Private rented accommodation refers to privately owned rooms, flats and houses being let out by their owners for residential purposes. It's generally cheaper than halls of residence, but remember that you may have to pay for utility bills (water, gas, electricity, internet etc) separately from the rent. The rent is usually paid weekly or monthly and you would normally sign a tenancy agreement contract with the owner.
This page contains information to guide you through the process of renting in the private sector.
Looking for a room, flat or house?
Student Pad is the University's private rental website, which you can use to search for accommodation. It also contains detailed housing advice and information you need to know when renting from a landlord or agent. You need to be a current or prospective London Metropolitan University student in order to register on the site. The password for the property search facility is Londonmet
You can also find private accommodation listed on Uniplaces.
Looking for someone to share a house or flat with?
The best way to team up with potential flatmates is via our Student Pad message board. You can post adverts, including information about yourself, the course you're studying and the type of accommodation you're looking for (price, area etc).
Cost and types of accommodation
The first thing you have to decide is whether you are going to live:
- by yourself in a separate flat
- as part of a group of students in shared accommodation, or
- in a room in a householder's dwelling
In 2022, prices for a studio flat or one-bedroom flat in Islington average out at £1,383 and £1,565 per month respectively. To keep expenses down, many students opt to live further out (average prices for a studio or one-bedroom flat in Bexley are £688 and £854 per month) or house-share.
The other alternative is to live in lodgings. This means sharing a house or flat with the householder and possibly their family. Advantages may include meals, utility bills and laundry, but be aware that householders in lodgings can impose their own rules, for example, restrictions on coming home late or having visitors.
London has the highest rental prices in the UK. The cost of rent can vary greatly according to the standard of accommodation, the area, local transport links and proximity from central London.
Deposits are returnable in full when you leave the accommodation unless the householder makes a justifiable deduction for damages or rent arrears. Most householders request a deposit in advance of a tenant moving into the property – usually the equivalent of four to six weeks' rent. Landlords require this to cover themselves against damage to property, rent arrears, and/or the possibility that you will leave outstanding bills or without adequate notice.
Landlords and rental agencies sometimes charge potential tenants a holding deposit, which is supposed to ensure that you're the only person being considered for renting a certain property. Landlords/agents should stop marketing the property once you have paid the holding deposit. However:
- this does not mean other agencies are not advertising the property on behalf of the landlord
- this does not guarantee you a rental contract
- you could lose your money if you decide not to rent the property
When paying a holding deposit, always make sure you:
- read and understand the terms and conditions
- keep a copy of the terms and conditions for your records
- get a receipt with all the details
Deposit protection scheme
A landlord must provide evidence that a deposit has been protected within 14 days of receiving it. If you pay a deposit for an assured short-hold tenancy (the most common form of contract) to a householder or letting agent, this deposit must be protected through a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This means your deposit money has to be given to an independent organisation for safe-keeping during your tenancy. For further information about deposit protection, please see the Student Pad housing advice page and the gov.uk website.
If any disputes do arise between you and your landlord/letting agent at the end of your tenancy, an Alternative Dispute Resolution service (ADR) will be in place to mediate.
Reclaiming your deposit
At the end of a tenancy, once you and your landlord have agreed how much is to be paid back, it must be paid back within 10 days.
If there is any dispute between you and your landlord, then you must both agree to use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service and to be bound by its decision with no recourse to the courts. Courts will only be involved in disputes if one party doesn't agree to use the ADR service.
Before you hand over your deposit, it's important to get an inventory of which items are in the accommodation and its general condition, to avoid any disputes later on. If possible, get the householder to agree a written list with you. If this isn't possible, make a note of the condition yourself and take photos of any scratched surfaces, marked walls, torn carpets, stained tables etc, which are already there.
Before moving out, it's always a good idea to thoroughly clean and tidy up your accommodation. That way, when the householder comes around to inspect, you'll be presenting the property in a state which demonstrates that you've been a considerate tenant. Landlords/agents may charge for professional cleaning if the accommodation is left in a mess. They will usually deduct the cost of this from your deposit; if they do, ask for a receipt to ensure you're charged the right amount.
Fire safety issues
Fire safety checks
The fumes from burning sofas and settees account for most of the deaths during house fires, which is why smoke alarms are so important. In rented accommodation, it's illegal for a landlord to fit furniture which is not fully fire retardant. Check for BSI Kitemark labels on all furniture and covers, and check if there are smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the house. If they're missing, ask your landlord/agent to provide them.
Make sure you also check your fire line – the direct route from your bedroom to the nearest door out of the building. Extra caution should be employed if it takes you through the kitchen. It's a good idea to check if there's plasterboard or solid brick on the stairwell walls, and if the kitchen has a firm interior door, as these things can slow down a fire and give you time to get out.
Read more information regarding fire safety.
Cheap chargers, particularly e-cigarette chargers can cause fires. Always make sure you buy reputable branded chargers. Please see information on the Electrical Safety First website.
