Many students prefer to live in private accommodation as this allows you:
- to live with a group of friends
- to live with a partner or children
- to enjoy a greater degree of independence and flexibility
- to choose a property to suit your budget.
Priority for University accommodation is given to first year undergraduates and postgraduates, which means the majority of returning students and students who apply for accommodation from around July onwards are encouraged to seek accommodation in the private sector due to limited rooms available in halls.
City has linked up with www.StudentPad.co.uk which provides an interactive web-based facility for private sector accommodation. StudentPad acts as an independent adviser and provider of information on private sector accommodation. The aim of StudentPad is to help students find the right property that is most suited to their needs as quickly and easily as possible.
The Accommodation Team at City run private accommodation workshops throughout the academic year. The workshop offers practical information and guidance to students intending to live in private sector accommodation.
This is an annual housing event for students looking for accommodation in the private sector. The Accommodation Fair attracts a wide range of exhibitors from local letting agents and private halls of residence to insurance agents who are all available on the day to provide you with a host of information on private sector accommodation. The 2013 Accommodation Fair will take place in the Northampton Suite on Friday 22 February 2013.
On this website you can find useful listings providing contact details for private halls of residence, letting agents, hotels and hostels, and a glossary of housing terms. Please note, City University London does not formally recommend or endorse the organisations contained within the listings, you are therefore advised to carry out your own research and make judgements as you feel necessary before committing yourself to a particular property.
Finding somewhere to live
First, think carefully about exactly what you are looking for:
- Decide whether you want to live alone or with others.
- Which area do you want to live in?
- How much time are you willing to spend commuting to the University? Consider what your transport routes to the University will be and how much this might cost you.
- When budgeting for accommodation, remember to allow for bills - gas, electricity, water and telephone.
- Remember variations in rent levels depend on facilities provided at the property and its locations.
City University London is situated in the heart of London and student accommodation close to the University tends to be rather expensive. The London travel zones range from zone 1 (Central London) out to zone 6. There is little accommodation available in central London for large groups or families and therefore the majority of students will live outside travel zones 1 and 2.
Visit this interactive website which compares rents across the Capital. The site shows the average rents for private accommodation for each postcode area, as well as giving a range of advice for tenants.
In the past students have lived in the following areas which generally have cheaper rental levels compared to properties located in zone 1. Living in these areas will usually entail 30 to 45 minutes travelling time to the University:
E1 Whitechapel, Stepney
E2 Shoreditch, Bethnal Green
E3 Mile End, Bow
E5 Hackney Central
E9 London Fields
Locations near City University London:
EC1 Barbican, Clerkenwell
N1 Islington, Angel, Kings Cross
N4 Finsbury Park, Harringay
N5 Highbury, Canonbury
N16 Stoke Newington
NW5 Kentish Town.
Wherever you decide to live in London there will be positive and negative aspects but it is useful to assess an area by visiting it during the day and at night, by picking up a local newspaper or by consulting friends or other students who have lived in that area before.
Prices for accommodation in London can vary considerably but students should expect to pay between £100 and £250 per week depending on the size of the room, the facilities offered and the area in which the property is located. See our advice on the cost of living in London.
Some private halls of residence will cost more than this, however the fees usually include utility bills, internet, and contents insurance; and due to their proximity to City, there would not be any travel costs.
You can calculate your budget using the Student Calculator. Just input your funding and approximate expenditure and it'll work out a budget for you.
The question of when to start looking for accommodation depends on the kind of property you want to live in. If you are looking for a place in an independent student hostel or private hall of residence you may need to apply months in advance. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a flat/house or a room with a resident landlord, you will not normally be able to arrange this more than four to six weeks in advance of moving in.
You are not advised to enter into a commitment on a property unless you are actually in London and have viewed it first-hand. Since you will be competing for properties with lots of students from other London institutions, it would be unwise to leave your search as late as September.
There are many places where you can start to look for accommodation in London, such as message boards, newspapers, websites and letting agents.
