Help and Advice

Independent housing advice on all aspects of housing in university accommodation and the private sector.

Getting a Good Deal

Before you start looking, think about what you have to pay and what you can afford.  You will be responsible for paying:

  • Your rent and possibly that of your housemates - look out for joint liability!
  • Deposit – and this has to be protected
  • Utility bills - if not included in your rent
  • Administration and other charges - depending on the contract

Once you know your budget, don’t be afraid to negotiate.  Remember, there’s an over-supply of places, so students control the market.

How much rent will I have to pay?

Rent levels will vary depending on where you choose to live, when you sign, and what’s included in the rent.  You can pay anything from £50 per week for a room, up to £130 per week for a studio apartment.  

Unipol publishes average rents for different property types and areas.

The average rent in a Unipol Code shared houseis £69 per person per week (not including bills).

Work out the weekly rent as a yearly figure to check your loan will cover it. 

E.g £69 per week x 52 weeks = £3588

Remember that the landlord will expect your first rent payment to be paid before you move in, so you'll need plan to have the money ready in May/June.  

The Student Advice Centre can help with budgeting advice.

Tips:

  • Keep in mind that how much you pay does not necessarily relate to the quality of landlord or standard of accommodation. 
  • Remember, you can negotiate before you sign a contract.  You’ll be paying a lot of money over the year, so you can expect good quality accommodation.
  • Check what’s included in the rent
  • Always check the tenancy agreement before signing to make sure it matches what was quoted.
  • Check for any administration charges in the contract.  Some contracts leave you having to pay £20 here and £45 there for anything from late rent payments to getting locked out of the property.  If you think these are unfair, get a contract check before you sign.
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What will be included in the rent?

Agreements vary widely so it's important to check your specific agreement carefully.  Your payments might include:

  • rent only
  • utility bills (gas, electric, water),
  • internet
  • extras such as gym membership

Do the sums with all inclusive deals – they don’t always work out cheaper.

Do I have to pay rent over the summer?

You’ll have to pay the rent from the date the contract starts.  If you’re not going to be in Leeds over the summer:

  • Ask your landlord about a summer rent reduction.  Get this written into the contract.
  • Consider waiting until later in the year to find a place.  In October 2012, Unipol still had 2,366 bed spaces displayed on their system.

How do deposits work?

Most landlords ask for a deposit when you sign the contract.  This is usually around one month’s rent.  The deposit is your money but your landlord can make deductions from the deposit if you or your housemates don’t pay the rent or damage the property.

Tips:
  • Don't pay a deposit until you have signed the contract. 
  • Get a receipt and keep it safe.
  • Once you’ve paid a deposit, most landlords will have to protect the money in a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days.  Make sure your landlord gives you the details of what scheme they’ll be using when you sign up.
  • Be very wary of any landlord saying they are not taking a deposit but instead want higher administration charges or higher advanced rent payments. They might be trying to avoid their legal obligations to protect your deposit.
  • Check out our deposit pages for more information.
  • Use Shelter's tool to check if your deposit is protected.

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Do I have to pay a signing fee or anything else up front when I sign?

Some landlords or agents charge a signing or administration fee, but many do not.  Landlords and agents can charge fees when you sign, but they should be clear about these in advance. 

The Advertising Standards Authority has recently ruled that landlords and agents must make fees clear in property adverts.  If they don't you can make a complaint.

If you aren’t happy with the charges, you can negotiate or walk away before you sign.  Remember, there is a surplus of bed spaces and, despite what some landlords say, not all landlords charge signing fees.

Should I pay anything before I sign?

Be wary of paying a ‘holding deposit’ or any other admin payments before you sign.  If you choose not to take the property you could lose the money.

So, don't agree to pay any fees until you've definitely decided to sign.  For example, landlords shouldn't expect you to pay anything if you're taking the contract away for checking.

It is a criminal offence for a letting agent to charge you just to register or to supply details of accommodation.

How much will I have to pay for bills?

Check your contract to find out whether bills are included or not.

If bills are not included:

The cost can vary widely depending on various circumstances, including:

  • how many people are sharing
  • your suppliers
  • how much you use (e.g. thermostat settings)
  • whether the property has double glazing
  • whether the property has good insulation

As a rough estimate, if you're living in a shared house, you'll probably be looking at paying at least £15 per person per week.

Tips
  • Ask the current tenants what they’re paying.
  • Don't put your name on the bills until you move in or you could end up paying for the landlord’s usage over the summer if they are doing work.
  • Check out our money pages for more info on keeping utility costs down when you move in.
If bills are included:
  • Make some comparisons with other rents – all inclusive deals are likely to cost more, as the landlords will allow enough usage to ensure that they get enough money. They may also charge to cover admin. On the plus side, you won’t have the bother of setting up accounts.
  • Make sure you know what happens if you use more or less than the landlord has allowed for - will you pay more, or get a refund?  Check the contract for any clause allowing the landlord to increase payments if the bills go up 
  • Still take meter readings when you move in and out in case there are any disputes
  • Make sure that your name is not on the bill, or you will be potentially held liable if the landlord does not pay the bills.
Energy Performance Certificates

By law your landlord has to show you the Energy Performance Certificate when you look around.  Page 1 shows a table of approximate prices for utility bills for that property, allowing you to easily compare different houses.

Note: the prices are based on assumptions about how many people are in the house and their daily routines.  These are likely to be much lower in energy use than ‘student lifestyles’, so bear this in mind.

How do I get the best deal?

It can be daunting to negotiate with landlords and agents if you haven’t rented before (or even if you have!) but following these simple steps will help you get the most for your money: 

How to negotiate effectively
  1. Decide as a group what your maximum rent is. Check out our advice on making a budget.
  2. Make sure you know the average rents in each area.
  3. Check out the winners of the landlord awards to find out which landlords/agencies are really valued by their student tenants.
  4. Househunt! Take a checklist with you and view your favourite properties twice to make sure you find somewhere right for you.
  5. If you’re in a group then pick one person to be the negotiator. Decide at what point you’d take the property or walk away.  
  6. Negotiate with the agent/landlord to get a bargain.  Remember, with a surplus of bed spaces in the market, students are in a strong negotiating position, so just ask!  
  7. Get any changes written in to the contract (with completion dates if relevant) and get a contract check.
Ideas for negotiating
  • Is the rent above the average? If so, is it worth it?
  • Ask for a rent reduction and/or no signing fees?
  • Why pay for a house you’re not living in? What about summer rent discount or a later start date?
  • Get extra appliances or services included?
  • Think carefully about free gifts or ‘special offers’- are these really a good deal compared with how much rent you’re paying?

In summary Make a budget, take the time to compare a range of places, be critical, don’t be afraid to negotiate, and get a contract check!

We want to hear your experiences! If you got a great deal, tweet us.

We make every effort to ensure information on these pages is accurate and up to date, however policies, procedures and regulations are subject to change. We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience suffered as a result of using our pages. Read the full disclaimer.

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