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Private accommodation

 

Academic Year 2020/21

In light of COVID-19 and the fact Term 1 teaching will be delivered wholly online in 2020/21, students are advised not to sign up for private rented accommodation until they can be sure they will be able to commit to the tenancy contract. Students aiming to come to London for Term 2 in January 2021 and wishing to stay in private accommodation are advised to start house hunting closer to the time, as the private rental market in London is very fast paced. For more information about the academic year 2020-21, please check our COVID-19 advice for applicants and offer holders FAQs.

Private accommodation is the most popular choice for LSHTM students. As a rule, you need to be in London to find private accommodation – it is not advisable to pay for a room before you get here and view the property. Therefore, if you are planning on looking for private accommodation, you should make sure you have short-term accommodation arranged for at least the first couple of weeks. 

The University of London Housing Services (ULHS) offer a range of services to assist and support students who are looking for and living in private accommodation in London:

  • Helping you find accommodation. Online database advertising properties and rooms from registered private accommodation providers. ULHS will be launching their new Property Platform & App on 11 August 2020 to help you find properties and rooms from verified landlords, agents and other accommodation providers. Please check their website for further information.
  • Contract checking. Before signing contracts for private accommodation, students can ask one of the ULHS Housing Advice Team for assistance. They will give you guidance on what to look out for when you are renting privately and check the contract for unfair clauses.
  • Legal Advice. ULHS experienced Housing Advice Team is dedicated to supporting students who experience problems in private accommodation and offers advice on a range of issues including deposit disputes, disrepair and problems with letting agents.
  • Events & webinars. ULHS run a selection of events for students, including flatmate finder events and their annual Housing Fair, which this year will be taking place virtually on 13 August 2020. They also run a series of webinars throughout the summer offering advice and practical tips in finding and securing accommodation in London, particularly in light of the current situation.

You can also check out their Private Housing Guide, with everything you need to know about finding, securing and overcoming problems in private accommodation.

Where should I look for private accommodation?

University of London Housing Services

There is a wide range of private accommodation on offer in London. The ULHS will soon be launching their Property Platform & App on 11 August 2020, which contains offers of accommodation from verified landlords, letting agents and other accommodation providers. Please check their website for further information. These are primarily for long term lettings (more than 6 months), but there are also some short let options. All landlords and letting agents registered with ULHS are signed up to their Code of Practice, and ULHS only works with reputable letting agents who are members of a professional body/redress scheme – more information here.

The new ULHS Property Platform & App will allow students to quickly and seamlessly book landlord accommodation via the App without the need to be in London and undertaking a viewing, as accommodation providers are verified and their property details checked prior to going live on the Platform & App. However, if you do have the opportunity to be in London prior to booking long term accommodation, it is always preferable to view the property/room in person and check the area where it is located to make sure you like it.

The ULHS website also contains links to registered independent halls of residence, short term accommodation options and other housing options, as well as useful tips and information on costs, areas, and what to look for when renting privately.

If you are in London, and want to visit ULHS in person, please go to the 4th floor of Student Central, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY. Student Central is less than 5 minutes’ walk from LSHTM's main building in Keppel Street. 

University of London Student Homes

***The Student Homes scheme is not available for the 2020/21 academy year***

Individual rooms in shared properties are available to LSHTM students in private accommodation managed by University of London Housing Services.  

The properties are located within easy commuting distance of LSHTM and are good value for money. Rental agreements in these properties will not require a UK-based guarantor*, which makes this a great option for international students. Rooms can be rented individually so you do not have to be part of a group and you can make an application from outside the UK.

*Students on the MSc Vet Epi and MSc One Health courses will have to provide their own UK-based guarantor as LSHTM is not the lead institution for these courses. Students on the MSc Global Mental Health should enquire via Student Homes whether King’s College London (the lead institution) is able to act as guarantor.

University Managed Housing

The University of London manages the Gower Street apartments which might be of interest.

Gower Street consists of studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom flats, located under 200 meters from the School's Keppel Street building, and are for postgraduate students only. 

If you wish to apply for one of the self-catered apartments in Gower Street please book a viewing by contacting ULHS Property Management Unit on pmu@london.ac.uk. There is no formal application procedure and the accommodation is offered on a first-come first-served basis.

Flatmate Finder Facebook Group

ULHS host a flatmate finder Facebook group where you can post adverts for rooms in your shared student flats/houses or find other students to go flat hunting with. It is designed exclusively for students in London (both undergraduate and postgraduate). All members will need to be registered with the ULHS database to join the group.

Flatsharing Events

ULHS hold flatsharing events for those interested in private accommodation. Events are a really good opportunity to meet other students arriving in London who could turn out to be potential housemates for the upcoming year.

Flatshare Websites

Many students (and Londoners) use popular websites to find rooms in flat shares or entire properties to rent. 

While many adverts are genuine, it is important to note that there is little regulation over these websites and who can advertise on them, which means that scams and offers of poor quality accommodation can be common. Fraudsters will often target students, in particular international students, through adverts on these sites, by offering deals which seem too good to be true (because they are).

We would strongly recommend you seek advice from ULHS before paying any money or signing any contract for any property or room found via one of these websites.

