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Private accommodation

Right to Rent Checks

From February 2016, private landlords have to 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 you have one. If you are living in a halls or residence, such as the intercollegiate halls or Student Homes, you will not have to show evidence of your right to be in the UK. Further information on the UKCISA website.

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 generally not advisable to find and pay for a room before you get here.  Therefore, if you are planning on looking for private accommodation, you should make sure you have short-term accommodation arranged for the first few weeks. 

Where should I look for private accommodation?

University of London Housing Services

There is a range of private accommodation on offer in London. The ULHS website includes an on-line Housing Database, listings of University of London managed housing, as well as useful information on costs, areas, and what to look for when renting privately. 

To use the Housing Database you need to register so that ULHS can verify your details. When asked for your student ID number, as a prospective student you will need to select the option 'I don't know my ID number' and then fill in further information about your offer at the school. ULHS aim to confirm your details and give you access to the database within 24 hours (excluding weekends). 

If you are in London, and want to visit ULHS in person, please go to the 4th floor of The University of London Union building, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY (opposite Waterstone's bookstore). The ULU building is less than 5 minutes walk from LSHTM's main Keppel Street building. 

University of London Student Homes 

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 can be a problem for some 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 Kings (the lead instituion) is able to act as guarantor.

London Student Housing Guide

This is full of useful information for students considering private accommodation, including the possibility to make contact with other students in London who are looking for a house to share through the Student Flatsharing Message Board. Please be aware that the messageboard is open to any student coming to study in London, both undergraduate and postgraduate. 

Flatsharing Events

The University of London Housing Services' 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.

University Managed Housing

The University of London manages some properties which might be of interest including the very reasonably priced Clandon House, which is popular with postgraduate students. 

Flatshare Websites

Many students use popular websites which advertise flatshares and also entire properties to search for accommodation. However, be aware that fraudsters frequently target students (especially Gumtree and Craigslist), often by offering deals which seem too good to be true (because they are).  Be extremely cautious about transferring money to someone in advance of actually seeing the property. Advice from London’s Metropolitan Police (pdf).

Other property websites include:

  • Flatshare.com
  • Spareroom.co.uk
  • Loot.com
  • Rightmove.co.uk
  • Zoopla.co.uk
  • UK.Easyroommate.com
  • Moveflat.com

Letting Agents

We suggest you use one of the letting agents who are registered with the University of London Housing Services and have signed a Code of Good Practice.

You will come across other letting agents; it is a good idea to check if they are a member of a professional body.  Reputable professional bodies include:

  • ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents
  • NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme)
  • NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents)

Letting agents should not ask for money just to show you a property! It is not against the law for letting agents to charge an administration fee but this will usually be added to your deposit payment when you sign a contract.  Sometimes a letting agent may ask for a 'holding deposit' before you sign the contract and agree not to show the property to any other prospective tenants. If this happens, the fee should be refundable but you should make sure to get the agreement in writing.

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

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 this will usually mean you pay a more reasonable amount of rent.

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 contacts 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 London Student Housing Guide.

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

It is normal for landlords to require one month’s rent in advance, and a refundable damage deposit (usually one month’s rent). In addition, as mentioned above, it is normal for letting agents to charge a fee once you have agreed to rent a property.  More on deposits check the London Student Housing Guide.

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 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 account.  Sometimes, landlords will ask you to pay more than one month’s rent in advance.  For more on this, check the London Student 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 good, if you can be bothered to travel there, and there are plenty of department stores on Oxford Street, a few minutes walk from LSHTM. Charity shops are also good for crockery – most main shopping streets in London will have at least one charity shop (e.g. Oxfam). Near LSHTM, there are some on Goodge Street. You could also use Click2Campus who 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 only by full-time students registered at a UK institution (including those on a student dependant's visa), 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.

Therefore adults in private accommodation are usually expected to pay council tax but full-time students are exempt from paying council tax for the period they are studying. If your partner has a visa as your dependant, then they will also be exempt from paying. If you have any queries about this once you begin the course, you should contact the Student Adviser.

Childcare and schools

If you have children, where you live may 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. Most children from around the age of 4 will be eligible for a free school place (in a UK state school).  Younger children will need to be in paid child-care (nursery, child minder or nanny) - and childcare in London is notoriously expensive so be prepared!