Help and Advice

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

This page includes tips and FAQs for international students and postgraduate students who are looking for accommodation.  You may also be interested in the information on our general housing pages.

There is plenty of good quality student accommodation in Leeds so there is no need to feel pressured into signing up for something you are not sure about.  If you can't find the answer to your question here, please contact Student Advice using the details on the right.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to find accommodation before I arrive in Leeds?

There is a lot of spare student accommodation in Leeds (over 5000 spaces). We don’t recommend signing for accommodation without seeing it first.  Once you sign a contract, it is often impossible to get out of it even if there are problems with the property.

Can I book short term accommodation?

Short term accommodation is often available over the summer (and sometimes at other times) from University of Leeds and Unipol.  

You can also search online for cheap hotels if you need a place to stay for a few days when you arrive.

Where do I start looking?

We recommend using Unipol’s property search where you can compare a wide range of properties from many different landlords.  

If required, you can used the advanced search function to select properties specifically recommended for postgraduate tenants.

If you would like help searching for properties you can visit Unipol’s bureau at 155-7 Woodhouse Lane or the Unipol outlet on Level -1 of Leeds University Union (see opening hours for both).  

You can also apply for University accommodation.

How do I find family accommodation?

See our advice here.

If you have not yet arrived in Leeds, it is often advisable to come to Leeds early to arrange accommodation before your family joins you.  This will save costs for temporary accommodation

How do I find people to live with?

Unipol regularly organise house hunting events and mixing days.  You can contact Unipol to check the next event.

You can use Unipol’s student-to-student noticeboard to find housemates.

Tip: if you are living with other people, check if you will be signing a joint or an individual contract.  Make sure you are happy to live with them for the duration of the contract.

How do I find a trustworthy landlord?

Many landlords are good people but some are only interested in your money and think it is easy to exploit international students.  

We recommend signing with a Unipol Code landlord.  These landlords have voluntarily agreed to meet higher standards and you can complain to Unipol if the standards are not met.  Code landlords are shown in blue and green on Unipol’s property search.

See which landlords are recommended by students by checking out the winners of the Leeds Landlord Awards, which include specific awards nominated by international and postgraduate students.

Read more about finding a good landlord.

If you ever have problems with your landlord, you can contact Student Advice for free and confidential help.

What are the best areas to live?

Students live in many areas of Leeds, with Hyde Park, Woodhouse, Headingley and Burley especially popular.

The property search function on the Unipol website will show you a map of available properties meeting your search criteria.

Check out the area guides prepared by LUU’s Community Reps.

Are some areas safer than others? 

Check out the Knowledge website for all of the information you need on staying safe in Leeds, including crime stats for different areas.

We recommend visiting an area at night before deciding to rent there.

Make sure you check out the security features on any property you are viewing.

If you have safety or security concerns at any time you can contact Student Advice.

How much will my accommodation cost?

Rents can vary widely depending on what’s included and whether you are sharing.  For example, you might find a cheap shared house with no bills included for £60 per week or you could pay up to £180 per week for an all inclusive studio flat in ‘luxury’ style development.

Family accommodation from University of Leeds and Unipol is generally cheaper than the private market. For an idea of the average weekly rent in the private sector, check Leeds City Council's local housing allowance rates.

Unipol publish information on average rents for different areas and property types.

We offer advice on budgeting if you need help working out whether your income/funding will cover your rent and other costs of living in Leeds.

Always check the contract to see what is included in the rent (e.g. is it rent only or does it include things like water, gas, electric, internet or TV licence?)  You can read more about utility payments here.

Will there be other costs besides rent and bills?

Sometimes.  You need to check carefully for other costs before you agree to sign.

Check if you have to pay a signing or administration fee.  This should be displayed clearly in the property advert.  Some landlords charge up to £200 but many good landlords don’t charge these fees so we recommend asking to reduce or remove them.

Check if you have to pay a deposit.  This is usually around one month’s rent.  Check what deposit protection scheme the landlord will use.  This is a legal requirement.

Check if the contract allows the landlord to make any additional charges.  If you aren’t sure whether these are fair, contact Student Advice.  We offer a free contract checking service.

