House Hunting

Every year, the Students’ Union help students make house hunting as simple as possible for them.

However, this year we are aware that things won’t be the same for students looking for accommodation for their following year, with a number of additional things to think about.

This year it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re making the right decisions about your housing and accommodation for next year. The University and Students’ Union are advising students not to rush into signing up for their next academic year’s accommodation,, for a number of reasons:
  • Due to social distancing restrictions, students are telling us it’s not been as easy to build the friendship groups that would naturally lead to housemate groups. Give yourself a bit more time to let these friendships develop.
  • Currently, restrictions are making it harder to view properties in person. Even with virtual viewings, you may not get the full picture about a property.
  • There is uncertainty about what teaching and learning will look like for the next academic year, which may influence your decision. Private-rented contracts aren’t anything to do with the University, so whatever decisions are made about your teaching and learning have no bearing on tenancy agreements.
  • We’d encourage you to talk to your loved ones, so you are making the right decision for you.
  • You’ll be legally liable for the contract once you’ve signed it, so if you change your mind and there’s no break clause (there very rarely is) you will still be liable even if you change your mind.

Some housing providers start advertising accommodation for the following academic year as early as November. However, we would encourage you not to feel pressured into signing up, or re-signing, for accommodation too early.
Getting informed – SU Advice guide
When you’ve decided you do want to start looking for 2021/22 accommodation, the following guide will be useful for you once you start your house hunt: 'Finding a New Place. Your guide to house hunting'
Getting informed – SU Advice team
The SU Advisers have a wealth of knowledge and many years of experience in relation to student housing in Nottingham - if you have any questions or concerns at all about housing for next year, please ask us at suadvice@nottingham.ac.uk
This depends on where you want to live next year. Students find accommodation through a variety of ways, often through seeing lettings boards on houses, word of mouth or via the internet - have a look at our Finding Accommodation page for places to look online.
You can also go through the University's Accommodation Services webpages to view your options about staying in catered/self-catered halls, purpose built student accommodation or private-rented accommodation.
Before Viewings
The first thing to do is to check to see if the property is accredited through the Nottingham Standard, if you are looking in the Nottingham City area. The Nottingham Standard helps tenants identify properties that meet a minimum quality standard.
Most properties in Nottingham City require a licence, which helps to maintain quality and safety standards in private rented sector accommodation. More information about the Nottingham City Council’s schemes can be found here. In other areas (e.g. Broxtowe, NW Leicestershire, Rushcliffe) some larger shared properties may require a House of Multiple Occupation licence – check with the local council if you are in another area.
Marks Out Of Tenancy – the SU has recently partnered with MOOT so that UoN students can leave reviews about their property and landlord/agent, so it’s worth looking to see if any of the reviews are relevant to any potential properties you are looking at.
Viewing Properties Currently, our advice would be to view properties virtually, wherever possible.
Bear in mind that current social distancing measures must be in place if you do visit properties – this relates to you, your potential housemates, the current tenants and the agent/landlord.
Please read the latest Government advice regarding viewing properties.
See if you can speak to the current tenants, to ask them about the property.
Students’ Union Advice can go through your contract with you to make sure you understand what your rights and responsibilities are and to highlight any clauses that you may want to discuss further with your landlord/agent. Your landlord should give you 24 hours so you can take the proposed contract away and read it through properly.
Email it through to suadvice@nottingham.ac.uk and an Adviser will go through it for you and answer any questions you have.
Many landlords and estate agents request a holding deposit to reserve a property. A holding deposit can’t be more than 1 week’s rent. This may or may not be refundable so only pay a holding deposit if you're serious about taking on the tenancy or you may lose it. If you go ahead with the tenancy, the holding fee will usually form part of your tenancy (damage) deposit. This should be protected in a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of handing it over. You may also be asked to pay a retainer/half-rent for the summer period.
All upfront fees for tenants are banned.
If you sign a new tenancy or renew your tenancy, you cannot be asked to pay for:
  • Referencing
  • Credit and immigration checks
  • Administration
  • Renewing your contract

The only fees that you can be charged will be:
  • For the cost of replacing a key if you lose one
  • If you are more than 14 days late with your rent
  • If you want to change your tenancy or bring it to an end

The applies to most private tenants. This includes if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, are in student housing or if you are a lodger.
If you want to find out more about tenant fees, the government booklet 'The Tenant Fees Act. How does it affect me?' has lots of information.
Some landlords and agents ask for a guarantor form to be completed. Your guarantor will become liable for your financial responsibilities, which means they will be liable for your rent if you don’t pay. If you are not happy about this, look for somewhere else to rent.
It is sometimes difficult for international students to provide a guarantor, so please ask the agent or landlord about this before signing anything.
Most students sign joint fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy agreements.
Assured shorthold tenancy agreements are the most common form of tenancy for anyone renting privately. A joint contract means you are renting the whole property as a group and, importantly, the landlord can hold everyone jointly responsible for the rent.
A fixed-term tenancy means you will usually be tied to the contract for the whole term. Most students who want to leave a house have to find a replacement.

Useful links

Nottingham City Council - Renting a property

Questions?

If you have any questions about house hunting, please contact Students' Union Advice

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get in touch with us if you think there is something missing, or if you have a question you can't find the answer to.