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How to Find Student Accommodation in London

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Are you ready for an exciting new chapter to unfold? Moving to London is an adventure and a big step of the process is choosing accommodation that is right for you. There is no right or wrong choice, the most important part is that you feel happy, comfortable and safe in the property you choose. The questions you may be asking are where do I even start with accommodation? And how do I find accommodation in a completely new area? This guide is here to answer all your questions.

How to find student accommodation in London? Look no further as this guide will help you find accommodation in London that is right for you.

Table of Contents

Accredited Letting Agency

There are numerous different options for students looking for accommodation in London. One way is to find a property through an accredited letting agency. A letting agent is the liaison between yourself and the landlord, helping you to guarantee a safer, more reliable service and find you a property that matches your criteria. It’s important to make sure the letting agency you go through is registered with one of the UK’s leading accreditation schemes. These include: NAL Safe Agent, ARLA Propertymark, NAEA Propertymark. This means the letting agency has agreed to adhere to certain practices and you’re guaranteed a more secure service. With an agency, everything is done correctly and professionally, and you’re more likely to be able to get in touch with them should something go wrong.

Letting agencies can sometimes charge high fees. However, it’s good to know that they can’t charge you for looking at a list of properties available for rent or charge you for registering with the agency. However, they can charge you for credit checks, admin, setting up the inventory and releasing your deposit. Make sure you’re always aware of the letting agencies fees and read reviews before you commit to one. It’s a good idea to look around at other agencies to make comparisons. It’s important to find an agency that works best for you and your housemates.

Accommodation Websites

Another way to find accomodation in London is through websites online. Here are some reliable online options where you can search for properties independently:

  • Unite Students – provides purpose built student accommodation in great locations across the UK. They prioritise student safety, holding a 5* accredited rating by the British Safety Council. If you’re unsuccessful in getting a place at university, Unite Students will let you cancel for free.
  • Sanctuary Students – provides university accommodation across the UK. They offer all-inclusive rent packages (bills included), Free Wi-Fi, flexible payment plans and on-site security.
  • O2O London – provides student accommodation in East London with all inclusive rates. This includes – shared flats, studios, , ensuite accommodation, self catered blocks, student halls with meals and pastoral care.
  • Zoopla – a website and app with over a million properties to browse. Zoopla is a reliable source to find the perfect place for you. It includes tools that let you filter the properties in all kinds of clever ways.
  • Rightmove – UK’s no.1 property app. Find properties to rent from local estate agents. Discover detailed floor plans, swipeable photo galleries, nearest transport links and more. You can search for properties on a map and use street view to see houses up close.
  • SpareRoom– Thousands of rooms for rent and profiles to find your next flat mate. You can arrange viewing with people one by one via the site. Spare Room even has its own ‘Speed Flatmating’ events, where you are able to meet lots of new people in one go. Safety is a top priority for Spare Room. They have a team of moderators that are constantly checking the site to keep you safe.
  • OntheMarket – a leading UK property portal, majority owned by estate and lettings agents, delivering a premier property search engine service.

Host Family Accommodation

Host family accommodation is a brilliant option for students wanting to experience life as a London local. It’s perfect for anyone who would like to learn more about English culture and have excellent cultural exchange in an authentic environment. Furthermore, living with a host family will help you improve your English skills and help you settle into a new city. Ultimately Host Family Accommodation London’s top priority is making your transition to London as smooth as possible. Unlike many homestay accommodation providers, HFS London is British Council registered. This means you are guaranteed to be in safe hands and you can be confident that you’ll be placed into a trusted, secure family as they are all inspected personally.

How does Host Family Accommodation work?

HFS London will be with you every step of the way in helping you choose the best homestay for you. The first part of the process involves completing an online application form. As soon as the application is completed and received by the team, they will begin working on it immediately, working hard to find the best matches for you. The next step, around 24-48 hours after receiving your application, HFS London will send you numerous profiles that match your criteria. The profiles will include pictures, information about the family and transport links. You’ll then choose which ones you like the most and HFS will then contact the families to check their availability. Once all payments and documents have been received, you’ll get a confirmation of all the details of the host family and you are then encouraged to get in contact with them so you can plan for your arrival!

For more information on Host Family Accommodation please visit their website. You can find common asked questions on their Help Centre page or you can get in contact directly with their team. 