Message boards are very popular with students looking for accommodation or looking to meet new people to share accommodation with. Using an interactive message board is a good way of getting to know your future flatmates before viewing a property or agreeing to a formal contract.
City University London has linked up with StudentPad which provides an interactive web-based facility for private sector accommodation. StudentPad acts as an independent adviser and provider of information on private sector accommodation. The aim of StudentPad is to help students find the right property that is most suited to their needs as quickly and easily as possible. You can search the database for available accommodation, view the Message Boards (link located at top of StudentPad page) to find both flatmates and rooms (and can add your own message). Finally you can view Housing statistics showing the average prices in the areas local to the University from the properties advertised on the site. Use the StudentPad website.
Other websites that can help you find flatmates and shared houses include:
Please note that properties on these websites have not been vetted by City.
Local newspapers can be purchased from local newsagents and free copies may be available in local libraries. Classified advertisements, usually at the back of the newspaper, contain information on cheap rooms, flats and houses for rent in the local area. View Islington Council's local newspaper online.
Loot is a classified advertisement paper and website listing thousands of business and private advertisements across hundreds of categories. Anyone can place an advert through the UK call centre or at www.loot.com, and the advert will appear online and in the Loot publications. You will find both rooms and whole properties advertised and you will need to be based in London to be able to view them. Loot is a very popular place to advertise and is published three times a week. There are many other websites that allow you to conduct property searches online based on location and price range. Some of these are: Time Out magazine, Homes and Property, Findaproperty, Rightmove, Primelocation and Ukpropertyshop.
Please note that there are lots of different terms used in these papers to describe the various features of the property so please view our helpful glossary of terms.
Local supermarkets and newsagents usually allow members of the public to place an advertisement on their notice board or on the shop window. These advertisements are not always up to date, however they are an easy way to advertise and it is possible to find yourself a bargain property.
A letting agent is a UK term used for a middle person through whom an agreement is made between a landlord and tenant for the rental of a private property. The vast majority of private accommodation in London is advertised through a letting agent (also known as an estate agent).
You can register with a letting agent who can keep you updated on current vacancies as well as handle your deposit and rental fees. Most letting agents do not charge you for registering with them, however some agents may ask for a small administration fee to cover the costs of arranging a tenancy agreement, but they should not charge you for viewing a property. Good letting agents will have a discussion with you to identify your budget, the type of accommodation you require and arrange any property viewings for free.
Please note that many letting agents will first show you properties that have been on their lists for some time so make clear to them exactly what kind of property you are after and keep in regular contact with them so that they keep you in mind when new properties are registered with the agency.
There is a wide choice of letting agents in London you can register with. The vast majority of reputable letting agents are accredited by professional bodies such as Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
For your convenience, we have put together a list of London letting agents that are currently (or have previously) worked with City University London students and staff. The list is viewable here.
There are organisations such as Homestay and Hosts International who can arrange for a student to stay with a UK family. You pay a weekly fee to live in a family environment, and can arrange with the family the type of meal plan you prefer.
There are a lot of students in their final year who will be leaving their accommodation once their courses finish over the summer. Ask around, you may find the perfect place - and the current students could recommend you to the landlord, saving time for you and for them.
Once you have found a property you are interested in, the next step will be to view it. In this section we will look at the steps you should follow when viewing a property and some of the common problems to look out for. We strongly advise that you should arrange to view private accommodation prior to signing any legal agreement on the property.
Most students start looking for accommodation during the summer period and arrange to move into the property in September.
For every student viewing properties in London the following three items are a must:
- A comprehensive street & travel map of London
- A travel card covering the zones in which you will be travelling
- A mobile phone.
You can find an A-Z of London map in bookshops and some newsagents. Oystercards or Travelcards can be purchased from any Underground station and remember students qualify for discounted travel. You find pay-as-you-go SIM cards for mobile phones in phone shops and some larger supermarkets.
It is advisable to view a property as if you are travelling back from the University. Ask yourself whether you would feel safe walking back to the property late at night?
Keep safe - if you are going to view properties arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you, or at least make sure a friend knows where you are going and how long you are likely to be.