Should pay money before I sign?

No.  If you hand over money before agreeing to rent a property then it can be difficult to get the money back if you change your mind.  

Good landlords will not ask you to pay anything before you sign the contract.

Unipol Code landlords are not allowed to take money off you before you sign a contract or agree in writing to rent the property.  If they do, you can complain to Unipol.

Do I have to pay lots of money up front if I can’t provide a UK-based guarantor?

Some landlords ask for a guarantor (someone who agrees to pay if you don’t) and will only accept UK-based guarantors.

If you can’t provide a guarantor, some landlords will ask you to pay a large amount of rent (e.g. 6 – 12 months) up front instead.  If you are thinking of agreeing to this, make sure you can afford it.  Make sure you are definitely happy with the landlord and the property, and that you want to rent it for the whole time. 

Many landlords in Leeds do not require a guarantor and will be happy for you to pay in smaller instalments.  We therefore recommend shopping around and asking landlords what they require.

Should I get advice before signing a contract?

Yes.  This is strongly recommended.  Contracts are legally binding and often impossible to get out of once you have signed. 

Student Advice offers a free contract checking service. Make sure you read the contract carefully first and make a note of any questions.

Unipol Code landlords must let you take the contract away for 24 hours before signing. They should not let the property to someone else while you are doing this.

Good landlords will want you to understand what you are signing so be wary of any landlord who is pressurising you into signing a contract too quickly.   

What do landlords have to do?

See our page What Your Landlord Should Do and our tips section below.

If you are having problems with a landlord, contact Student Advice.

What are my responsibilities when I am renting?

See our page What You Should Do and our tips section below.

If you are not sure if you are allowed to do something, email your landlord and ask.  Keep a copy of their response.

What can I do to protect myself from problems or untrustworthy landlords?

There are lots of great landlords in Leeds and many students have a great renting experience.  To make sure you are protected, we recommend avoiding:

Agreeing to anything you are not sure about without asking the Student Advice Centre first.

Agreeing to anything without putting it in writing, signed and dated.

Being pressured into signing for a property you know is not right for you.

Renting with people you are unsure about.

Being too trusting – while most landlords are good people, even people from your own country can sometimes do or say wrong things.

Can I sublet a property from/to another person?

Subletting is where a tenant rents out a room or property to someone else.

We do not recommend subletting as the legal position can be complicated.  Subletting is prohibited by many tenancy agreements.

If you are thinking of subletting to or from another tenant, we recommend speaking to Student Advice first.

Can I ask for the contract to fit in with my term dates?

Many student landlords offer 12 month tenancies that run from 1st July to 30th June the following year, which doesn’t always fit in with the dates for postgraduate courses.

You can ask landlords to offer different tenancy dates and some will be happy to negotiate on this.  Make sure the dates are clearly shown on the contract.

My contract is ending but I want to stay longer.

First speak to your landlord.  They may be happy for you to sign a new ‘fixed term’ agreement or stay in the property on a rolling contract.

If your landlord doesn’t agree or says they will charge a fee for extending the contract, contact Student Advice to discuss your rights and options.

If you need to move temporarily, short term summer lets are often available from the University and Unipol.

Tips and situations to avoid

Here a general summary of what you should do and tips on what to avoid doing:

Before you sign a contract you should:

Check that the landlord is a member of the Unipol Code.  This means they will probably be a reasonable landlord and will mean you have more help if they are not.

Ask the landlord or agent which Tenancy Deposit Scheme they are going to use. This is a legal requirement. To find out how this works visit our deposits page.

Make sure you are happy with any people you will be living with.

View the property carefully to make sure it is in good condition and has everything you need.  We have checklists available and other tips here: Finding a Good Place

If any big repairs are needed or the property is damp, don’t take it.

Make sure all extra agreements for improvements or rent reductions are written into the contract.

Speak to the current tenants and see what they think of the landlord.

Read the contract carefully and take it away for a contract check at the Student Advice Centre.

Remember that once you sign a contract it is too late to make changes, cancel the contract or get your deposit back if you change your mind.

