When should I start looking?
This can vary, depending upon your circumstances.
Returning students (entering their second / third / fourth years)
The Student Accommodation office releases its own private sector housing lists for the coming academic year on HouseSearch in early January. As the website acts as an advertising medium, it is the responsibility of the student to make contact with landlords and view properties they are interested in. The trend amongst letting agents is to release their Housing Lists as early as November and December. This is done due to the strong competition in the private housing sector, and lists are published early in order to secure students into taking houses as soon as possible. As a consequence students can sometimes fall prey to hype and panic, driven by the false belief that by not arranging accommodation by the end of December you will at best be compromising your choice of housing and at worst you will fail to find a house altogether. Given the current market, this is simply not true. We would not recommend complacency, but there is no urgency to seek housing before the start of term 2.
Our general advice to students is to take care to make an informed choice. Do not be pressured by landlords, agents or your peers into signing a legal contract which you are not happy with, and do not hand over money until you are happy to do so, and know under what circumstances, if any, the money would be refunded. Get this confirmed in writing. Though you can look early on we do not recommend that you do so, and there is certainly no need to.
Leaving your house-hunting until the summer vacation will, however, make the selection of properties available more limited.
First year students who do not wish to live in university halls of residence, or who have applied for halls late and do not wish to stay on the waiting list will typically start looking for private sector accommodation in August or September.
When can I expect my contract to start?
The majority of tenancies for returning and continuing students will begin in June / July, lasting for approximately 12 months, although some landlords will offer accommodation for a shorter period. A contract from late September to mid-June would be the minimum required to cover the full academic year.
If you are looking for private sector accommodation as a first year student, it is worth contacting Student Accommodation to enquire about the Student Housemate Scheme. This can help you get in touch with other first year students who are seeking accommodation in the private sector. Ordinarily, first-year students would not be expected to sign tenancy agreements which begin before September, and certainly not before it is clear that a student will definitely be able to attend their course.