Finding the right accommodation in your budget is very important and there is a variety of accommodation available to suit most people.
When looking at price not everything will be ‘like for like’ and you will need to consider the following if you are comparing prices.
Length of contract – If you have been in catered University accommodation you are likely to have been on a term time only contract of 32 weeks, while we tend to see longer contracts of 48 weeks in the private sector. It can seem a shame to be paying for rent when you won’t necessarily be living there but you won’t be able to get private accommodation just for term time.
Bills included – Obviously if bills are included in the rent, we would expect that the overall rent will look higher. If bills are included, make sure that you have checked the contract for information about any possible usage cap. Bills included will be common in purpose built student accommodation. If bills are not included, you could look at Split the Bills website to get an idea of the average cost or see if you can ask the current tenants. Some PBSA’s even include gyms which could work out economical for you.
Location – It is very likely that they closer the accommodation is to campus, the more expensive it will be. While this is important for lots of people, if you're willing to consider areas outside of the immediate vicinity of campus, you could get more for your money.
Quality and Type of accommodation – Obviously the nicer your accommodation the more expensive this is likely to be. Try to stick to your budget to avoid money worries later on down the line. Lodger arrangements can be cheaper, and flats or studios will always be more expensive.
Energy performance – If you are looking at renting in a house or flat rather than a PBSA you should be given the energy efficiency rating of the property. It also provides details on how much it will cost you to heat and light the property and what the carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be. It is now illegal for a landlord to let a property which has an EPC rating below E, unless they have applied for an exemption.
Study from Home – Chances are this will be cheaper as hopefully family will be charging you less or no rent than a landlord. You may need to factor in higher travel costs, depending upon how close you live.
Damage deposit -
Your landlord should have put your damage deposit in a deposit scheme which is independent and external to the tenant and the landlord. (most commonly mydeposits https://www.mydeposits.co.uk/ or The Tenancy deposit scheme https://www.tenancydepositscheme.com/ )
Holding deposits are capped at one week’s rent; Security deposits will be capped at five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000 and six weeks’ rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or more;
The landlord/agent is required to say if they intend to take any deductions from the deposit and then give you option to disagree with this.
This is not the case if you are in a lodger situation or in a Purpose build student accommodation.
Exeter community Law clinic have produced a short video on deposits and fees that may be useful
Purpose built student accommodation tends to be the most expensive with the cheapest at around £119 a week and the most expensive £340, however the average seems to be around £185.
Private rental shared houses can vary depending on location and quality but expect to pay about £450 -550 a month.
I don’t know what I can afford
Don’t worry, for the majority of our students this will be the first time that they have had to consider working with a budget. It is simple and there are lots of resources out there to help you. You will need to look at what you have coming in (usually this is maintenance loan), help from parents or part time work or savings and then look at what you have going out. Setting aside an amount for food, transport etc and then looking at what you have left. If this is all new to you, have a look at this Save the Student article which has lots of useful information about budgeting.
I am being asked to send money before seeing the property, is this OK?
Never transfer any money without seeing the property. We advise using Student Pad and registered agents and housing providers. We are aware of scams on sites such as Gumtree.
Often scams will try and lure you in with an amazing offer and then ask for you to transfer money often using services such as Western Union or moneygram before seeing the property. If something doesn’t seem to ring true contact you are welcome to contact the Advice team firstname.lastname@example.org
I am being asked for a holding deposit, is this OK?
Some agents will ask for a holding deposit. This cannot be more than a week’s rent. The holding deposit should be returned when you sign the tenancy agreement or used as payment towards your tenancy deposit or rent in advance. Before paying a holding deposit you should have written confirmation stating all of the details regarding the money, giving clear advice when and how the money would be returned and what criteria allow the money to be kept and not be refunded.
I am being charged a fee to apply, is this OK?
No! New legislation came into effect to prevent landlords and agents over charging tenants with fees. Have a look at our rights section if you would like to know more click here.
For more information about The Tenant Fee Act, please see this guide from trading standards to find out what you can and can’t be charged.