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Student housing – different ways to rent privately

This advice applies to Wales

Many students live in accommodation provided by private landlords.

This page highlights the main types of private rented accommodation available. You have different legal rights depending on who you rent your accommodation from and the type of tenancy that you have. This is also known as working out your housing status.

The main types of accommodation that students rent privately include:

  • accommodation let by private landlords
  • accommodation in private halls of residence
  • a room in the same property as the landlord.

Accommodation let by private sector landlords

This is generally self-contained flats or houses which you may rent on your own or with other people. Generally all household bills are separate to the rent, but some items may be inclusive, for example, water charges. The tenancy agreement should outline if the rent includes any other payments.

As long as you have some self-contained accommodation which you don't share with your landlord, you are most likely to have an assured shorthold tenancy.

An assured shorthold tenancy can be for a fixed term, for example, twelve months, or it can be periodic, that is, running from one rent period to another, such as from month to month.

It's relatively easy for a landlord to evict an assured shorthold tenant as long as they use the correct legal process.

Accommodation in private halls of residence

Halls of residence owned and managed by private companies are becoming more common. Some are purpose-built as student accommodation and run as commercial enterprises, others are run as charitable trusts and have very specific entry requirements. Bills are generally included in the price of the accommodation.

Private halls of residence are often not linked to a specific university and many will have signed up to a voluntary code. The codes set out standards that managers should follow relating to health and safety, maintenance and repair, and relationships between managers and student tenants.

Generally, if you are a student in private halls of residence you will have an assured shorthold tenancy. Often the tenancy will be for a fixed term of 50 or 51 weeks, although some may be for shorter periods.

It's relatively easy for a landlord to evict an assured shorthold tenant as long as they use the correct legal process.

Sharing accommodation with your landlord

If you rent a room in your landlord’s home and share some accommodation with them, such as a bathroom and kitchen, then you may be what's commonly known as a lodger. A lodger may have their own room, usually a bedroom, but they don't have exclusive use of that room. This means that their landlord can enter the room without their permission. Lodgers generally pay a charge that covers rent and bills and in some cases meals may be provided too.

Your landlord might own the property, or they may be a tenant themselves and rent a room to you. In either case, in housing terms, you will be known an excluded occupier as long as:

  • you share some of the accommodation with your landlord other than storage areas or means of access, such as a corridor, passage, staircase or entrance hall, and
  • your landlord is occupying the accommodation as their only or principal home, both at the time your agreement began and at the time it ends.

Excluded occupiers have very limited rights and your landlord doesn't have to go to court to get a possession order to evict you.

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