International Advice

University housing, some other long-term housing, and most temporary housing can be arranged in advance, before you travel to the UK. Some other long-term housing can only be arranged after you come to the UK.

To plan your housing, make sure you understand your options and your deadlines, and:

•           what you want

•           what you need

•           what you can afford

•           what you will compromise on

Student housing

Housing arranged by your college or university is normally in large halls of residence (normally just called “halls”). It is common for the halls to be owned and managed not by the university but by a commercial provider who has allocated some (or all) of the rooms to your university for student housing.

Many larger cities have private halls or student villages which are not allocated to specific universities. Students can book directly with the company that manages the housing.  In many ways they are very similar to university-managed halls, but often with a higher level of services, furnishings and facilities, and a more expensive rent.

Most student housing is divided into shared flats (apartments) where a group of students (typically 5 or 6) share a kitchen/social space, in which they can prepare their own meals. Each student normally has a study bedroom for their own use.

Older-style university halls have rooms off a continuous corridor with communal space provided for all residents, normally on the ground floor.  They may offer shared (normally twin) rooms, but these are no longer common except in cities where housing is expensive (for example, London and Edinburgh) and they offer a considerable cost saving.

Study bedrooms normally have an en suite bathroom, or in older-style halls you may use a shared bathroom. In both cases, the bathroom will have a toilet, wash basins and a shower, but it may not have a bath tub.


Student housing is usually mixed, with male and female students sharing the building or flat, but having their own private study bedroom.  Some universities may have a limited supply of single-sex housing options.

Most student housing provides an internet connection, either through the university server or with each student having their own individual contract with a commercial provider.  Utility costs (energy and water) are normally included in the rent and the contract will state this.

Differences between student housing and other private housing

Even if your first instinct is to choose student housing, do look at all your options before making a commitment.  Living in private housing can be rewarding and give you a real sense of life in the UK, and it is highly likely that any contract you sign for university housing will be for the full academic year with limited opportunity for changing your mind.

This is a summary of the differences between student housing and living in a shared house or flat in the private sector.


Student housing 
(based on a single room in a shared flat of 4/5)

Shared house or flat
(based on a single room in a shared house of 4/5)


May look more expensive but is likely to include some or all utility bills and possibly some other services

May look cheaper but is likely not to include some or all utility bills

Gas, water, electricity

Nearly always included (96%)

£10.50 per person, per week (approx)


Usually included (82%, 50% include Wi-Fi)

£1.15 per person, per week (approx)

Payment methods

Flexible - often a number of ways to pay

Often negotiable (eg monthly or quarterly payment terms on request)

Insurance (basic cover)

Usually included (80%)

£2 per person, per week (approx)

Contract length

Standard contract until June or September

Standard contract until June or September

Opportunity to move

May be possible to move to other managed housing if there are vacancies

Generally not possible to change accommodation (unless you find a replacement)

Pastoral Care

May have wardens or a reception desk

Usually no pastoral care


May be possible to choose the people you share with

Possible to choose housemates


Often there is a service to remove rubbish and clean communal areas

Usually no cleaning service provided

Waste disposal

Often there is a service to remove rubbish and clean communal areas. 
Bins will be provided on site, normally in a central location

Your rubbish will be collected either weekly or fortnightly by the local authority.  Ask your landlord for details

Accessibility of landlord

Usually management office on site. University housing will have a Housing Office on campus



Usually a security presence and regular security patrols, sometimes 24-hrs a day

Generally not available

Repairs and maintenance

There may be a formal commitment to getting repairs and maintenance done within specified timescales

Varies, but if your landlord is part of a recognised accreditation scheme it is likely they will be working to agreed timescales


Other housing

Not all students live in student housing. There are other options.

Sharing a house or flat

Students often choose to rent a private flat or house, living off-campus and separate from the university's own halls of residence or other student housing.

