Establishing your accommodation budget
The cost of private rented accommodation varies considerably between university towns. A survey by www.accommodationforstudents.com in March 2007 showed the average rent for student accommodation to be £60/ week although this encompasses large regional variations. London is the most expensive area for student to live at £102/week with the cheapest being Crewe at just £37/week.
Your university’s Accommodation Office should be able to give you some approximate figures for your area. Whilst we can’t tell you exactly what the rent will be for your area we can give you some general advice and guidance on what to include when working out your budget.
The general rule is that cost per sharer falls as the number of people sharing increases but this tends to be capped at 4 people. Most student houses capable of sleeping 5 or more people will be classed as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and fall under the mandatory licensing scheme. This gives the Landlord a considerable administrative burden which will be recouped through the rent charged. Many local authorities will have their own licensing schemes for smaller houses in multiple occupation.
Paying the rent has to be your number one priority and remember that once you sign a Tenancy Agreement you are committing yourself to paying the rent for the term of that agreement (even if you move out!).
Gas and electricity may add as much as £10 a week to your expenditure during the winter months. Encourage your house mates to preserve energy. If they think you are tight tell them that you are concerned about your carbon footprint.
From 1st October 2008 all tenants moving in to a rented property must be provided with an Energy Performance Certificate. You will then be able to take how energy efficient a property is into account when viewing. The certificates are valid for 10 years although may be renewed voluntarily by a Landlord at any time.
If a property is rented on a shared basis then only one TV License will be required. If you have an individual tenancy for your room but share the communal area then you will need a license for each TV in the house.
If you go home for the summer you can claim a pro-rata refund on your TV license for that time.
Full time students are exempt from paying council tax. Your university's Accommodation Office should issue you with a Council Tax Exemption Certificate. You should give a copy of this to the Local Authority to prove that you are a full time student.
Try to avoid sharing with part-time students as they are not exempt. Even though full time students are disregarded when the charge is calculated the household may decide that it is unfair for the part-time student to pay the entire Council Tax bill on their own.
Student properties offer rich pickings for burglars. You need to protect your valuables with contents insurance. There are a number of insurance companies that offer specialist student policies. Ask your university's Accommodation Office if they have any special offers that they can pass on to you.
Student Budget Calculator
Why not test your knowledge by taking our Student Accommodation Quiz?