1. Accommodation
  2. Private accommodation
  3. Plan your search

Plan your search for private accommodation

Once you decide to search for private sector housing, it’s important to take some time to plan what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. This page will give you some useful tips on how to get started with looking for your new home.

The City Accommodation team has joined the University of London Housing Services (ULHS) so that they can give you comprehensive advice, on-line housing guides, access to the ULHS Housing Database and Housing Advisors for legal advice. City students will also be able to attend the annual ULHS Housing Fair which takes place around the first week in May (Please note that the Housing Database is updated with new properties on the same date as the Housing Fair in the first week of May).

The ULHS Private Housing Guide can be downloaded or viewed online - an extensive guide to aid your private housing search.

Please read the ULHS Private Housing Guide and then if you need further information on how to look for housing in London, contact the ULHS Private Housing Advisors on +44 (0)20 7862 8880 or email them at (their offices are open from 10am-5pm Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri and 11am-5pm on Tues).

Why look for private accommodation?

Living in your own house will open a whole new world of experiences. You'll now be able to keep your house how you want it, without hassle from cleaners and resident staff and security. There are a variety of reasons why students may choose to stay in a private house or a flat. Below are some of most common features of living in a privately rented accommodation.

  • You can choose who you want to live with, ideal if there is a group of friends wanting to stay together
  • You can choose your own accommodation depending on your budget. Accommodation in the private sector can be a cheaper option than some halls of residence
  • You can choose your own location. You can choose to stay close or farther away from the City campus
  • Have unlimited friends and family visit or stay overs

Before deciding on where and who to live with, think carefully about exactly what you are looking for.

  • Decide whether you wish to live alone or with others
  • Which area do you want to live in?
  • How much time are you willing to spend in commuting to City?
  • Remember variations in rent levels depend on facilities provided at the property and its location
  • When budgeting for accommodation, remember to allow for bills - gas, electricity, water and telephone
  • Consider what your transport routes to City will be and how much this might cost you

When to look for housing

The student housing market is a fast paced environment with students from different institutions competing for the most affordable and modern properties during the busy summer periods.

The cost, location and standard of student accommodation can vary considerably, so decide your priorities before you start to look. Your decisions may be motivated by many things, such as cost, security, transport and closeness to campus.

In the vast majority of cases, private accommodation in London is only advertised a few weeks prior to it becoming available. Hence, if you are intending to move into a property at the beginning of September you will need to start looking during August. Unfortunately, this means you will be looking along with the majority of students studying across the whole of London.

Right to Rent

Following the introduction of new laws in April 2016, landlords are required to check that tenants are legally resident in the UK and therefore have a "right to rent" before letting out a property to them.

For further information please read our Questions and Answers on "Right to Rent".

A guide to London rents and transport fares

London is big and exciting, but finding the right place to live in London can be difficult. Accommodation is expensive but London's size and diversity means there are plenty of suitable flats and houses students can rent. If you are unfamiliar to London have a look at the ULHS Area Guide before deciding where to live.

Please see the Transport for London (TFL) website for more information, Current Fares and a Journey Planner.

The areas listed below are popular with many City, University of London students and are listed along with an estimation of rental prices you can expect to encounter in the areas.

Borough of Islington (Inner North London):

Angel, Archway, Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Highbury, Holloway, Kings Cross, Newington Green, Camden.

Borough of Hackney/Tower Hamlets (Inner East London):

Shoreditch, Hoxton, Haggerston, Homerton, Clapton, Dalston, Stoke Newington, Bethnal Green, Bow, Limehouse, Shadwell, Whitechapel.

Borough of Southwark/Lambeth (Inner South London):

Borough, Walworth, Bermondsey, Camberwell, Dulwich, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Clapham, Stockwell, Vauxhall, Waterloo.

Borough of Haringey (Outer North London):

Tottenham, Turnpike, Wood Green

Borough of Newham (Outer East London):

Beckton, Canning Town, East Ham, Stratford, Upton Park, West Ham

More information can be found on the Greater London Authority website

Which accommodation type to choose?

There are many accommodation options available to you as a student. Before you commence your search, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the different accommodation types and terminology you will come across in your search. Below are listed some of the most common types of accommodation.