Here is further advice by the Metropolitan Police and the National Union of Students.

Here we list some of the most popular websites:

LSHTM has no direct association with any of the websites listed above nor has it vetted any of the landlords or letting agents that advertise on these websites. LSHTM shall not be held liable for any loss or damage (however caused) suffered as a result of any dealings you have with any of the listed online accommodation sites.

Letting Agents

We suggest you use one of the letting agents which are registered with the University of London Housing Services and have signed up to their Code of Good Practice.

When coming across other letting agents, it is a good idea to check if they are a member of a professional body/redress scheme, such as:

  • ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents)
  • NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme)
  • NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents)
  • RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors)
  • TPO (The Property Ombudsman)
Use your contacts

This may sound obvious but it’s worth contacting everyone you know and asking them to ask around.  Most people know someone who knows someone who lives in London, after all.

Other things to consider

Right to Rent Checks

From February 2016, private landlords must check that anyone they are renting a property to has immigration permission to be in the UK. Therefore, you should expect to show proof of your nationality and visa, if applicable. Further information is available on the UKCISA website.

Tenant Fees Act 2019

Landlords or letting agents should not ask for money just to show you a property. The new Tenant Fees Act bans most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants in the private rented sector in England. The ban on tenant fees applies to new or renewed tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 June 2019.

From 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants for new contracts are:

  • Rent
  • A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent (where the total annual rent is less than £50,000). A tenancy deposit is money held by the landlord (or letting agent) as security during the period of the tenancy and reserved for any damages or defaults by the tenant.
  • A refundable holding deposit* capped at no more than 1 week’s rent
  • Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
  • Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax
  • A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement

Such fees as inventory fees, referencing fees, additional charges for having a guarantor, admin fees, fees for drawing up a contract, credit checks, are all banned for new tenancies from 1 June 2019.

More information about the new Tenant Fees Act can be found here.

*Sometimes a landlord or letting agent may ask for a 'holding deposit' before you sign the contract in order to take the property ‘off the market’ and ‘hold’ it for you. Holding deposits might not be refundable if the prospective tenant decides to pull out of a tenancy agreement before signing the contract, but it should be fully refundable if the landlord or letting agent decides to rent it to someone else. Generally, once the tenancy contract has been signed, the holding deposit is either put towards the security deposit or refunded to the tenant. It's important to have a holding deposit agreement in writing which sets out the relevant terms and conditions.

Can I bring my family or partner?

If you are planning to live in private accommodation, there are usually no restrictions about bringing your partner and/or children, but you should be clear with the landlord about who will be living with you. Make sure that you think about your budget as living with your partner and/or children will increase the amount of rent you have to spend. You may want to consider living further away from the school (Zones 2 onwards) as, as a rule of thumb, the further out from central London you are, the cheaper the rent is.

What sort of contract will I need to sign?

Generally it will be what’s called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.  This is generally for a minimum of 6 months, after which both you and the landlord can give a month’s notice to terminate the contract.  Some contracts are longer, however, so make sure you know what you are signing up to. University of London Housing Services offer a free contract checking service and explain exactly what the contract means – you should not feel pressured to sign a contract without understanding it fully. Read more about contracts in the Private Housing Guide.

What will I be required to pay when I sign the contract?

It is normal for landlords to require 4 to 8 weeks’ rent in advance and a refundable security/damage deposit (capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent for new tenancies signed after 1 June 2019). For more information on deposits, check the Private Housing Guide.

From 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants for new contracts are:

  • Rent
  • A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent (where the total annual rent is less than £50,000)
  • A refundable holding deposit capped at no more than 1 week’s rent
  • Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
  • Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax
  • A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement

For more information on the Tenant Fees Act 2019, please check out this guidance for tenants.

Will I need a guarantor?

Some landlords will require you to name a UK-based guarantor (someone who is legally responsible for paying the rent under the terms of the contract if, for any reason, you are not able to pay). This can be problematic for international students who do not necessarily have someone in the UK they can use (and LSHTM cannot act as guarantor). One way round this is to show that you have sufficient funds in your bank account. Sometimes, landlords or agents will ask you to pay more than one month’s rent in advance or to pay your rent in a lump sum. For more on this, check the Private Housing Guide.

Does private accommodation come with furniture?

Generally yes, but you will probably need to provide your own bedding, cooking equipment, crockery, etc. IKEA is a good option, and there are plenty of department stores in Oxford Street, a few minutes’ walk from LSHTM. You could also use Click2Campus which create student essentials packs and deliver to your accommodation.

What is Council Tax and do I need to pay it?

Council Tax is set by local government and is used to fund public services such as police and refuse collection. The tax is applied to whole properties rather than to individuals, and the amount will depend on the value of the property. If a property is occupied solely by full-time students registered at a UK institution, the property is usually considered exempt from council tax. However, if the house is occupied by one or more non-students (including part-time students), it becomes liable for council tax. More information on the UKCISA website.

Childcare and schools

If you have children, the decision of where to live might also be influenced by childcare and schooling options. Download our information sheet on Childcare options near to LSHTM but please be aware that these will be very popular so you may need to explore other options. Please note that childcare in London (nursery, childminder/nanny) can be very expensive.