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Living in private sector accommodation

Are you currently living in the private sector, and need help with your tenancy? We're here for advice and support should you need us.

Housing events, information sessions, campus talks and housing hub drop in sessions will start from October 2024. Check back for details.

Housing hub drop-in sessions

Issues with your housemates

Ending your tenancy

Contract checking

Maintenance issues

Moving out

What to expect on moving in

You should be provided with an inventory on the day you move in. This should list all of the items within and condition of the house. You are usually given seven days to check through everything thoroughly. The inventory is useful to compare the condition of the house at the beginning and end of the tenancy in order to dispute any charges when your deposit is returned. If you haven't been provided with an inventory, write one up yourself, sign and date it, and provide a copy to your landlord. You may also wish to take photos as additional evidence to record the condition of the property.

Moving in checklist (PDF , 299kb)

Your responsibility as a tenant

As a tenant you have responsibilities at the start of your tenancy and during your tenancy. It's important you are aware of these to secure your property and avoid any extra charges at the end of your tenancy.

Expand the drop down boxes below to view your responsibilities at the start of your tenancy and at the end of your tenancy.

  • To pay the deposit and any advance rent promptly.
  • To provide full details of all the tenants – name, institution, course, home and email address, home and mobile telephone number and next of kin.
  • To carefully check and sign your agreement and the inventory of the property within the first 7 days of the tenancy. Report any inaccuracies or discrepancies in writing to the landlord or agent within this timescale. 
  • To report any repairs or outstanding items required when you move in as soon as possible so that they can be attended to.
  • To apply online for exemption from Council Tax if applicable or (but only if requested), supply an exemption certificate(s) to the landlord. 
  • It is strongly recommended that you take out appropriate possessions insurance. Check first whether you are covered by your parent or guardian’s contents insurance.
  • There should be a calendar in your property detailing waste and recycling collection times by week. If you do not have one, email the council quoting your full address and they will provide a new copy free of charge.
  • To behave in a reasonable manner, with consideration for neighbours, landlords/agents.
  • To be responsible for the behaviour of any visitors to the property.
  • To not cause any disturbance in the community you live in, particularly before 7am and after 11pm.
  • To discuss any proposed changes of tenancy with the landlord and obtain their agreement prior to making any changes. 
  • To pay the rent promptly. In the event of genuine difficulties, you should discuss the problem with the landlord as soon as possible.
  • To report repairs to the landlord/agent promptly in writing (email is fine) and allow access for inspection, repairs and viewings.
  • To take care of the property, its furniture and equipment, and pay if necessary for any items damaged accidentally or otherwise.
  • To make use of any security measures provided.
  • To use fire detection and protection equipment responsibly, only for the purpose intended and only if safe to do so.
  • To keep the property adequately ventilated and heated to reduce risk of mould / damp from condensation. Ventilate the kitchen and bathroom when in use. Keep rooms well heated and ventilated where clothes are being dried. Further advice on Damp and Mould.

Any problems with your tenancy

Problems with your property can look like maintenance issues, landlord issues and pest issues, for example. If there is a problem with the property you're staying in, you need to inform your landlord immediately. Take photos of the problem and keep a record of communications such as emails, letters, and maintain notes of phone calls. The action your landlord or agent takes and how quickly the situation is addressed will depend on the severity of the problem. For example, if your house has not been adequately cleaned upon moving in, it could take a few days to arrange for a cleaning service to visit the property. If, however, there is a major issue such as no running water, your landlord or agent should act more quickly to resolve the problem.

Budget - what to consider

Are bills included or not?

If bills are included in your rent, this means you have no surprise costs and you can budget for the same rent total each month. However if you don’t have bills included, this can be cheaper if you find good utility providers, but you will need to ensure you split this equally with everyone you share the house with. Examples of bills you would need to consider include utility bills such as electricity, gas, water, wifi and TV licences.

Frequency of rent payments

Make sure you know when your rent payments are due. Lots of student private accommodation providers will offer payment plans, and a range of rent options. Will it be three payments that fall in line with your student finance, monthly or weekly? You will need to understand what works best for you and your budget, especially if you are working part time to help cover your living costs.

Deposit or advanced payment?

Most providers will either ask you to pay a deposit or advance payment to secure your booking. A deposit will be kept until the end of your tenancy, and given back to you in full if there are no damage charges or debt at the end of your contract. While an advanced payment will secure your booking and will then be taken off your first rent instalment. Either option is widely used, but you will need to keep in mind that you will need some money to pay for the initial booking which can be in a range of £99 to £350.

First rent payments

Most private housing runs on 51 week contracts from summer to summer. Due to this you will need to remember that your first rent payment may be in summer at the start of your tenancy, followed by three more instalments that usually align with your student finance payments. Rent instalments vary, so always check your contract before signing and budget accordingly.

Ending your tenancy early

  • When you sign a tenancy agreement, you are bound to the terms set out in the agreement. This usually means you must live in the property and pay for the entire term as stated in the contract.
  • Depending on the type of contract you have, your agreement might include a break clause which states how you can end your tenancy before the end of a fixed term. If you do not have a break clause, you can always negotiate ending your agreement with your landlord.
  • If you live with multiple other housemates under a joint agreement, breaking your contract could end the contract for everyone living in the house with you. To avoid this, you are normally expected to find a replacement tenant to fill your contract. If you do this, you will need to speak to your landlord about the replacement tenant. You can advertise your room by placing an advert on University Accommodation adverts, asking friends, or posting on social media.

