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.
You will find useful housing advice and renter checklists on the Housing Advice section of Suffolk Studentpad. See also below for links to independent advice.
- 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?
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 four-six weeks rent for advanced rent is normal outside of student accommodation, but landlords can choose to charge more; the exact amount payable in advance will depend on the room and property you choose to book.
It is likely you will need to pay the deposit and advanced rent before the first instalment of student finance is due to you. We strongly recommend that students plan for this and save for their deposit/advanced rent over the months leading up to the start of the 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.
Most landlords, including private accommodation providers that rent properties to students, require a third person to act as a ‘guarantor’ before a tenancy agreement can be completed.
A guarantor is a third party, for example a family member, who agrees to pay the rent if for any reason you as the tenant cannot. In some cases a guarantor is also liable for other costs that might be incurred, for example any damage to the property that happened whilst you were living there. Agreeing to be a guarantor is a binding legal commitment, and landlords can take legal action against your guarantor if the rent, or other costs, are not paid.
Check if you need a guarantor for student housing that you are interested in and be sure to get this in place before you start.
Who can act as a rent guarantor?
A person acting as a guarantor would normally have the following credentials:
• UK individual citizen – to enable a landlord to pursue action through the UK court system if required
• Solvent – credit checks may be taken to assess ability to meet any potential liability
If you do not have a UK-based guarantor, you may wish to consider using a rent guarantor company, such as Housing Hand, who will act as your guarantor for a fee.