Student accommodation and halls of residence
This page looks at your rights if you are living in student accommodation.
Leaving your accommodation due to the coronavirus outbreak
If you are living in purpose-built student accommodation, and you want to end your tenancy because of the coronavirus outbreak, you are entitled to do this.
The amount of notice you need to give your landlord will depend on when you moved into the accommodation:
if you moved in before 27 May 2020 - you need to give your landlord 7 days notice that you are going to leave the accommodation
if you moved in on or after 27 May 2020 - you need to give your landlord 28 days notice that you are going to leave the accommodation
The notice has to be in writing and you should state that you need to end your tenancy 'due to the coronavirus outbreak'. You do not need to give any further details about this.
If you're sending the notice by post keep a copy and send it recorded delivery. If you're sending via email keep a copy of the email.
The tenancy will come to an end after the last day of the notice period.
If your accommodation provider is refusing to accept that you've given notice get advice.
What is student accommodation
If you live in student accommodation (which can also be called halls of residence), you are likely to be a common law tenant.
The landlord can either be your university or a private landlord if the property has at least 30 bedrooms.
When you move into the accommodation, you will usually be asked to sign a tenancy agreement. This will state:
your name and the name of your landlord
the address of the accommodation
how much rent you will pay
how long you can live in the accommodation (the term or duration of the lease).
you may only be permitted to stay in the accommodation during term-time.
you could be asked to pay extra or move out altogether during the holidays.
what happens if you leave or lose your place at university or college, will you have to move out of your accommodation?
Your tenancy agreement should also state:
when your rent is due and how you will pay it (for example, by cheque, standing order, etc.)
what your rent includes - for example, does it cover bills (gas, electricity, phone, etc.)? Does it include extra services such as cleaning and catering?
whether you can leave the accommodation before the lease is up, and how much notice you will need to give
responsibility and procedure for carrying out repairs
other house rules concerning overnight guests, general behaviour, pets, etc.
Make sure you read the tenancy agreement carefully. If you break any of the conditions, you may be asked to move out.
I want to leave my accommodation?
Unlike most tenants, you won't have to give a notice to quit before moving out when your lease expires (usually at the end of term). However, you may want to leave your accommodation before your lease is up. The agreement you sign when you move in should state whether you can do this, and if so, how much notice you will need to give.
The rules about leaving your accommodation can be vary depending on your landlord. For example, if you pay your rent for a whole student term upfront, you may not be able to get a refund if you want to move out of the accommodation halfway through the term. Some may not return your deposit if you leave before your lease has ended. Others may let you move out, provided you can find another student to take your place.
If you want to move out of your accommodation, speak to your landlord. Even if your lease says you can't move out, you may be able to come to an arrangement with them.
If you want to end your tenancy due to the coronavirus outbreak there are new rules about this. See the section at the top of the page.
I've been told to leave the accommodation?
There are three situations in which your landlord can end your tenancy and evict you from the accommodation:
when your lease comes to an end
if you break a term of the tenancy agreement (although it must state in the agreement that if you break the term, you will be asked to leave - this is called an irritancy clause)
if you leave university.
Eviction at the end of your contract
Your tenancy agreement should make clear how long you can stay in the accommodation and when you need to move out. However, your landlord should still send you written notice before you need to leave.
Eviction because you have broken a condition of your tenancy agreement
If this is the case, your landlord must send you a written notice giving you at least four weeks to move out of the accommodation. If you don't think you have broken any conditions and refuse to leave. The landlord can take the matter to court and ask the court to declare that an irritancy has occurred (ie that you have broken a condition of your tenancy agreement). If the court decides in favour of the landlord, it can grant them an order for recovery of possession, which means you'll have to leave.
However, it's important to remember that your landlord cannot evict you before the end of your lease without a court order.
Eviction if you leave university
If you drop out or are asked to leave university, you may also have to leave the accommodation. This will depend on the rules of your particular accommodation, but if this is the case, it should be written clearly in your tenancy agreement.
The landlord must give you at least four weeks' notice to move out. If you don't think this is long enough to find somewhere else to live, speak to the accommodation service. They may allow you to stay longer.
What can I do if I'm asked to leave?
If your landlord wants to evict you or you encounter any other problems with your accommodation, get advice from the Students' Association. An adviser may be able to help you to:
negotiate with the university or landlord to stay in the accommodation
find somewhere else to live
apply for benefits or other financial help.
The section on rent arrears has advice on what you can do if you are having problems paying for your accommodation.
Repairs in student accommodation
Your landlord must ensure that your student accommodation:
is safe and fit for you to live in
doesn't let in wind or rain
has adequate ventilation and insulation
has a heating system that will enable you to keep your home free of damp and condensation without running up huge gas or electricity bills.
The landlord should also be responsible for fixing installations. Installations are:
appliances for space heating or heating water
pipes and flues for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, including basins, sinks, and baths. This includes water pipes, gas pipes, flues and ventilation but does not include fixtures, fittings and appliances for using the water, gas or electricity, such as cookers.
If any of the installations breaks or stops working (for example the heating or hot water system, the toilet or shower), it's up to you to report this to the landlord. They should then get the problem fixed within a reasonable amount of time.
In return, you must look after the property and any furniture it contains and make sure you repair any damage you cause. This doesn't include fair wear and tear to the property.
Last updated: 21 January 2021
Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.