Facts about carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide poisoning causes an average of 46 deaths and 220 injuries every year – most commonly to people living in bedsits or shared accommodation. It occurs when gas is not burning properly, and is absorbed into the body, affecting the oxygen supply. Early symptoms include drowsiness, headaches, confusion and nausea. In mild cases, carbon monoxide poisoning causes persistent ill health which makes it impossible to concentrate. In extreme cases, it could be fatal.
Carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless and tasteless. Signs of carbon monoxide include soot or discolouration above fireplaces, boilers or water heaters, and appliances burning with a yellow/orange flame (it should always be blue). By law, all landlords must have their gas fittings checked once a year by a Gas Safe-registered gas fitter, and they should be able to show you a valid Gas Safe certificate. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) say that on average 1,600 reports of dangerous gas fittings are made each year. The main causes are cited as gas leaks and inadequate fixed ventilation. Even if your landlord does have a certificate, you should check for the signs mentioned and get a carbon monoxide alarm (which usually costs around £6). Make sure to check that it complies with the BS7860 standard.
Read more information regarding Gas Safe Register.
Check that the installer is registered by calling Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 (free from a UK landline) or visiting the Gas Safe register website. Check that your householder has a current Gas Safe (Certificate for Registered Gas Installers) certificate. This should be renewed every year and must be given to you as a tenant and/or displayed in the property.
If you have any doubts, you can phone British Gas or your local Environmental Health Service, who can also carry out checks.
For more information including safety advice and legal advice visit the HSE Gas Safety site or call 0800 300 363.
One of the most rewarding experiences of being a student is communal living, which comes with shared duties and responsibilities and requires flexibility. Invaluable lessons can be learned from your first experience of house-sharing, and these will no doubt influence the decisions you make about your living arrangements in the future.
Paying bills can sometimes cause friction between people living communally, which is why it's important to set out clearly how each bill is going to be paid (whether by cheque, online, direct debit etc) and who is going to take responsibility for it. If there are a number of tenants sharing, it may be an idea to allocate payment responsibility of one bill each. If using direct debit, it may be a good idea to set up a separate bank account for bills.
When moving into a shared house, you will generally be required to sign a joint tenancy. Under a joint tenancy, you are all jointly and severally liable for the rent. This means that the rent must be paid by all of you as if you were one person. If someone moves out they should continue to pay their share of the rent until their name is replaced on the tenancy. However, if they don't, the remaining tenants will have to make up the shortfall until a replacement is found. You can't tell the landlord that you're only paying your share, as the landlord is entitled to ask for the whole amount, regardless of who's living there.
If you have a television in your home, you'll need to get a TV licence to cover it. Your parents' licence will not be sufficient. For details, please visit the TV Licensing website.
Your landlord must insure the building you're renting, but this only covers the structure – not the contents. It is your responsibility to insure your possessions against theft, damage and accidents. Your parents might be able to extend their insurance policy to include your possessions, which would reduce the overall premium (annual cost of insurance) which you'll have to pay. There are two types of insurance available: old for new and indemnity.
It's important to remember that insurance companies will only pay out up to the amount of insurance you purchased from them. If you under-insure (pay less than the figure they set to cover the items you valued and listed in your original cover policy) then the company will only pay out an equivalent percentage of your losses.
It's always best to compare the best contents insurance deals online, using comparison sites such as moneysupermarket.com.
Before you insure your goods, it's important to get them valued. Remember to keep receipts when you buy expensive items.
Recently, new government plans were announced to make it easier for tenants to keep pets. As part of the proposals, landlords will no longer be able to issue a blanket ban on pets, and all tenants will have the legal right to request a pet in their property. More information about pets in lets.
Rogue landlords and avoiding rental scams
All London councils have agreed to participate in a Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker, which contains information about private landlords and letting agents who have been prosecuted or fined.
Top tips from Unipol on avoiding rental scams.
Where to look for private rented accommodation
Studentpad is the University's own private rental database. Landlords, estate agents, students and staff can advertise any accommodation they have on here. There's also a message board, housing advice and detailed information about renting, including tenancy deposit law, contracts, gas safety and HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation). View the housing advice on their help page.
London Student Housing Guide
The online version of the London Student Housing Guide is packed with useful information to help you make informed choices about where and how you live in London.
Accommodation sourcing agencies
Please be aware that there will be a fee for these services.
Check who the owner of your house is
The Land Registry
Since 1990, the land registry has been open to the public. For a £3 fee anyone can inspect the register and obtain a copy of any registered title. This can be done by post, in person or online.
Advice links for tenants renting in the private sector
- Government advice for tenancy agreements
- Tenants: Keeping your deposit safe
- The Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits
UniKitOut offer a range of bedroom, bathroom and kitchen essentials for moving into your new accommodation which you can have delivered when you move in. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your eight-digit London Met student ID number and request your 10% discount code to use when paying.
Save the Student has a rent budget calculator you can use to see how much you can afford in rent each month, after everything else is considered.
Housing Hand can act as your guarantor if you require one. Please note there is a charge for this service.
Broadband Genie is a comparison website featuring the best student deals.