Whether you choose to live in on-campus or off-campus accommodation recommended by the University of Suffolk, or choose to source your own accommodation in the private rental market, you may find the information below very useful when renting accommodation.
The information below may be particularly useful if you are renting for the first time. This guide provides an overview of tenancy agreements and deposits, providing you with useful “need to know” information.
- Research your options; don’t just settle for the first accommodation you find. You will be the one living there so make sure you are happy with your choice before you make a booking.
- What can you afford? Remember to budget enough for food, transport, text books and materials for your course, and entertainment. Don't spend all your finance on accommodation if you have no other sources of income.
- Always view the accommodation where possible. No one knows what you are looking for better than you and viewing the accommodation yourself can make all the difference.
- Save for your deposit and advanced rent payments so you do not have to wait on your student finance coming through before you can move in. Your landlord will tell you the amount due and when you must pay it by.
- Check the tenancy dates. You won’t be able to change the dates once you’ve signed the tenancy agreement. Check your timetable so you can book an appropriate length tenancy.
- Read through the tenancy agreement in full before you sign it. A tenancy agreement is a legally binding document. Make sure you understand and agree to be bound by all of the terms and conditions and get assistance if you do not understand any of it. See the Glossary of Terms below for more information.
- Check your chosen accommodation has all of the facilities you require: accessibility, ensuite, laundry facilities, security, parking, near shops, near the University, near public transport.
- Is there a cancellation clause or cooling off period? Under what circumstances would you be released from the tenancy agreement or be entitled to a refund of your deposit if you have a change of circumstances?
Financing your Accommodation
Accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense you have whilst at university so it is important to get it right. It will be your second most important expense, after food.
It is normal to expect to pay a deposit and advanced rent prior to moving into your accommodation. Four weeks rent for a deposit and 4-6 weeks rent for advanced rent is normal, but landlords can charge more; the exact amount payable in advance will depend on the room and property you choose to book.
Many students will need to pay their deposit and advanced rent before their first instalment of student finance is due to them. We strongly recommend that students plan for this and save for their deposit/advanced rent over the months leading up to the start of their tenancy agreement.
Students moving away from the parental home may be entitled to a more substantial maintenance loan from Student Finance England; see their website and online calculator for more information. Getting an idea of how much funding you are entitled to may be useful in helping you decide what accommodation you can afford.
Glossary of Terms used in accommodation
Tenancy: A contract between tenant (student) and landlord (note: not the University of Suffolk). This is likely to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) or license. Make sure you read through the tenancy agreement in full and agree to all of the terms and conditions before signing. Once signed, a tenancy agreement becomes a legally binding document fo the duration specified, regardless of your student status. You will not normally be able to end the tenancy earlier than the end date specified in the agreement, unless there is a break clause or you are able to find a suitable replacement tenant to take over the remainder of your contract. Always get a tenancy agreement in writing; never rely on a verbal contract.
Rent: Accommodation is likely to be your biggest expense. Your rent will be your second most important bill, after food. Check you can afford your preferred accommodation before you book - allowing enough money for other expenditure. Utility bills and internet access will be included in your rent if you choose to live in Recommended or Accredited Accommodation, but if you choose to rent privately, you should check if these will be included or additional to your rent. If it is additional, you might want to see if you can get an idea of how much it might be. A sum of advanced rent will likely be payable before you move into your room. Your landlord will be able to confirm the amount required and to date it will be due to be paid once you have chosen your specific room.
Deposit: Normally paid by the tenant to protect the landlord against any breakages or damages to the property (excluding fair wear and tear) that may occur during the tenancy agreement. Sometimes used to reserve a room and give the landlord some guarantee that the tenant will take the room. Once the tenancy ends, both landlord and tenant will discuss if there have been any breakages/damages that the tenant is liable for and the rest of the deposit (or all, if there are no breakages/damages) will be returned to the tenant. The deposit is sometimes referred to as a holding/damage deposit. Check with your landlord what it will be used for, how much it is, and under what conditions it is refundable (if any). The landlord must protect the deposit in one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes and provide you with the details of the scheme used.
Inventory: This is a list of furniture/other items in the property. A tenant should be asked to complete an inventory with the landlord at the start of the tenancy. Be sure to record any missing items, or marks/damage that is visible. Both the tenant and the landlord should keep a copy to revisit at the check-out inspection at the end of the tenancy agreement.
Private Rental Market
The University of Suffolk will only recommend accommodation that has been inspected by Ipswich Borough Council and meets our standards of quality and safety. Read more about the University of Suffolk Accreditation Scheme here.
There are other companies that will advertise student accommodation that do not have University of Suffolk Accreditation. Make sure you investigate these properties thoroughly; the University of Suffolk cannot comment on the standard or suitability of non-accredited accommodation. For independent advice on what to look out for and the right questions to ask click here.
If University of Suffolk Recommended and Accredited Accommodation is not for you and you choose to arrange your own accommodation elsewhere, you will find a variety of online property search engines and lettings agents that advertise accommodation that may be suited to your needs. Local publications may also have regular or periodic housing sections and supplements detailing local agents and vacancies. Please note, not all landlords are prepared to accept students which means you may need to search a little longer than a non-student in finding your perfect property in the private rental market.
Independent advice can also be obtained from the following resources:
- University of Suffolk Students' Union Advice Centre
- NUS Housing Advice
- Citizen’s Advice Bureau – Student housing
- Shelter – Private renting
- Gov.uk – Private renting for tenants