Halls of residence

Halls of residence are where most students live during their first year of university or college. They're a great place to start life as an independent student because you're in your own place but still have a support network of peers and City staff around you. Staying in halls of residence offers the benefits of not having to pay large deposits, there is a standardised contract and a choice of different living environments. You can opt for an all-inclusive studio room with your own kitchen and bathroom or you may like to socialise others by choosing to share the kitchen and bathroom facilities with other students.

Halls of residences fall into two categories: City managed halls and privately managed halls.

City-nominated halls of residence

Usually located close to City, have discounted rental fees, shorter contract lengths and are exclusively available to students from a City, University of London. Please see our City nominated halls section for information on halls available to City, University of London students.

Private halls of residences

Private halls of residences are open to students from all London universities and higher education institutions. There are many private halls of residences offering a wide range of accommodation to suit different budgets and are available all over London. Compared to the halls associated to City, University of London, private halls may have higher rental fee and longer contract lengths - always ensure that you read through your contract carefully before you enter an agreement with a private housing provider, especially the cancellation policy.

Shared house

The term shared house is quite self-explanatory, and indicates rental of a room within a shared house of other students or tenants. Students staying in shared property enjoy a greater degree of independence and flexibility compared to staying in halls of residences these include being able to set your own house rules, invite friends and family to stay over and organise house parties.

Staying in a shared house is a great option for students who are in their second year or final year of their course. Having made friends in your first year renting a house or flat could be the ideal option many students.

As much as sharing a house with friends can be great fun, it is important to choose your housemates wisely. Once the reality of cleaning chores, paying rent and utility bills comes into effect some of your friends may not share the same commitment as you.

Please see our Find your accommodation page for sources of finding accommodation in London and our contracts and legal section for vital aspects to consider when letting in the private sector.


Homestays is a type of accommodation where you let a room from a local host family and live as part of their household. The accommodation is normally cheaper than renting a room in a shared flat or house as you share facilities with your host family. Homestays appeal to international students and student moving away from home for the first time as they allow you to live and learn the local lifestyle and language in a unique way. It is often described as a "home away from home". Examples of homestay providers in London are HFS London and Supportmatch to name a few.


Studio apartments are self-contained accommodation with private kitchen, lounge and bathroom facilities. Studio apartments are ideal for a single person or a couple, giving you privacy and freedom to maintain the property as you see fit. Studio apartments are usually more expensive in relation to other types of student accommodation.

Choosing a studio flat means you might be able to afford living in the popular part of a city and be within walking or biking distance of City. Studio flats tend not have much floor space, which means you need to be careful in deciding what items you would like to have in your flat, suiting those who like minimalist living.

One-bedroom flat

Similar to a studio, but these have a separate bedroom and they often have a separate kitchen.  Very suited to a couple as they can be rather expensive just for one person.

Room-only and en-suite

Many students who are on a restricted budget opt to rent a room only in a shared house or flat. A room only provides the most basic facilities usually only access to the bathroom and involves living in the property with the landlord/lady or other tenants. An en-suite indicates access to a private bathroom.


Room only in a shared property with a kitchen area in the room.  Shared bathroom facilities.

Viewing properties

Once you have found a property you are interested in, the next step will be to view it. Please read the section about viewing properties in In the ULHS Private Housing Guide. 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. Travel cards 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 from Phone shops, and some larger supermarkets.

It is advisable when you view the property, to do so as if you were travelling back from City. Ask yourself whether you would feel safe walking back to the property late at night?

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.

Don't feel pressurised into signing anything immediately - go away and have a think about it, and arrange another visit if necessary.

Accommodation for couples and families

There is no accommodation for couples or families at City - all rooms are for single occupancy only.

The University of London has family housing in International Hall which City students can now apply for.  The applications for 2017/18 will open in May and the annual deadline for Applications is around 5th July - the exact dates will be advertised in due course on the ULHS website.

There are some private student housing providers who provide accommodation in London for couples and families. These have not been viewed or formally approved by City, University of London and you would need to contact these housing providers directly for more information. You can plan your search and get started on finding your perfect accommodation.

You may also wish to consider private housing. There is a private housing database to help you find your accommodation.

Ideally you should consider travelling to London by yourself before your studies start, to secure accommodation in London and then bring your family afterwards.