It is also important to pay particular consideration to the following features of any property that you view. From the general look of a building you can tell whether the landlord has looked after the property - and you can always ask the current residents about the landlord.
- What is the general condition of the property on the outside - is there sufficient lighting outside the building?
- Are there any broken doors, windows or rotten window frames?
- What do they have in the way of security at the building?
- Is there a central refuse collection point for rubbish?
- Do you notice any rodents or pests outside the building?
- Are there enough facilities provided for those sharing the house (for example, bathrooms)?
- What is the general condition of the property inside - are the main doors secure?
- Are the windows draught-proof - is there any damage to the windows?
- What type of heating is in the property?
- When was the last time gas and electrical appliances were inspected?
- What is the condition of the furniture within the property? - Check which items belong to the property and which items belong to current tenants.
- Are all the cupboards, fixtures and fitting well-maintained?
- Can you spot any damp or mould in the property?
- Are there any loose or faulty wires where electrical appliances are kept?
- If the property is on a main road, open the window and check how noisy it is.
Do not feel pressurised into signing anything immediately - go away and have a think about it, and arrange another visit if necessary.
Contracts and money
The tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. The tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both you and your landlord, for example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord's right to receive rent for letting the accommodation.
You and your landlord may have made arrangements about the tenancy and these will be part of the tenancy agreement as long as they do not conflict with UK laws. Both you and your landlord have rights and responsibilities given by law. If a term in the tenancy agreement gives either you or your landlord less than your statutory rights, that term cannot be enforced.
City University London Students' Union is providing a contract checking service. Please contact the Students' Union reception to book your appointment on +44 (0)20 7040 5600.
In almost all student tenancies, there will be a rent to be paid. Rent is the payment you are bound by contract to make to your landlord for exclusive use of the property you are staying in.
Before moving in, you should check the following:
- How much rent is payable and when is the payment due? Is the rent to be paid weekly or monthly?
- What does the rent cover? Does it include bills such as gas, electricity, water, telephone, internet connection etc.?
- How should the rent be paid? You may be asked to pay by cheque, cash, credit card, standing order or direct debit. If you are requested to pay by cash make sure you are provided with a written receipt of your payment.
- Check your tenancy agreement thoroughly for any clauses where the rent can be increased.
- Some Landlords ask for a guarantor. This is someone close to you (friend or family) who will agree to pay your rent if you do not pay it. Please note that if you sign a joint-tenancy agreement, for example if you and some friends move into a property together and sign the agreement together (so that you are all liable for each other's rent), this also could mean that your guarantor will be liable for the other rents in the property too. Please note that some landlords will ask for a UK-based guarantor, and unless you have a close friend or family in the UK who can act as this, you will be unable to take the accommodation. City University London cannot act as a guarantor for privately rented accommodation.
Once you have found a property that you are interested in, you may be required to pay a deposit. Most private landlords ask you to pay a deposit to cover any costs caused by damage to the property internally or externally. Landlords also use the deposit to cover any outstanding rental fees.
From time to time the issue of deposits and non-return of deposit by landlords at the end of the agreement is a major source of dispute and friction.
To resolve some of these disputes and disagreements a scheme called the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS) was introduced by the government in April 2007. This scheme was introduced to significantly improve tenants' rights and ensures that their deposits are not unfairly withheld. The scheme also provides a service to sort out disagreements about the deposit without going to court.
Tips to help you protect your deposit:
- Before you pay any type of deposit, ensure you ask the landlord what the deposit covers and when the deposit will be returned to you.
- Ensure you get a written receipt of any money you pay and ask the landlord which tenancy deposit scheme the landlord will be using.
- Within 30 days of you paying a deposit, your landlord must give you details of the scheme they are using to protect it.
- It is also important that you and your landlord agree, in writing, what condition the property is in when you start renting it, including a list of the furniture and fittings (known as an inventory). This should help prevent disagreements at the end of the tenancy.
Tenancy deposit protection schemes
You can contact the schemes to find out if your deposit is protected. Each scheme can only provide information about deposits that it is protecting. It will not be able to tell you if your deposit is protected in another scheme.
