responsible for the rent in full even if your housemates do not pay. For more information about rent arrears see here.

In some shared houses, you might each be given a separate contract, for your room only. This is less common than being given a joint occupation contract, but means that you can only be held responsible for the rent for your room. If you only rent the room, you may have less rights in relation to the common areas. This is a complex area of law, so get help if you have any problems.

If you have a fixed term standard contract, you do not have a right to end that contract unless there is a ‘contract-holders break clause’. For more information about leaving a fixed term standard contract, see here. You can find out about the rules your landlord must follow if they want to evict you here.

It is important that you are happy with the accommodation, the people you will be sharing with and the length of the fixed term. This because you will be responsible to pay the rent for that time. It is a good idea to agree with your housemates about having visitors, how you will pay bills and keep the place clean.

If you are all 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. However, if you end your studies you might be liable for the full council tax. If you are on a separate contract for your room only, then your landlord is probably liable for the council tax. Be sure to check what your contract says about council tax. You can get help from Citizens Advice or Shelter Cymru if you are unsure.

If you live as a lodger in your landlord’s home and 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.

Getting help with your accommodation options

If you don’t know where to start looking into accommodation options, don’t be afraid to contact the university or colleges accommodation office or students’ union to and ask for assistance. Their contact details will be on their website.

If you’ve tried these options but can’t find accommodation, your accommodation has fallen through, or you’re at risk of homelessness, you may be able to get help from the council. If you are homeless but the council are refusing to take a homelessness application, you can get help from Shelter Cymru.

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 08000 495 495.

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This page was last updated on: June 4, 2024

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.