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Housing options if you're a student

When you get offered a place at university or college you'll get information on finding a place to live. There are 2 main options available, renting halls of residence or renting privately. Depending on your situation, you could get benefits and grants to cover your rent and other living costs.

Finding the right place to live

In halls of residence you can usually rent a single or shared room with an en-suite or shared bathroom. Other facilities are often available, such as:

  • a laundry room

  • internet access

  • communal rooms

  • games and a TV

In some halls, if you can pay extra you could also get your meals and cleaning fees covered.

If you’d prefer to rent privately you can contact local letting agencies and check online on websites like SpareRoom, S1 Homes, Rightmove, Zoopla and Gumtree.

If you cannot find somewhere to live, contact your university or college student accommodation service as soon as possible. They’ll help you find a place either in halls of residence or from a private provider off campus. They could also have:

  • lists of student flatshares looking for a flatmate

  • existing relationships with private landlords looking for tenants

Renting in halls or purpose built student accommodation

If you move into halls of residence or purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) check your contract for your tenancy rights.

Halls of residence are run by your university or college, PBSA providers are private landlords. Each PBSA building must have 30 or more bedrooms for students to use.

The type of tenancy you’ll have in halls of residence or PBSA is called a common law tenancy. These tenancies have less rights than most other tenancies but:

The building should also be safe and secure. We have more guidance on your rights in student accommodation.

Renting from a private landlord or letting agency

If you rent privately you’ll be given a private residential tenancy. These tenancies have strong rights. We have guidance on your rights if you have a private residential tenancy.

Checks to make if you want to rent privately

Before you give a prospective landlord any money ask for their:

  • full name

  • address, in the United Kingdom

  • contact number and email address

  • landlord registration number

Most private landlords have to register with the council before they can rent out a property. If they’re not registered this is illegal, do not rent from them. If you’re not sure, check if your landlord should be registered.

If you’re renting from a letting agency they must be registered as well. Search the letting agent register to check they’re on it.

Landlords and letting agents must include their registration numbers on all property adverts.

Going to viewings

Always take someone with you to viewings if you can. A trusted person can help you decide if the place is right for you.

If you go to a viewing alone, let someone know where you’ll be, the landlord’s contact details, and what time you can be expected back.


  • whether you would feel safe in the area

  • when the landlord needs someone to move in

  • what the average costs for heating and electricity might be

  • if any costs are included in the rent, such as internet or other utilities

  • any repair issues that need to be fixed, such as faulty windows, electrics or dampness

  • whether its close to public transport and facilities you want to use like shops or the gym

There’s a legal repair standard for private tenancies. If there are any outstanding repair issues, ask the landlord to fix them before you move in. Email them when you ask so you have a record.

Paying for somewhere to live

You could get help with your living costs through the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). Funding availability will depend on things like your income, if you’re a young person or a carer. Check the SAAS website for funding.

In some cases students can get benefits and grants to help cover living costs. We have guidance on getting help to pay rent if you’re a student.

If you’re worried about money

Contact your college or university’s student union. They can help you to budget and apply for student hardship grants.

Last updated: 19 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England