The custodial scheme is called The Deposit Protection Service. Most small landlords will probably use this scheme. You can contact the scheme by calling 0844 472 7000 or visiting the website at www.depositprotection.com.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is an insurance-based scheme, aimed mainly at letting agents. You can contact the scheme by calling 0845 226 7837 or visiting the website at www.thedisputeservice.co.uk.
'Mydeposits' is an insurance-based scheme, aimed mainly at landlords. You can contact the scheme by calling 0871 703 0552, visiting the website at www.mydeposits.co.uk or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about tenancy deposit protection can be found at www.directgov.gov.uk.
You should get your deposit back within ten days if you and your landlord agree about how much you should get back. The way this works and what happens if there is a disagreement, depends on the type of scheme your landlord is using. If there is a disagreement, make sure the landlord and the deposit scheme have your contact details. If you are staying in a hall of residence, you may have to wait up to 28 days to get your deposit back.
It is reasonable for your landlord to take money off the deposit to cover, for example, damage to the property or furniture, or missing items which were listed in the inventory.
If you are still not happy, then you can contact the following for more advice:
The Citizens Advice Bureau gives free, confidential, impartial and independent advice to help you solve problems. Find your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.
What is Council Tax?
Council tax is a system of local taxation collected by local authorities. It is a tax on domestic property. Some property is exempt from council tax.
Who has to pay Council Tax?
Usually one person, called the liable person, is required to pay Council Tax. Nobody under the age of 18 can be a liable person. Couples living together will both be liable, even if there is only one name on the bill. This applies whether the couple is married, cohabiting or in a civil partnership.
If you live in halls of residence, or in a private property where everyone is classed as a full time student for Council Tax purposes, you'll be exempt from paying Council Tax but you will need to provide proof of this in the form of a letter (from either your department or the Student Centre) and forward this to your local council in order receive this exemption.
The rules are different if you live with someone who is not a full time student but your household could still get a discount. Usually, the person living in a property will be the liable person but sometimes it will be the owner of the property who will be liable to pay.
The owner will be liable if:
- The property is in multiple occupation, for example, a house shared by a number of different households who all pay rent separately; or
- The people who live in the property are all under the age of 18; or
- The property is accommodation for asylum seekers; or
- The people who are staying in the property are there temporarily and have their main homes somewhere else; or
- The property is a care home, hospital, hostel or women's refuge. If you think that the owner of the property should be paying the Council Tax, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Contact details for the local council in Islington are as follows:
222 Upper Street, Islington, London N11 XR
If you wish to find information on Council Tax and other public services in your local area please visit the Directgov website.
These are houses occupied by more than one household and are strictly defined in legislation. We often know them as bedsits, flat-lets and shared houses.
Under the changes in the Housing Act 2004, there are two types of HMO licensing: Mandatory and Additional.
Mandatory HMO licensing applies to all privately rented property with three or more storeys occupied by five or more people who form two or more households. This would usually include large houses converted into flats or bedsits and blocks of flats. The landlord has to ensure that there are adequate amenities (such as kitchens, toilets and bathrooms) in place for the occupants. A household could be a single person or members of the same family living together. This includes couples and close relatives.
Do all shared houses get extra protection under the law? Your landlord will have extra responsibilities if the house or flat you're living in is defined as a 'house in multiple occupation', or HMO for short. It's likely to count as an HMO if: three or more unrelated people live there as at least 2 separate households - for example, 3 single people with their own rooms, or 2 couples each sharing a room • the people living there share basic amenities - like a kitchen and/or bathroom. An HMO can be either: a house split into separate bedsits, a shared house or shared flat, where people have separate renting agreements, a hostel, a bed-and-breakfast hotel that isn't just for holidays, shared accommodation for students - although many halls of residence and other types of student accommodation owned by educational establishments aren't classed as HMOs. It's not always easy to work out whether or not the place you're living in is an HMO. Talk to your local council if you're not sure.
Additional licensing is when a council individually imposes a licence on HMO for which licensing is not mandatory. This may be because of poor management or inadequate amenities in the property.
