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Private rented housing for students

Students have the same rights as other private renters.

A 'student tenancy' is not a type of tenancy in law. You usually have an assured shorthold tenancy if you rent a house from a private landlord.

You probably have a different type of tenancy if you live in halls of residence.

Use our tenancy rights checker to check what type of tenancy you have.

You might have a joint tenancy if you share a home with other people.

How to find student housing

Ask your university or college to help you find somewhere to live.

You can also:

  • search online

  • use an agent for student lettings

The quality and price of private rented housing varies. Visit the property if you can.

Read any paperwork and check you know what you're agreeing to before you hand over money or sign a contract.

It can be difficult to end a tenancy after you've signed an agreement.  

Beware of rental scams

Students are often targeted by rental fraud.

This is when someone advertises a property that does not exist or has already been rented out. They ask for a fee and then disappear with your money.

Rent from an accredited landlord

Lots of universities run accreditation schemes for landlords.

Landlords can only join if their properties meet certain standards.

Some schemes also help you sort out disputes with your landlord.

Check your university's website or ask your student union if they have a scheme.

The National Code

The National Code sets higher property management standards for student accommodation.

Both universities and private landlords can sign up.

You can make a complaint if a landlord registered with the National Code does not meet the standards.  

Private landlord accreditation schemes

Some private landlords choose to join local accreditation schemes.

These schemes have their own standards.

Search for a scheme on Accreditation Network UK.

Right to rent checks

Private landlords and letting agents must check you are allowed to rent in England.

They might ask for ID like a passport or immigration document.

Most university halls of residence do not need to do these checks.


Landlords and agents often ask students for a guarantor.

This is usually a parent or family member who agrees to pay your rent if you do not. 

They have to sign a guarantor agreement that says what they are responsible for.

Guarantors may want to get legal advice on what they are agreeing to. For example, they might be happy to cover rent for you but not your housemates.

Find out more about guarantors.

Do not pay illegal letting fees

Letting agents cannot charge you to:

  • protect your deposit

  • do credit and reference checks or other admin

Find out what to do if you're charged a banned fee.

Check your tenancy deposit is protected

You might pay a tenancy deposit.

You should get this back at the end of the tenancy unless the landlord has reasons to take money from your deposit.

Your deposit must be protected in a scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Check how deposits work in joint tenancies if you live with other tenants.

Ask for an inventory before you move in. Take photos and videos. This can help avoid disputes about return of your deposit.

Tenancies that include energy bills

Some tenancies include energy bills as part of the agreement.

Check your contract for 'fair usage' clauses. These limit the amount of gas, electric or water you use. You might have to pay extra if you use more.

How long the tenancy lasts

Many students sign tenancy agreements for the academic year. For example, from 1 September to 30 June. This is called a fixed term tenancy.

You or the landlord could end the tenancy early if there's a break clause in the agreement.

A joint tenancy usually carries on for all the tenants if any of you stay after the fixed term. All the joint tenants will be responsible for the rent until you end the tenancy properly.

Find out about:

Know your rights if you need to move

Students sometimes move house during the year.

Make sure you end your responsibility for the tenancy properly.

If not, you could have problems with things like:

  • owing rent after you move out

  • getting your deposit back

Find out more about what happens if you do not end your tenancy legally.

Paying council tax

You do not have to pay council tax if everyone in your home is a full time student.

Tell the council you're students or they may still ask you to pay.

You might need a document from your university or college that shows you're a student.

Find out more about council tax for students from Citizens Advice

Repairs and conditions in your home

The home you rent should be safe to live in and in good repair.

Your landlord must:

Your student union advice centre might help if there are bad conditions in your home.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

You probably live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if you share with 2 or more people.

HMOs have to meet extra safety standards. Larger HMOs must also have a licence.

Ask your council if you do not know if your home has a licence.

Find your local council on GOV.UK.

Make sure you know your responsibilities

You usually have to do small jobs like changing light bulbs or testing smoke alarms.

You are responsible for cleaning unless there's a cleaner as part of your agreement.

You need to report any repairs and allow access to get work done.

Last updated: 9 January 2024

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