Small groups of students also often rent flats and houses where their neighbours are not other students, but the local community of workers, families, and others.  You will usually have your own study bedroom, and a shared kitchen and bathroom. Sometimes, the student residents have a joint contract with the landlord, and are jointly responsible for the rent and for keeping the property clean and tidy. Landlords will normally offer individual lets (where you are only responsible for your room and your share of the communal areas) so if you would prefer this you should ask the landlord.

In this type of housing the rent is unlikely to include internet costs and utility charges and you will pay these directly to the provider.


Bringing a family

It takes several weeks for newly-arrived students to find suitable family housing.

It may be easier for you to initially come to the UK alone, and stay in temporary, single housing while you look for a family home. Once you have found longer-term housing for yourself and your family, your family can travel to the UK.

If you do all travel to the UK together, make sure you have enough money to cover the high costs of temporary family housing. Your institution can advise what this may be.

Requirements for students with families will vary, but, as a guide, these are the kinds of factors which students with families attach importance to when looking for suitable housing, compared to single students:

•           housing made safe for children

•           a location close to healthcare services, childcare provision, schools, parks/play areas, bus routes, supermarkets, car parking, parent and toddler groups, ante-natal classes and other forms of local infrastructure that can support family life and reduce the risk of isolation for non-studying parents

•           a quieter location, removed from undergraduate residences

•           a stronger emphasis on the quantity and quality of social space

•           a stronger emphasis on the quality of study space

•           longer-term housing contracts

•           affordability

Right to Rent

Landlords in England are required to check their tenants' immigration status before granting a tenancy agreement, to make sure that the tenant has a 'right to rent'.  You have a right to rent if:

  • You have current immigration permission to be in the UK, for example a Tier 4 visa or a Short-Term Student visa; or
  • You are an EEA/Swiss national; or
  • You have the right to be in the UK under EEA law (for example because you are the family member of an EEA/Swiss national); or
  • You do not have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but you have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government (this only applies in exceptional circumstances).

Exemptions from ‘right to rent’ checks

Additionally, you will not be subject to a right to rent check if any of the following points apply to you:

  • You live in an exempt property. This includes student halls of residence; accommodation owned and managed by a higher or further education institution, or a body established for charitable purposes only; and accommodation that you have been nominated to occupy by such an institution, or charitable body.
  • You are under 18 when you enter into the tenancy agreement; you will remain exempt until the landlord's next set of checks are due, even if you turn 18 during this time.
  • You are not using the property as your main or only home in the UK.
  • The landlord is your immediate family, such as a parent.
  • You are a guest in the property, you do not pay rent to stay there and it is not your only or main home in the UK.
  • The property is holiday accommodation, such as a hotel, and you will be staying there for only a short period of time.


The evidence needed of your right to be in the UK

If you are subject to a right to rent check then your landlord, (or the property agent if you are not dealing directly with your landlord), will need to see original evidence of your right to be in the UK:

  • EEA / Swiss nationals
  • Passport or national identity card
  • Family members of EEA / Swiss nationals
  • EEA family permit or residence card
  • People with immigration permission to be in the UK
  • Passport containing a valid visa, or a valid biometric residence permit (BRP). If these documents are with the Home Office as part of an ongoing immigration application (or you have a pending appeal or administrative review) then you should give your landlord your Home Office reference number so that they can verify this with the Home Office.

Your landlord (or property agent), should take a copy of these documents and return the originals to you.  If you arrange your accommodation before you arrive in the UK then your landlord (or property agent) will check your right to rent before you move into the property.  A right to rent check cannot be carried out more than 28 days before you enter into a tenancy agreement with your landlord.

If you have limited immigration permission to be in the UK

If you have limited immigration permission to be in the UK then your landlord must check your immigration permission again after 12 months, or before your immigration permission expires, whichever is later.  If your right to rent expires, for example if you become an overstayer, then your landlord will report this to the Home Office. Your landlord is not required to evict you but the Home Office may take action against you.