Do I have to pay a retainer over the summer?

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It is common practice that you will be expected to pay rent over the summer, even if you choose not to stay there during that period. Find out which landlords or estate agents are affiliated with your institution. If your university is prepared to recommend them, then they should be trustworthy.

Note that letting agents may charge you for reference checks, for drawing up contracts and for placing you with your student accommodation (usually up to two weeks rent), but they cannot charge you for simply showing you around the place!


When should I begin my search for accommodation?

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Start searching for student housing as soon as you have been accepted onto your course of study. If you need to search for your own accommodation, you should be fine if you look for available properties from June to July, as term is finishing.

However, be aware that many eager undergraduates in their first year will start looking at private accommodation much earlier, meaning that a lot of the best housing closest to university campuses will be snapped up very start looking as early as you can!

Many students looking for residential housing (independently managed) wait until the August or September before their course starts. However, the sooner you are able to look, the better chance you'll have of securing your ideal accommodation, and the more at ease you'll be about arriving in an unfamiliar country. 

How can I arrange for the supply of utilities?

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If you live in university residence halls, private halls and host family arrangements, gas, electricity and water are likely to be provided as part of the rent. Private housing, however, usually requires that you give the details of gas and electricity meter readings to the suppliers. Your landlord can instruct you on how to do this. Although some suppliers might provide cheaper services than others, most tenancy agreements do not allow residents to pick their own suppliers.

What is council tax?

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The council tax is charged by public authorities on residential properties  in order to finance local services. Full-time students are exempt from paying the council tax. Non-students and part-time students over 18 years are required to pay, although they may qualify for discounts. Partners and other dependants of UK students are also entitled to tax reductions. For specific information regarding the council tax, visit the official council tax website.

How can I find private housing in the UK?

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Many students in the UK decide to rent private property instead of living on university campus. Even before you arrive, you should research locations and select the areas where prices are reasonable based on your budget.

Properties in an area are advertised by specific agents, whom you should contact to arrange viewings upon your arrival.  It is wise to visit a few properties before making a decision, so that you can compare prices, locations and property conditions. Some students find it useful to rent a property for a short term whilst they search for a longer term house.

When you find a place you like, you are ready to make an offer. The agent will usually ask for references from any previous landlords, so bring contact details of places where you have lived before, if at all. The agent will then ask for a first payment to take the property off the market, and this money will be returned to you if the landlord ultimately rejects your offer. If he does agree, you will have to pay a deposit and provide proof of address, and you will be all set.

It is worth noting that universities offer valuable help to students searching for private housing. Institutions often have their own database of properties, offered at lower rates. They can also recommend specific agents and even review your tenancy agreement to make sure you are entering a fair contract.

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