Your student accommodation questions answered

Whether you are getting ready to start university in the autumn, planning to move on from halls or preparing for your final year, searching for a place to live is an exciting but potentially stressful time

Considering all the various options whilst trying to avoid the potential pitfalls of bad accommodation can be tricky, so it’s important to arm yourself with as much information as possible to help you make the right choice.


To help you get ahead of the game and find your perfect place, Shane Spiers, Managing Director, Property Management from UNITE, the UK’s leading provider of student accommodation, answers some of the most commonly asked questions.

1. I’ve never looked for somewhere to live before, what’s the first thing I should do?

A good place to start your search for student accommodation is at your university’s Accommodation Office which will have details of most of the options that are available. There are also a number of online sites which specialise in student accommodation.

There is a wide range of options, from university halls and traditional student housing to purpose built, managed accommodation provided by companies such as UNITE which offer a choice of locations, room types and prices.

Take time to think about what you want out of your living experience. If it’s the opportunity to meet lots of new people then you could consider halls, or privately managed accommodation, where you will be living in a building with other students. Some accommodation providers have studio flats which enable you to have your own space, but with the option to make use of communal areas.

2. Will I have to sign a contract?

Yes, all reputable landlords will want you to sign a tenancy agreement. This ensures that both you and your landlord agree on important terms such as rent and length of tenancy.

Make sure that you read the agreement thoroughly and understand the terms. If you have any concerns, you could ask your parents or university Accommodation Office to check through before you sign on the dotted line.

3. Will I have to pay rent during the holiday periods?

Most tenancy agreements are for a fixed number of weeks so, depending on the length of the tenancy, holiday periods may be included. Tenancy lengths and start dates can vary, so before signing a tenancy agreement you should get clarification from your accommodation provider on what the start date is for the tenancy and how many weeks it’s for.

Many of UNITE’s properties offer a 43 week tenancies which take you up until after your exams with the option of extending your stay over the summer at a reduced rate.

4. How do I ensure that I get my deposit back?

Ask to see the property before you move in. Make sure that the landlord is aware of any existing damage. You should also be given an inventory, check this thoroughly.

Deposits paid for rental properties are protected under a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. The scheme is designed to stop landlords from wrongly withholding all or part of your deposit and help resolve any disputes.

5. What should I budget for when I move into student accommodation?

Make sure you include the cost of all bills when working out how much you can afford to pay in rent. You will need to consider energy bills, water rates, internet connection, contents insurance and a TV license.

Some accommodation providers include the cost of bills in your rent. For example, room prices at UNITE are inclusive of utility bills, internet access and contents insurance. Check exactly what you need to pay for upfront so there are no surprises later down the line.

6. Will I have to pay council tax?

The vast majority of students are entitled to exemption on council tax, but it depends on your individual circumstances. For example, if you live in university halls or managed accommodation where everyone is classed as a full-time student for council tax purposes, you won’t have to pay council tax. If you live in a house with two or more non-students, the household will have to pay council tax. If there are fewer than two non-students, the household can get a discount.

For more information you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or visit their website, where they provide detailed information. Your university should also be able to provide you with advice on this.

You will need to register with your local authority and if you are entitled to a discount they may ask you to provide proof of your student status. Again, your university should be able to help by providing the necessary documentation.

7. How do I find people to live with?

Living in shared accommodation can be a great experience and an opportunity to make friends for life. Some accommodation providers such as UNITE offer a list of preferences when students make a booking and they will do their best to match them – this might be living in an all male or all female flat or living with vegetarians.

If you are planning to live with friends, think carefully about the qualities that you value in a housemate. It helps to pick people with similar interests, or someone from your course, that way you always have some common ground.

Many of UNITE's properties feature purpose built studios - an ideal option if you like your own space but also want to be close to other students and make new friends.

UNITE provides safe and secure, quality accommodation that is purpose built for students. With a range of living options available in 23 cities across the UK, there’s something to suit everyone.

Students can browse, arrange a viewing and book a room online by visiting unite-students.com or find out more by calling 0800 783 4213.

UNITE is a founding member of the ANUK Code of Standards for Larger Developments. The Code aims to facilitate good relationships between property owners, managers and tenants. Being member of the code is part of our commitment to providing students with first class accommodation.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Year 1 Teacher

£12 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require a year ...

Primary Teacher - Hull

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Are you a flexible and inspiratio...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried