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 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.

England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'