Private rented housing for students

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

You can also search online or use an agent who specialises in student lettings.

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

Read the paperwork and ask any questions before you hand over money or sign a contract.

It can be difficult to get out of a tenancy once you've signed an agreement.  

Beware of rental scams

Fraudsters sometimes advertise properties that do not exist or have already been rented out. They ask for an upfront fee and then disappear with your money.

Students are often targeted by rental fraud.

Finding a decent landlord

Some student housing providers agree to meet higher standards than you might find generally when renting privately.

Private landlord accreditation schemes

Some private landlords choose to join a local accreditation scheme and meet certain standards.

Search for a scheme on Accreditation Network UK

The National Code

Many universities and private providers of purpose-built student accommodation sign up to the National Code.

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

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


Landlords and agents often ask students to provide a guarantor.

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

They will have to sign a guarantor agreement and may need legal advice.

For example, your parent might be happy to guarantee your rent but may not want to do the same for other people you share with.  

Find out more about the responsibilities of a guarantor

Paying a tenancy deposit

You'll probably be asked to pay a tenancy deposit.

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your deposit must be protected in a scheme.

You should get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy unless the landlord has reasons to make deductions from it.

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

Understanding your tenancy agreement

Most students who rent privately are assured shorthold tenants. With this type of tenancy you have the same rights as people who are not students.

Responsibility for rent in a joint tenancy

You're jointly responsible for the rent if you sign up for a joint tenancy. This means you are responsible for the full rent if one of you moves out or does not pay their share.

Tenancies that include energy bills

Some student tenancies in shared houses include energy bills as part of the agreement.

Check your contract for 'fair usage' clauses. This is a term in the agreement that can limit the amount of gas, electric or water you use above a certain level.

If there is a cash limit on how much energy or water you can use, the tenants will usually have to cover any amount above that.

How long the tenancy lasts

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

If there's a break clause in the agreement, you or the landlord may be able to end the agreement early.

If any of the joint tenants stay on past the end of the fixed term without signing a new agreement, the tenancy becomes a rolling tenancy and all the joint tenants are still responsible for rent.

Find out about:

Responsibility for council tax

Your home is exempt from council tax if everyone who lives there is a full time student.

It is your responsibility to tell the council you do not have to pay council tax. The council may still send you a bill if you do not tell them.

Get a document confirming you're a student from your university or college and show it to the council.

Tell the council you're all students so they know the property is exempt. Get a document from your university or college to confirm your student status.

If you share with non-students

The council will issue a bill for the property but you should not have to pay it.  

Your landlord is usually responsible for council tax if either:

  • the property has been built or adapted for use by more than 1 household

  • you each have your own separate agreement for your individual rooms 

  • you're a lodger who lives with your landlord

If the property is a self-contained flat or house and you have a joint tenancy, then the non-student tenants may have to pay the bill between them.

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:

You're responsible for looking after your home, reporting any repairs and allowing access to your home for inspections. 

You're also expected to do small jobs like changing light bulbs or testing smoke alarms.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

You probably live in a house in multiple occupation if you share your home with at least 2 other people who are not related to you.

All HMO landlords have additional responsibilities. For example, they must:

  • take extra fire safety steps

  • get electrical installations checked every 5 years  

  • provide clean rooms and furniture at the start of the tenancy

  • keep outbuildings, gardens, outside walls and fences in good condition

  • make sure there are enough bins and areas for collecting rubbish 

An HMO must be licensed by the council if 5 or more people live there. Some councils require all HMOs to be licensed. 

Licensed HMOs have to meet additional health and safety standards.

Ask your local council if you're unsure whether your home should be licensed.

Last updated: 29 September 2022

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