If there are three or more people living in a flat or building and they are not related, such as a shared student house, the building or flat may be classified as an HMO.
If a property has an HMO licence, the Landlord has a responsibility to ensure:
- The property is not overcrowded and there are adequate amenities for the tenants;
- The property is managed correctly, including using a deposit scheme if a deposit is collected from you;
- The property is free from hazards that might affect your health and safety.
If you are unsure whether the property you are renting is an HMO or you feel that your house is overcrowded and/or has inadequate amenities for the tenants, you can seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or your local council.
What is repair?
Repairs are work that is needed to keep the property in good condition internally and externally.
Who is responsible for repairs?
In most cases the landlord is responsible for any repair work that is needed to keep the property in good condition. However, you should check your tenancy agreement for terms of repair which is not covered by the landlord.
In general the landlord is responsible for repairs to: roof, walls, floors, windows, baths, showers, toilets, basins, heating and gas appliances.
Telling your landlord about any repair works needed
- If you feel that repair works are needed in your property you should put this in writing to the landlord.
- Keep copies of all letters you send and also receive from your landlord.
- Do not attempt to repair anything yourself - you could get blamed for the damage and/or cause further damage.
Your landlord does not have right to enter your home without your permission unless it's an absolute emergency. If your landlord wants to come and inspect the property then they need to provide you with at least 24 hours' notice.
If your landlord agrees to have repair work done in your property, they should carry out all the necessary work without causing disruption to your daily routine. The landlord should also tell you in advance when the work will start and when it is likely to end. In the event the repair works require you to vacate the property then your landlord will need to find you alternative accommodation while the work is being carried out.
As a tenant by law you should use the property in a responsible manner. This means ensuring general cleaning is carried out throughout the house. Do not allow your guests to damage the property. If you or your guests cause any damage to the property the landlord can take court action to recover the costs of repair or seek termination of your contract through an eviction order.
If you have written to your landlord regarding a repair but you have not had any response or the repair work is not carried out, you can then take the following actions:
- You can contact your local Consumer Protection Services who are a part of your local Trading Standards Office in your local borough. Your local Trading Standards Office can investigate your complaint and they can also take legal action against your landlord. Your local authority will contact your landlord and express your concerns. In some instances the local authority will carry out the work and pass on the charge to the landlord. Find out more about the role of Trading Standards.
- You can also request an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to inspect your property. The EHO works within the Environmental Health Service in your local council. This service aims to improve living conditions in the poorest private rented housing in the borough through working in partnership with owners and where necessary by enforcement. The EHO can recommend to your landlord what works are needed and any actions that may be taken against the landlord if the works are not carried out. Find out more.
If you feel that your landlord is neglecting your request for essential repairs you have the right to take further action through a County Court. Before you decide to take legal action you should seek professional advice from a solicitor.
If you need help to pay for any legal action you may be entitled to Legal Aid to help with the cost of going to court. Legal Aid helps with the costs of legal advice for people who cannot afford to pay for a solicitor or pay for other expert legal advice.
Financial help from Legal Aid depends on:
- The type of legal problem you have
- Your income (how much you earn) and how much capital (money, property, belongings) you have
- Whether there is a reasonable chance of winning your case
- Whether it is worth the time and money needed to win.
You should never withhold your rent or use your rent to carry out repair work yourself. This can lead to more problems which can result in the landlord taking you to court for rent arrears.
The Gas Safe Register replaced Corgi as the organisation responsible for gas safety in Great Britain from 1 April 2009.
All landlords are responsible for the safety of their tenants. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 specifically deal with the duties of landlords to ensure that gas appliances and fittings provided for you are safe to use.
All Gas Safe registered engineers carry a Gas Safe Register ID card. Always check the front and the back of the card before having gas work done. Ensure that you check for the following information on the engineer's ID card:
- The licence number
- The start and expiry date
- The security hologram
- The work the engineer is qualified to do
- Up-to-date qualifications.
