Student accommodation

Most first year students live in university accommodation, either in halls of residence or flats or houses owned and rented out by the university. When you are offered a place at university or college, you should be sent information about accommodation. If you don't receive anything, call the university's accommodation department.

Halls of residence

Living in halls can make the transition from being at home to living independently much easier. Catering and cleaning services are usually provided, and, surrounded by other students, it's easy to make friends quickly. Accommodation in halls is usually in single or shared rooms with ensuite or shared bathroom facilities. Hall fees can be quite expensive, but will usually include meals and cleaning. Other facilities are often available on site, such as a laundry room, internet access, a bar, a pool room, etc.

University owned rented accommodation

This may consist of a room in a flat or student house, with shared cooking and bathroom facilities. It is usually more economical than living in halls, and may include cleaning and access to a laundry and other facilities.

Do I have rights if I live in university owned accommodation?

Yes you do! Read the page on your rights in student accommodation to find out more.

What if I have a problem with my university accommodation?

If you have any questions or complaints about your university or college accommodation, contact your official student accommodation department. Some universities and colleges are quite strict about keeping to the rules while staying in their accommodation - if you find yourself in trouble, or you're not happy with the way a problem has been handled, contact your Students' Association.

What if I'm disabled?

By law, universities and colleges must make every attempt to provide you with accommodation that's suitable for your needs.

Find out more about your rights if you are disabled.

Renting privately

Students in second year and above are also entitled to rent university accommodation, but normally the demand far outstrips the supply. Therefore most students usually rent privately from landlords or letting agencies.

Finding rented accommodation

Your student accommodation office may be able to help you find private rented accommodation, check over tenancy agreements and advise you on any problems that arise when you move in. The section on finding private rented accommodation has more information on what to consider when looking for rented accommodation, how to deal with letting agencies and what you should do before you move in.

If you rent from a private landlord, you will probably need to pay rent in advance and a deposit up front (this is usually equivalent to a month's rent). When you move in, make sure you get an inventory of all the furniture and other household goods that belong to your landlord. This will help you ensure you get your deposit back when you move out.

Before you sign an agreement with a private landlord, make sure they are registered with the council: find out more about landlord registration.

Private halls of residence

You could also consider living in a privately owned halls of residence. These offer secure accommodation with many additional on-site facilities, and are becoming increasingly popular with students. Websites such as Accommodation for Students can help you find out if there are any private halls in your area.

How can I avoid getting ripped off by my landlord?

Some unscrupulous landlords believe they can take advantage of students because they don't know their housing rights and won't complain when they receive bad service.

To stay one step ahead, make sure you know your rights as a tenant. If you are unhappy with the way you are treated by your landlord or letting agency, get advice from your student accommodation service or a local housing aid centre, which you can find using the Advice Services Directory.

How do I pay for my accommodation?

Most students are not entitled to claim housing benefit, however there are some circumstances when you may be entitled. For example if you have children or you are disabled. Ask your student welfare advisor, Citizens Advice or local advice agency if you are not sure. The page on financial support for students lists other means of support available.

What if I can't find a place to live?

If you've left it late to find a place to live (for example, because you've made a late application through clearing), contact the university accommodation service as soon as possible. The accommodation service may:

  • still have places to offer
  • have lists of flatshares available with other students
  • be able to recommend reputable landlords with student flats or houses for rent.

If the accommodation service is unable to help you, you can try:

  • looking for flatshares in local papers, or advertised in or around the university, and in shops, cafes and community centres in student areas
  • ask around - a friend of a friend may know of someone looking for a flatmate
  • search online
  • ring round letting agents in the area.

Remember to try to avoid visiting potential properties on your own, and to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. The page on finding a place to rent has more safety guidelines.

Where can I find out more?

  • Check out the section on Private renting for further information and more tips on how to avoid getting ripped off.
  • Check your university's website for more information on the kinds of accommodation on offer.
  • The NUS has more advice and information about student accommodation.
  • Accommodation for Students is a useful website which allows you to search for a place in halls, student housing or a student flat across the UK.

The important points

  • University accomodation means a room in halls of residence, flat or student house that you rent from the university.
  • If you have a problem with your university accommodation, contact your university's student accommodation team and if you're not happy with the result you can contact your students' association.
  • If you're disabled, your university must make every attempt to provide you with suitable accommodation.
  • Private halls of residence, which are not owned by a university, and renting from a private landlord might be options you want to consider.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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