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Student housing - moving to halls of residence

This advice applies to Scotland

Many students live in accommodation provided by their educational institution. Often this is halls of residence which are conveniently located close to the place of study. Halls are particularly popular for first year students.

This page provides some basic information about student halls of residence. There will be specific details about the halls of residence available to you on the website of your educational institution.

Halls of residence

Halls of residence provide accommodation specifically for students and are often located within or near to the campus of the educational institution. The accommodation is generally only available during term-time, although some may be available for certain students for the full calendar year.

The type of accommodation in halls can vary. Some universities provide single rooms with shared bathrooms, kitchens and communal areas while others provide rooms with their own bathrooms and shared cooking and communal areas. Some halls also provide meals and a bed linen and cleaning service. Some provide studio flats that a couple who are both students can share. If you have this type of accommodation it can mean that you have a joint tenancy and joint liability for the rent.

The accommodation office at your educational institution can give you information about what options of accommodation are available, how much it costs and how you can apply.

Tenancy agreement

You will usually be asked to sign an agreement which will tell you the basic features of you tenancy. It will include:

  • who the landlord is
  • your address
  • how much rent you have to pay
  • when the contract ends.

A tenancy agreement must include all the aspects of the tenancy that you need to agree to. It is a legally binding contract. For example, it must explain what your rights and responsibilities are about repairs, subletting your room, how to pay your rent and what behaviour is unacceptable. It should explain what the rules are if you break the agreement and the educational institution wants you to leave before the end of the term of the agreement.

Insurance

Once you have signed the agreement for halls of residence check if there is insurance cover for your room or private space if it is larger than one room. Most educational establishments with halls of residence have a block insurance policy for residents. Check that this is paid for within the rent. It is unlikely to cover the repair of any damage that you cause but may provide cover for your personal possessions in your room. Check your insurance cover and if it is not sufficient you may want to discuss increasing your own cover. The student accommodation service can advise you about this.

Paying for halls of residence

Halls of residence can be expensive but often include extra facilities, such as weekly cleaning. You may be asked to pay some form of pre-payment. It should be clear in your agreement if this is counted as rent or is a security deposit.

Rent or fees for accommodation in halls of residence is often due at the start of each term, which coincides with student loan instalments. However, universities may offer other payment dates.

Bills, such as heating, lighting and water, are generally included in the price of the accommodation.

Students in halls of residence don't have to pay council tax whatever type of accommodation they have.

Check your inventory

It is very useful to check your inventory when you arrive. In many halls there may only be a minimum number of goods listed in the inventory unless, for example, you share a kitchen. If you are not given an inventory make sure you ask for one as you could be asked later to pay for missing articles which were, in fact, never there.

Prohibition in subletting room

In most educational institutions you will be prohibited from sub-letting your room to anyone. If you share living space with other people and allow someone else to stay, instead of you, you could be reported to the accommodation service. Check what is stated in your tenancy agreement.

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

There are strict rules that a landlord must adhere to if three or more people, who are not related or in a relationship, share basic amenities in a living area. Most halls of residence where students share a flat will meet this criteria. Accommodation built by the educational institution will have been built to these standards, for example for safety requirements. If you live in a flat off the campus owned by the educational institution and there are three or more people sharing the space you may want to check that the standards for an HMO are met.

Other accommodation owned or let by the educational institution

Apart from halls of residence, some educational institutions also own houses and flats. Some institutions manage this type of accommodation on behalf of a private landlord.

If you rent this type of accommodation, the educational institution is still your landlord and it is responsible for managing the accommodation and for doing repairs.

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