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Read Our Private Housing Top Tips!

Looking to rent private accommodation this coming year? Check out our top tips to help you navigate private renting with ease!

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Looking at private accommodation but not sure where to start? New to living away from home or tired of halls? We’ve pulled together some tips and tricks, our best advice and favourite links to help you find your next home away from home.

We’ve broken it down into 12 key points: From roommates to references, we hope we can give you that boost in confidence to navigate private renting with ease.


  1. Budget: Make sure to set a realistic budget that includes not just the rent, but also other expenses such as utility bills, council tax, and internet. Keep in mind that some areas may be more expensive than others. When looking for accommodation, avoid Facebook marketplace! Instead use websites like Sparerooms, Rightmove, and Zoopla. Think of it this way - if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

  2. Location: Consider the location of the accommodation in relation to your campus, as well as other amenities such as public transportation, grocery stores, and entertainment options. You can use Google Maps or a browser to estimate time spent commuting to and from your campus; e.g. if the accommodation you are looking at is at Ashley Road in Epsom, google “Ashley Road, Epsom to University for the Creative Arts, Epsom” and check the “Public transport” option to see the estimated time spent commuting.

  3. Safety: Look for accommodation that has proper safety measures in place, such as fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and secure locks on doors and windows. It's also a good idea to research the safety of the neighbourhood. You can check out Crime Rate public safety data for your area here.

  4. Contracts: Read and understand the rental contract thoroughly before signing. Pay attention to clauses related to rent, deposit, repairs, and any additional fees. Seek legal advice if needed (reach out to Citizens Advice for free help).

  5. Deposit and Rent: Be prepared to pay a security deposit and advance rent. Make sure to understand the terms and conditions related to the deposit, including how it will be protected and under what circumstances it may be withheld. Often the deposits are protected by a service such as Deposit Protection Scheme. Click here to read more about it.

  6. Amenities: Check what amenities are included in the rent, such as furniture, appliances, and internet. If anything is missing or not working properly, discuss it with the landlord or agent before signing the contract.

  7. Repairs: Inquire about the landlord's responsibility for repairs and maintenance. Make sure to have a written agreement on how repairs will be addressed during your tenancy.

  8. Roommates: If you are renting with roommates, discuss expectations and responsibilities upfront, including rent sharing, household chores, and bills. This way you will avoid future misunderstandings and disagreements. It might be worth agreeing on a bill-splitting service/app to help you track expenses and payments such as the FREE Housemate app by Natwest- it even recognises your rent payments to help build your credit score and renting history!

  9. References: If available, ask for references from previous tenants or other reliable sources to get feedback on the condition of the property, the landlord's responsiveness, and any issues you should be aware of.

  10. Guarantors: Your guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you are unable to, this might be a parent, a close relative or a third-party service such as Housing Hands. If living in shared accommodation you will need to double-check if this applies to all or just your share of the rent. In cases where you are unable to obtain a guarantor, you will need to be prepared to pay an advance on the rent, this could be as much as 6 months however there is no legal limit to how much rent a landlord can ask for upfront.

  11. Legal Rights: Familiarise yourself with your legal rights as a tenant in the UK, including your rights to repairs, privacy, and protection from unfair treatment (reach out to Citizens Advice for free help).

  12. Document everything: To ensure a seamless end to your stay, it's essential to document everything. By taking photos and screenshots, you can have a visual record of the property's condition when you move in. This practice can prove invaluable in case of any disputes about the deposit amount that should be returned to you upon leaving. Be sure to take this step before settling into your new accommodation. Additionally, it's crucial to keep any relevant filed documents in a secure location where they'll be easily accessible if needed. These documents could include your contract, move-in inspection report, and any correspondence with your landlord. By storing them in a safe place, you can avoid the hassle of having to search for them later on, saving you time and effort.

  13. Check out private accommodation options at Studentpad: Studentpad has an official partnership with UCA to supply private rental properties in Canterbury, Epsom, and Farnham. They frequently upload new properties to their website, and they have some great guides you can check out too. Get your search going for your new pad at


Entering the private rental market as a student can be daunting. It’s a big commitment and a significant step for your independence, so take your time to research and ask questions. Start looking and familiarising yourself with the process early on, so you don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress. Trust your gut! If something doesn’t sound right, double-check your research and/or reach out for advice. You can always seek guidance from  UCA Gateway Services or legal professionals such as Citizens Advice to ensure you make an informed choice.


Happy house hunting!


#StudentLife #RentingTips #Accommodation




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