Moving out

At the end of your fixed term you will need to make sure the property is clean and all rubbish is removed from the property. The City of York Council has information about responsibly dealing with end of term waste as a student. 

Before you move out, it’s important to check you have:

  • A copy of your tenancy agreement
  • Details of any utility accounts you’re responsible for
  • If you paid a deposit, information about that
  • Contacted the landlord a few weeks before the end of the tenancy to arrange an inspection visit. Use the inventory to check final condition.

On your last day:

  • Take any final meter readings for gas and / or electricity
  • Cancel any broadband accounts
  • Change your address for necessary documents and forwarding accounts
  • Take photographs of your room and the common areas of the house (this is to support getting your deposit back).
  • Leave property in the same clean/tidy condition as it was at start of tenancy.
  • You should all leave the property and return all your sets of keys by the agreed date.
  • If you will leave the property before the waste collection day, contact your landlord to discuss possible assistance with rubbish removal. They may be able to take rubbish to the household waste site on your behalf. Alternatively, contact City of York Council Contact Centre for advice: Tel +44 (0)1904 551551.

Your landlord will likely provide you with final communications or a check-out list of items that need to be completed when handing in your keys.

Housing hub drop-in sessions

  • If you are having any issues or have questions with your search in the private sector, our Student Housing Advisor is here to help
  • Housing Hub drop in sessions are weekly from Semester 1
  • Dates and times will be published soon.

Looking for legal advice?

The University cannot offer legal advice, however there is lots of information and guidance on the following websites:

Frequently asked questions

Have a browse through the following frequently asked questions and answers for further guidance.

Contract checking

During Semester 1 and Semester 2, we will be holding housing drop in sessions at The Baroness Hale Legal Clinic next to the Information Centre. This will include services where you can have your accommodation contract checked over by a Law School student or one of the housing advisors on site. To help you read through your tenancy agreement and make sure it’s right for you, you can use our helpful Tenancy agreement checking guide (PDF , 341kb) as well.

Maintenance issues

If there is a problem with the property, you need to inform your landlord or letting agent immediately. Take photos of the problem and keep a record of communications such as emails, letters, and maintaining notes of phone calls. The action your landlord or agent takes and how quickly the situation is addressed will depend on the severity of the problem.

Housing issues

If you and your housemates are struggling to get along, your College teams can help with housemate mediation, if that is something you feel might be helpful in getting everybody onto the same page. Contact your respective college for further information. This mediation could help you to come together as a group, and decide in a controlled environment what the best situation will be moving forward, whether that is to all live together, one of you leave, or a number of other scenarios, and agree as a group.

Budget and financial

If you pay an advanced payment when booking your accommodation, this will be deducted from your first rent payment. If you pay a security deposit, this secures your accommodation booking and once you move into the property it converts into a damage deposit. This will then help cover any costs for broken or damaged items at the end of your tenancy if there is any, otherwise the full/remaining amount will be returned to you once you move out. The timeline of this and where the deposit is held will be written into your tenancy agreement.

If you are on an individual tenancy, you are only responsible to pay for your own rent. However if you are on a joint tenancy, or anyone else is named on your contract, then anyone named is responsible for the payment. Therefore if one person refuses to pay, everyone in the property named on the contract must cover the owed amount. Therefore it is really important to ensure you all have trusted guarantors and people you wish to rent with. If in any doubt, always check your tenancy agreement.

If you are a full time registered student, you are exempt from paying council tax. This is not automatic and you will need to apply for a council tax exemption so you don’t receive a council tax bill. Even if you are living in a shared house, you will all need to individually apply to be exempt. You can find out further information on council tax exemptions here.

Most purpose built student accommodation (PBSA’S) and some letting agents will offer bills included within the rent, however it is more common for shared private houses to not have bills included. You will need to check the accommodation advert and your tenancy agreement to see if you have to pay bills separately.

A TV licence is required if you watch any live TV or BBC iPlayer. Note, TV licences are backdated to the beginning of the month.

If you are caught watching live TV on any device without a licence, fines can be up to £1,000.

If you are sharing your house as a part of a joint tenancy, then you will only need one TV licence for the entire property. If you each have individual tenancy contracts and you wish to watch live-streamed TV (whether on a TV, computer or phone) you will each have to pay for your own TV licence.

If you live with your landlord in the same property, you will need a licence to watch live TV in your own room.

Find out about Students and the TV licence.

The main things you will need to set up:

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Council Tax Exemption
  • TV Licence 
  • Contents Insurance

You can find out more detailed information on how to set your bills up on our useful moving in checklist.


Remember to update your details on the electoral register when you move house. Not only will this ensure you can vote in elections but it also enhances your credit rating, too.

Before you can rent a property you must prove you have the right to rent in the UK. You will be asked to show documentation to your landlord.

Still have questions?

Contact our Support and Advice Team

A first point of contact for advice on issues including financial support and money management, housing advice, academic progress issues and support for under-represented student groups.

You can self-refer to our Support and Advice team by completing the 
student self-referral form. A member of our team will contact you by email as soon as possible and if you are offered an appointment, this can be conducted by telephone, video call or in-person.

Complete a self-referral form