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Home Housing Renting Renting private student accommodation in the UK
Last update on June 21, 2022

If you want to rent student accommodation in the UK, make sure you read the tenancy agreement and check if your property has the appropriate rental licensing.

If you’re renting in the UK from a private landlord or letting agent, find out whether your property needs to be licensed. Before you rent student accommodation in the UK, make sure you read any tenancy agreement carefully and if you’re not happy, seek advice immediately.


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Finding student accommodation in the UK

Some students will look to find accommodation in their second year, after spending the first in university halls. However, some students – including those relocating from abroad – may need to find accommodation before their first year.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can find student accommodation. Your first port of call should be your university housing office. Alternatively, there are a number of dedicated online portals where you can search for accommodation. These include:

Remember that as a student, you have the same rights as any other private tenant.

Does your landlord need a licence?

If you live with friends, check with your local authority to see if your landlord needs to get a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) licence for your property.

Your house must be specially licensed as a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ if it has:

  •  five or more unrelated people sharing; and
  •  three or more storeys.

Some local authorities may also choose to license houses with smaller numbers of occupants or storeys.

This license requires landlords to be capable managers, and to ensure the house is occupied by a limited number of people.

Tenancy deposits and guarantors

Once you’ve found a suitable place to rent, most landlords and letting agents will need you to pay a deposit, and may also ask for a guarantor before they draw up a contract. They may also ask you to pay rent in advance.

Don’t hand over any money until you’ve had a good look around the property: check for obvious signs of disrepair, damp, badly fitting doors or windows, or anything that could compromise your security.

It might also help to take someone else with you to get their views on the property.

Paying a deposit

Landlords often ask for a deposit to cover missing rent or damage made to the property. Always get a written receipt for money paid to a landlord or letting agent.

Ask your landlord if they will provide an inventory of the contents of the house, including kitchen goods such as a kettle and toaster.

Your deposit should be returned to you if all fees have been settled and the property has not been damaged beyond normal wear and tear. If you feel that it’s being withheld unfairly, you can seek professional advice for tips on getting your deposit back.


Your landlord may ask students to provide a guarantor who agrees to cover costs if you don’t pay the rent, or cause significant damage to the property. A guarantor will usually be a parent or guardian.

If you have a joint tenancy, any guarantor will also be jointly liable for overdue rent or damage caused by the other tenants.

Guarantors can try and limit their liability by writing it into their guarantor agreement – to do this, seek independent legal advice.

Tenancy agreements

Tenancy agreements help to protect your rights as a tenant and outline what your obligations will be.

Whatever your type of tenancy, read any paperwork involved carefully before you agree to move in or sign any written agreements.

Your responsibilities

Whatever type of agreement you sign, you will be required to look after your property in a reasonable way – for example, emptying bins and keeping the house tidy and clean. See ‘Renting from a private landlord in the UK’.