Will I have to pay a deposit?

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You will normally be expected to pay a deposit and one month's rent in advance. Your deposit should be returned to you when you leave your accommodation, as long as you have kept the place in good shape. Expect landlords to deduct at least some of it for cleaning purposes; they will always find something to charge you for!

From April 2007, landlords and property companies have to store your deposit in a government scheme called the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, to protect you (the tenant) from being ripped off. Find out more about how the scheme works here.

What questions should I ask the landlord before signing a contract?

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It's important that you discover from your landlord or university exactly what you are getting for your money. Ensure you find out:

  • How long is the accommodation available for? If you are doing a long course you may not want to move after your annual contract is up. 
  • Do you have to leave your accommodation during the holidays? Many universities make special arrangements for international students and will provide space for you to store your belongings if you have to move out. 
  • Are bills included in the price of rent? Is the room/flat furnished? You will usually be provided with a bed and cupboard, but be expected to bring your own kitchen utensils and bed sheets. 
  • How far is the walk to campus (if you are in private accommodation) and is the area safe? Remember, in the UK it gets dark early in the winter. 
  • How secure is your accommodation? If it's a private residence, is there an alarm?
    For apartment buildings, is access via a keycard only or can anybody walk in? 
  • Is there an area to store rubbish, and on what day is it collected? 
  • Is there public transport nearby? 
  • If you are staying in a building, is there a curfew?

If the landlord promises to make repairs when you view a house, ensure he puts this in writing. If there is a garden, find out who is responsible for its upkeep.

What if I have a family?

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If you are bringing family with you to the UK, consider their needs well in advance, and find out whether the accommodation you are applying for is suitable. 

Do not turn up with your family to the UK if you haven't arranged accommodation for them in advance, as this will cause problems not only with your university but also the authorities. That said, having a family shouldn't mean you have to miss out on the international experience. 

Who should I live with?

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Before you meet your new potential housemates, draw up a list of issues that are important to you, and ensure they are willing to discuss them.
It's important to discuss:

- How you will split and pay for external bills, including gas and electricity (for example, will you set up a shared house account, or will you each pay cash to one person whose account the direct debits are paid from?)

- Whether you will share food (otherwise don't be surprised if everyone helps themselves to whatever is in the fridge!)

- Whether anyone has specific dietary requirements (vegetarians may be reluctant to share plates and utensils with meat eaters.)

- What are they like around the house? (for example, do they like to share cooking duties? And, just as importantly, will they help wash up afterwards?)

- What their favourite pastimes are (for example, are they party animals who go out drinking until the early hours of the morning?...and, if they are, do you mind?) Similarly, assess whether they are likely to be noisy (this can be bad for postgraduates doing a lot of studying at home).

- Remember that, now you're, away from your own family and friends, your new housemates are your easiest way into a new life and culture ask yourself honestly whether you are a good match. Share living frustrations openly and divide chores up equally. There's nothing worse than coming home from a long day of lectures to find last week's dirty dishes piled up in the sink.

How do I pay for my student accommodation?

Foreign Students's picture

Make sure you have sufficient funds in your account on the date the rent is due, as many operate on a direct debit basis. You will usually be expected to pay for university-owned accommodation at the start of each term, whilst private accommodation is deducted monthly.

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