Email: info@hfslondon.com

Telephone: +44 (0)20 3069 2048

There are lots of options when it comes to  accommodation in London. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to find what is best for you and the people you are choosing to live with. As always, your university housing office will help you with this process so don’t be afraid to ask for advice and guidance.

How Do I Arrange a Property Viewing Through an Agency?

This is a great time to get help from your university. They will have a housing office that can recommend letting agents and give you advice on what previous students have experienced – the good, the bad and the ugly! Your university may also have an online portal where you can browse a list of agencies and properties. 

Another way to find letting agencies is browsing their windows or searching online for properties in and around the area. You can refine your search by area, price and number of bedrooms. Or you can even keep an eye out for ‘To Let’ signs around the local area and ring up the agent for availability. It is useful to read as many reviews as possible on the service and management of the property. This will help you make an informed decision. Speaking to friends and other students who have rented in the city can also give you a good idea of first-hand experiences with agents. They may recommend ones they have liked going through.

During your visit to a letting agent, it’s advised to discuss the terms of letting with them (terms can vary from agent to agent) and ask for a list of the properties they have available. Once you have found an agent you think you’re happy with, you can have a chat about what you’re looking for. They will suggest properties on their books that suit what you have asked for or contact you when something suitable becomes available. If you and your housemates are interested in the properties suggested, then you can arrange a viewing with them.

When Should I Start Looking For Accommodation?

London’s private rental housing market is very fast paced. Private properties are usually advertised a maximum of one or two months before they become available to move into. Rooms in private halls of residence are generally advertised earlier in the year.

As an international student, it can be difficult to visit your accommodation beforehand. If you are wanting to move into private rented house/flat shares it is highly advised to view the property before you sign the contract, otherwise dangerous scams can occur. It is recommended that you reserve temporary accommodation for when you first arrive in the UK – either staying in a hotel or guest house. This means when you arrive in the UK, you can start viewing longer-term accommodation options. Make full use of your university’s house-hunting support for this.

What Types of Private Accommodation Are There?

It’s important to take your time when choosing where you want to live as you’ll be there for the duration of your studies. The options include: 

  • Private Halls of Residence

Private halls usually include shared flats and studio apartments with excellent communal facilities. Private halls are not owned by the university but they offer the opportunity to live with students from other institutions. Some universities have their own Halls of residence, but it’s always best to check if this is an option. 

  • Private Renting (private flat-share or private house share) 

Another option is private rent, either sharing with other students or living by yourself. This type of accommodation gives you independence and the freedom to live how you want to, within reason. It is important to recognise that cheap houses will be cheap for a reason, either due to size, location or quality. Therefore you and your housemates will need to think and prioritise what is important for you. Remember that those areas that lie further away from the heart of the city (Zone 1) tend to have lower rental costs.

Tips For Before You Attend a Viewing:

  • Budget – make sure to identify how much you and your housemates can realistically afford to pay each month, taking into account all the costs involved.

  • Area – know the area you’d ideally like to live in. Choosing where to live depends on how much you/ you and your housemates want to spend on rent, what location you want to be in (it is likely you will want to be close to the campus) and what transport links are available nearby.

  • Housemates – It’s a good idea to choose a group before you start searching for a place to call home. Think about which friends of yours would make good housemates. Once you have found your housemates, it’s a great idea to all agree on a rough budget before you begin looking for properties.

Tips For Attending a Viewing:

  • Property faults – Landlords may not always point out the faults of the property to you, so make sure you look out for signs of damp or mould, broken electrical switches or sockets and signs of pest infestation. Check everything twice over and take your time looking round for potential problems. Consider what the area is like in the day and at night.

  • Group viewings – If you are moving in with a larger group, it may be difficult to view a property at a time that suits everyone’s schedules. It may be that only some of your group can attend the viewing. But, the more viewing the property the better. Make sure the ones that go take photos and videos of the property to show those who can’t make the viewing. It will also remind yourself of what it looks like, especially if you are going to numerous viewings and want to compare.

  • Contract – You might feel under pressure to sign a contract straight away but make sure you read it through carefully before signing. Even better, your university may offer a contract check/ review service you can use. Make sure to check it includes how much the deposit and rent is, when it’s due, and what it covers (e.g. council tax, utility bills, and other dos and don’ts). Don’t be afraid to discuss points with your landlord/ letting agent that you disagree on or are unsure of. If they agree to change it, don’t just take their word. Ensure the contract’s changed too, so you’ve got proof.

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