- Ensure appliances provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition
- Ensure an annual safety check is carried out on each appliance
- Ensure maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered installer
- Keep a record of each safety check for two years
- Issue a copy of the safety check to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and to any new tenant before they move in.
You should allow your landlord access to the property to carry out maintenance or safety checks on appliances.
Gas appliances you own should be regularly maintained and a safety check carried out at least once every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered installer. If there is any doubt about the safety of gas equipment it should be turned off and not touched until checked by a Gas Safe registered installer.
If you smell gas or suspect there may be a leak in your property you should act immediately and take the following steps:
- Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room. Get fresh air immediately. Do not turn on lights or smoke/light a cigarette.
- Switch off the appliance and do not reuse until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Shut off the gas supply at the mains (if you know where this is).
- Visit your GP or the hospital immediately.
- Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out the necessary repairs to the appliance.
If you smell gas and are unsure as to what do then call the Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999 or in an absolute emergency call 999.
Partying, smoking and drinking are often part and parcel of a student lifestyle but could put you at a higher risk of fire. Safety awareness should not stop when you get home.
Here are a few tips to ensure your safety in the home:
- Fit a smoke alarm on each level of the property and test it weekly.
- Do not leave cooking unattended and be extra careful when using oil.
- Take care when smoking inside (if you are allowed), and make sure that your cigarette is extinguished before you go to bed.
- Keep candles and incense away from flammable surfaces, never leave them unattended and make sure they are extinguished before you go to bed (the same applies for barbecues).
- Do not overload plug sockets. Turn off electrical equipment when not in use.
- Secure portable heaters against a wall so they do not fall over. Keep them away from curtains and furnishings and never dry clothes on them. Do not leave them unattended - switch off when not in use.
- Know your escape route - make sure you and your housemates know the quickest way out of the property and consider alternative routes in case the usual one is blocked.
- If you lock doors and windows, make sure the keys are near to hand and all the housemates know the importance of keeping them in that location.
Your landlord must:
- Maintain wiring and electrical appliances provided in the property, to ensure they are safe to use (which means it is up to you to make sure that your own belongings are all safe, too).
- Make sure that any provided furniture and furnishings meet the fire resistance regulations.
If you are worried about your rented accommodation there is more information on the Gov.uk website.
Remember - If a fire starts, get out, stay out and call 999.
The term 'summer accommodation' means accommodation available from mid-June to mid-September.
Please note that City does not have any summer accommodation of its own, however City nominated halls Liberty Court and Alliance House both let their rooms independently over this period. Please contact the halls directly for information on how to book this accommodation.
There are thousands of hotels and hostels in London. If you plan to stay for long period of time, though, the best option would be to contact a private hall of residence and see whether they have any availability. Many of the halls will have students wishing to leave early and so will be glad to let the room to another student for the remainder of the licence or can arrange a short licence for you.
If you plan to arrive in London prior to the start of your licence agreement in halls (and you are not able to move into the hall early) or wish to book a room for a few days while you look for private accommodation, then it is advisable to book a room as early as possible in a hotel or hostel.
Please note that due to the Olympics being held in London during July and August 2012, accommodation near the Olympic site may be fully booked. London has a fantastic transport service and it may be cheaper to find accommodation away from central London and travel in, or search for hotels located away from the Olympic sites.
There is no accommodation for couples or families at City. If you are married or have children you are advised to come to London on your own initially until you have found somewhere suitable to live. Housing staff at the Student Centre will be happy to advise you should you require assistance. If you require somewhere to stay while house hunting, temporary accommodation may be available for individuals in halls during the summer vacation period, subject to room availability.
There are some housing providers who provide accommodation in London for couples and families. Please note that these have not been viewed or approved by the University and you would need to contact these housing providers directly for more information. See: www.zebrahousing.com, www.ish.org.uk, www.goodenough.ac.uk.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, you may find yourself having to move quickly out of your accommodation. Firstly ask family, friends and colleagues if you can stay temporarily with them while you find alternative housing, however if this is not possible, there are a few options you can explore online: england.shelter.org.uk, www.nosecondnightout.org.uk, www.ymca.org.uk.