House party


If you are moving to university, it is likely that you will be renting a property for the first time. This guide will give you an insight into what to expect and help to ensure that your tenancy runs smoothly. There are free downloads to take advantage of too, like our 'Property Viewing Checklist', which will assist you in finding the best property to suit your needs.

Before you start looking

Decide what you can afford before you start house hunting. Remember you will have to budget for gas, electricity, water, internet and a TV licence, as well as food and general household items. One of the bonuses of being a student is that you don’t have to pay council tax for your house. However, bear in mind that should you decide to live with non-students you will be required to pay council tax.

Choosing your housemates
Disagreements between housemates are a common problem in shared houses. Conflicting lifestyles and personality clashes can cause misery and more stress around exam time. Remember, you are signing a legally binding contract and will not be able to simply walk away. As a group you will also have to decide on how to split and share responsibility for bills. More info...

Think about your own lifestyle and what you would like in a housemate, for example reliability with money. If you are an early riser who prefers a quiet and tidy house, don’t choose to live with a messy party animal—a fun friend isn’t necessarily a good housemate.

When to look
Availability varies from area to area. Get in contact with your local ARLA Propertymark Protected letting agent for advice on the best time to start house hunting in your area.

Accommodation search

Choosing a letting agent
Not all letting agents are regulated and rogue agents can cause you stress and loss of money. Use our ‘Find an Expert‘ search to find your nearest ARLA Propertymark Protected letting agent. Our letting agents have to maintain standards throughout their properties, and we regularly monitor the way that they handle deposits and rent. Look for the ARLA Propertymark Protected logo on letting agents’ websites, letting boards and office windows. More info...

List the important stuff
Start looking early and be prepared to compromise. What are the deal-breakers: Number of bedrooms? Parking spaces? Proximity to campus? Our Property Viewing Checklist will help you. Download...

Most universities have well-known student residential areas—ask around. If you don’t have a car, consider proximity to campus and public transport links. If you are driving, is parking available? Do you need a parking permit?

The contract

Tenancy agreements 
The most common type of contract for students is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST); for tenants in Scotland you will have a Private Residential Tenancy (PRT). The names of all tenants will probably be held ‘jointly and severally liable’. This means even if someone leaves, you are all legally responsible for all of the rent—not just your own portion of it.

You may also be asked to provide a guarantor who accepts legal and financial responsibility should anyone fail to pay their rent. Read the contract carefully as it contains everything you can and can’t do. If you agree a repair with your landlord before you move in, make sure it is added to the contract before you sign it.

Tenant fees ban

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force in England on 1 June 2019. The Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Wales) Act soon followed and came into force on 1 September 2019 for agents in Wales. Tenant fees were already banned in Scotland since 2012.

It is now illegal for letting agents to charge fees to tenants apart from a small number of exemptions—referred to as permitted payments. More info...

Holding deposit

A holding deposit is a refundable payment of a maximum of one week’s rent to reserve a property. Your holding deposit may be retained if you:

  • Pull out
  • Fail a Right to Rent check
  • Provide false or misleading information
  • Fail to take all reasonable steps to enter into the tenancy

Agents must give you a minimum of 15 calendar days to enter into a tenancy agreement. If you enter into the agreement, agents must refund your holding deposit within seven calendar days. You may also choose for this to go towards the first month’s rent or the tenancy deposit.

Your tenancy deposit

Your landlord or letting agent is required by law to register your tenancy deposit with a government-backed scheme within 30 days of you paying it. They must also give you the details of where the deposit is being held. More info...

The deposit is refundable unless you have damaged the house, its contents or not paid the rent. Make sure an inventory is completed and take photos yourself of even the most insignificant damage before you move in. Get your photos (and any damage) acknowledged in writing by the letting agent. This could save your deposit at the end of your tenancy. More info...

Protecting you and your money

Client Money Protection (CMP)
All ARLA Propertymark Protected letting agents are covered by CMP. This means should your letting agent go bust or misuse your rent, deposit or other funds, we will reimburse you. More info...

Agency charges
By law all fees must feature on a letting agent’s website, in branch and on all third-party websites such as social media and property portals, e.g. Rightmove and Zoopla. Look for details of all fees that will or could be incurred.

Problem with the house?
All letting agents are required to sign up to one of two redress schemes: TPO or PRS. This means that if you have a dispute with your agent, it can be referred for free to a neutral expert for resolution. More info...

Safety certificates
Ask to see a Gas Safety Certificate and energy performance certificate (EPC). Landlords are not required to do annual electricity checks but do need to ensure safety so ask for records of any electrical inspections.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Without an HMO licence the property may not be safe for the landlord to let the property. Search HMO licence and your area to find out what is needed where you are.

Moving in

Contact energy suppliers and buy a TV Licence
Notify the utility companies that you are moving in—give them the gas and electricity meter readings, your move in date and the names of all the tenants. This ensures that you share responsibility for the payments. You may also need to purchase a TV licence, go to to find out if you need a TV Licence.

Arrange insurance say one in three university students are victims of crime each year. Items such as laptops are essential for university life, so it is important to get cover. Some students may be covered by their parents’ contents policy however, don’t assume this is the case. Continuously back up your work—if there is a break-in you will not want to deal with the loss of all of your work as well.

During the tenancy

Report any problems/damage as they happen and keep copies to prove that you reported it. If a reported hazard is not resolved within a reasonable time-frame, you may need to take further action.

When you leave for breaks consider leaving heating on low to ensure that pipes don’t freeze. Check the terms of your contract (AST) as you could be liable for the repairs if they do.

Arrange insurance say one in three university students are victims of crime each year. Items such as laptops are essential for university life, so it is important to get cover. Some students may be covered by their parents’ contents policy however, don’t assume this is the case.

Moving out


Leave the property in the same condition as the day you arrived. Contact your letting agent at least one month prior to your moving out date. They will explain the process for reclaiming your deposit. More info...

Contact energy suppliers
Notify the utility companies that you are moving out and give them your gas and electricity meter reading so they can issue your final statement.



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 Find an Expert

Find an Expert

Search for a Propertymark Protected expert to ensure your rented home is in safe and reliable hands. More info...