You should not sign a contract:

Without seeing the property and until you have seen the exact property you will be living in. If the landlord says it’s ‘the same’ as yours, don’t sign.

Unless you are sure you want to stay in the property and can pay the rent until the end date on the contract.

Without getting your contract checked by Student Advice if there is anything you don’t understand.

Situations to avoid:

Renting from another tenant in the property. This is called ‘sub-letting’ and is probably forbidden in the contract.

Moving into a property without having your name on the contract. It could be a lot easier for the landlord to evict you.

Renting your own room, or part of it, to another person without the landlord’s written agreement.

Renting a room in a council property either from the council or a tenant. You could be evicted and could lose your visa.

Agreeing to share a room, unless it is clearly designed for two people.

What you have to pay - make sure you:

Check whether the rent includes any other bills.  If it doesn’t try to ask the current tenants how much they pay for utility bills (these can be over £10 per week).

Calculate what you have to pay for the whole year, including rent, bills and deposit. 

Check whether you can afford everything you have to pay under the contract – if you need help then we offer budgeting advice and tips on Getting a Good Deal.

You should not pay:

Any money to the landlord or agent before you sign the contract. You should not pay to secure the property in case you change your mind.

More than one month’s rent as a deposit (in general).

More than £40 ‘signing fee’ (the best landlords do not have one at all!).

The deposit to somebody unless you are absolutely sure this is the landlord or agent and their name is on the contract.

Money to another tenant in the property - it should always go straight to the landlord.

Getting the keys and moving in

You can get the keys on the date your contract starts. Each tenant should be given keys.

The landlord may be allowed to refuse to give you the keys if any rent or deposit money is due. Check your contract and seek advice if you have problems.

The landlord should also give you the burglar alarm code (if there is one) and details on how to work the central heating.

Contact the utility companies with names of all tenants and tell them the dates you are moving in and out.  Give them meter readings from the day you move in and out.

Read the meters and send readings to the utility company straight away. Make sure everyone in the property has their name on the bills.

Get a television licence (which costs £145.50 for a year). It is a criminal offence not to have one and you could be fined over £1,000. 

Any problems when you move in?

Tell the landlord straight away. You can do so by phone but make sure you email as well so you have evidence, otherwise it could come out of your deposit.

Take photographs for evidence.

Remember, the landlord only has to provide what has been agreed in the contract.

Give the landlord a reasonable time to do any work, 24 hours if it is an emergency or five days if it affects your comfort.

If the previous tenants have not moved out, contact the landlord straight away. The landlord may have to give you alternative accommodation until they move.

If you feel you cannot move in contact the Student Advice Centre for advice. If you pay for a hotel or sign for another property you could lose a lot of money.

When living in the property you must:

Keep the house and garden clean and tidy.

Tell the landlord in writing as soon as anything stops working or needs repairing (keep a copy of all letters or emails).

Always put complaints in writing, with dates.  Email is fine.

Keep paying the rent until the end of the contract.

Pay rent on time or you could have to pay charges. If you can’t pay on time tell the landlord, who may allow you to pay late.

Put the dustbins out for collection on the right day. Use the recycling bin properly.  You can check your bin day here.  

Turn off the water supply if you go away in the winter to stop the pipes freezing.

Clear food out of the sink so it does not get blocked.

Ask the landlord if you are allowed to stick pictures on the walls, even with Blu-tack, as this can leave a mark and the landlord could make you pay for redecorating the whole wall. If they say yes, confirm in writing.

Situations to avoid:

Stopping rent because of disrepair. The landlord can take you to court for not paying your rent even if you feel you are entitled to compensation. Get advice first.

Making any changes to the property unless the landlord has agreed in writing. This can include decorating, hanging pictures or fixing satellite dishes.

Need more help?

Student Advice - open 9.30 to 5pm weekdays, all year round.  Call into our office on Level 1 of LUU, phone 0113 380 1290 or email advice@luu.leeds.ac.uk

Here is a general guide to renting in England, published by the UK government.

Shelter - a national charity that provides housing advice.

Unipol - a student housing charity in Leeds.

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.

Back to top