Private Rented FAQs

Here you will find answers to questions you might have about private rented accommodation. If you can’t find the answer to your questions then please contact us and we will be happy to help.



Looking for Accommodation

Can I come and look at private rented accommodation if that is my first choice?

Will I get any help in finding private rented accommodation for my second year?

I haven't found anyone to share private rented accommodation with, what should I do?

I'm going on a work placement as part of my course of study, but need somewhere to live before I go, what do I do?

What is the difference between Accredited and Non-Accredited private rented accommodation?

What's the next step, after I've found some private rented accommodation I like the sound of?

Is there anyone who can check my contract before I sign it?

What is my deposit for?

What's Council Tax? Do I have to pay it?

Can I get a bus pass for travelling to my private rented house?

Once I have signed a tenancy agreement for private rented accommodation can I leave the property before the end of the contract?

Life in Private Rented Accommodation

What is provided in the property?

How will my rent be collected?

Will I be responsible for the bills in the property?

I am going away for a few days, do I need to tell anyone?

What do I do if I have problems with my private rented house?

Whom do I contact if items are stolen?

I have accepted a room in a property in the private sector. I have just arrived and it is uninhabitable. What should I do?

I have just moved into my private rented house and do not like it. What can I do?

I have signed a contract for a room in a private rented house but would like to live in Hall. What can I do?









Looking for accommodation

Can I come and look at private rented accommodation if that is my first choice?

If you do not want to live in University Accommodation we can help with your search for private rented accommodation. Please refer to the Private Rented section of our website for full details.

If you identify accommodation which you would consider taking, we advise that you discuss meeting with your potential landlord as soon as is convenient to you. When you arrange to see a private property you should always tell somebody where you are going and what time you expect to return, and if at all possible take a friend with you.

Will I get any help in finding private rented accommodation for my second year?

The Residences Service has lists of private rented accommodation advertised under the SASSH accreditation scheme, run jointly by the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and Southampton City Council. We first publish the lists in February of each year to coincide with our Housing Awareness Week and then continue to update them throughout the year. The list is available online at www.sassh.co.uk. For more information, please see the main Private Rented Accommodation page.

I haven’t found anyone to share private rented accommodation with, what should I do?

The SASSH website includes a message board tab where you can view messages left by fellow students with regard to looking for properties or if they have a room available in a house they have already secured.

I’m going on a work placement as part of my course of study, but need somewhere to live before I go, what do I do?

The Residences Service can provide lists of local accommodation. Most landlords will not consider short term lets but some may do. We can also provide information about agencies that offer short term contracts.

What is the difference between Accredited and Non-Accredited private rented accommodation?

The University of Southampton runs an accreditation scheme in conjunction with Southampton Solent University and Southampton City Council. All properties that the University advertises on its private rented lists have to join the accreditation scheme.  Accredited properties will comply with the standards of the SASSH scheme.

A copy of the SASSH standards can be viewed on the Residences Service website under the private rented section.

What’s the next step, after I’ve found some private rented accommodation I like the sound of?

Visit as many properties as you can so that you can make an informed decision. For advice on what questions to ask your prospective landlord and points to consider when looking for private rented accommodation, please see our Private Rented Accommodation guide available in hard copy from the Student Services Centre and as a download from our website.

Is there anyone who can check my contract before I sign it?

The Residences Service and Student Union Advice Centre are both able to help you with your contract. We can also provide a sample contract that the University recommends. At peak times you may need to book appointments and leave a copy of the contact for us to look through.

What is my deposit for?

If your landlord asks for a deposit before the contract commences this is known as a retainer or a holding or reservation deposit.  Many landlords will ask for a holding deposit. Once the tenancy starts, if the holding deposit is not refunded this normally becomes a damage deposit.  From April 2007 damage deposits need to be ‘protected’ in a government recognised and authorised scheme.  The landlord is able to claim damages to the property other than fair wear and tear, and in some circumstances any unpaid rent. To release the deposit from the scheme, both the landlord and tenant must sign an agreement. If there are any disputes they will be passed onto a third party.

What’s Council Tax? Do I have to pay it?

Council Tax is a local tax, agreed by the Government and set by councils to help pay for local services like policing and refuse collection. It applies to all domestic properties, including houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes, mobile homes or houseboats, whether owned or rented.

Full-time registered students are not liable to pay council tax. You must supply proof that you are a student to your landlord, who will be able to forward the information to the council. Anyone who is over 18 and not a registered student will be liable to pay council tax. Please contact your local City Council for more information.

Can I get a bus pass for travelling to my private rented house?

You can buy a bus pass from the UniLink Office on the Highfield Campus.  Please see the Uni-link website for more information.

Once I have signed a tenancy agreement for private rented accommodation can I leave the property before the end of the contract?

You will need to refer to your individual contract for exact details about terminating the contract early. Most Assured Shorthold Tenancies will not allow you to stop paying rent before the end of your contract. If you are unsure, bring your contract to either the Residences Service or the Students Union Advice Centre for further advice.

Life in private rented accommodation

What is provided in the property?

You will need the landlord to confirm what will be provided. An inventory - signed and agreed by both you and the landlord - is a good way to record what is provided and is a useful document for both you and the landlord.

How will my rent be collected?

Your landlord will be able to provide you with details of how he would like to receive payment.  The most usual method of payment is made via standing order direct from your bank account. If the landlord asks that you pay in cash, please ensure that you keep a receipt for all money given to the landlord.

Will I be responsible for the bills in the property?

Some landlords may offer contracts that include your utility bills. This is quite rare however and in most properties you will be expected to take responsibility for the bills. Make sure that when you arrive you take meter readings and ask your landlord if he has already contacted the utility company on your behalf.

I am going away for a few days, do I need to tell anyone?

You should always tell your housemates if you are going away and live in private rented sector accommodation, as they may become worried if you seem to have disappeared!

What do I do if I have problems with my private rented house?

The Residences Service can provide you with advice to help you deal with any problem that you might have. Whilst we cannot guarantee to solve the problem for you, we will be able to give you advice and information, pointing you in the right direction to get any additional help you may need.

You can also contact the Students Union Advice Centre at suaic@soton.ac.uk or +44 (0) 23 8059 2085.

Whom do I contact if items are stolen?

If items are stolen from your room in Hall then please let the Residences Team know as soon as possible. If items are stolen from your private rented house you need to inform your landlord or agent. In all cases, you also need to make a report to the Police, whose central switchboard number is 0845 045 4545.

I have accepted a room in a property in the private sector. I have just arrived and it is uninhabitable. What should I do?

If you are not able to stay in your private rented property please contact the Residences Service as we may be able to provide you with emergency temporary accommodation. However, please be aware that depending on the circumstances you may not be able to break the contract you have signed for your private house, so please contact us for advice before taking any action.

I have just moved into my private rented house and do not like it. What can I do?

You will probably have signed a legally binding contract making you liable for the rent for the house until a specific date. This would mean that you are unlikely to be able simply to break the contract and move out without paying any more rent. However, depending on the problem there may be ways to make things better for you in the house. You should contact the Residences Service or the Students' Union Advice Centre for advice.

I have signed a contract for a room in a private rented house but would like to live in Hall. What can I do?

We may be able to offer you a room in Hall depending on availability. However, it is likely that you will not be able to be released from your contract in the private sector unless your circumstances are exceptional. This could mean that you would be paying two rents if you were to move into Hall. Please contact the Students' Union Advice Centre or Residences Service for advice before making any decisions.