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How to find great student accommodation

Bryan Carroll, chair of The Universities UK/Guild HE Student Accommodation Code of Practice Sector Advisory Group, shares his tips on how to find accommodation that is right for you

Going to university or college can be one of the most exciting and challenging times of life. Often, it’s when students move away from home for the first time - so finding the right accommodation is pretty important

If you’ve secured a place at university starting soon and haven’t yet found a place to live, don’t worry, there’s still time and a number of routes you can go down to find something that suits you.

Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to live in university managed or nominated accommodation, or with a private landlord.

Choosing university managed accommodation can also give you a catered or self-catered option. Whilst catered accommodation offers the benefits of your meals being cooked for you and a degree of certainty with meal costs, the freedom, (and challenge) of cooking yourself or within a group is a popular option and can give you greater flexibility.

If you have an idea about what you prefer, the accommodation office at your university will be able to tell you what accommodation they have available - so that’s a sensible place to start.

If you are thinking of renting from a private landlord - either in a shared house with other students or a larger purpose built student development - or if your chosen university can’t offer you anything in its own residences, the accommodation office should be able to provide you with a list of private properties and landlords in the area.

Many universities require landlords of ‘shared house’ properties to register with the university through an accreditation scheme, which means that the property and/or landlord will need adhere to a set of standards. It is worth checking with the university or the landlord to see if the property you are considering is part of such a scheme.

Wherever you choose to live, you should make sure that you know your contractual rights and responsibilities. In most cases you will be asked to enter into a tenancy agreement, which you should read thoroughly before you sign.

If you are planning to live in either university managed accommodation, or a larger development managed by a private landlord, you should check that the accommodation is signed up to a Code of Practice or Code of Standards – which are Government approved schemes, and designed to ensure the property you live in is safe, of good quality and provides a route to bring issues to the attention of the landlord if things aren’t as they should be.

There are three government-approved codes: two covering university managed accommodation, which are The UUK/Guild HE Code of Practice for the Management of Student Housing, and the Accreditation Network UK (ANUK) Code of Practice for Student Accommodation Managed by Higher Education Establishments. Both offer protection if you are living in university-managed accommodation.

If your choose to live in a purpose built development managed by a private landlord, it should be signed up to the Accreditation Network UK (ANUK) Code of Standards for Larger Developments not managed and controlled by educational establishments."

So, with a room, some flatmates and an awareness of your rights all sorted, it will just be down to few final touches to make your place really feel like home. A few photos, soft furnishing and some mood lighting can make a world of difference.

Oh, and a bottle of wine, or a box of chocolates, can prove very helpful when you first come to meet your new neighbours.