Many students live in university accommadation in the first year of their course and then move out into private accommodation after their first year at University. You can choose to live in private accommodation in your first year and should carefully read the information on this page.
How to find a property
House hunting event
The University Accommodation Services run a house hunting event in September each year to help students who want to stay in private accommodation. Further details will be provided on the Accommodation Services websites during the summer.
Birmingham student pad
The website advertises properties for landlords for further information please visit the Birmingham student pad website.
A student letting agency run by the Guild of Students. The SHAC provides details of student properties and does not charge any agency fees.
The Guild of Students runs a housing fair each year to provide support and help to students looking for private accommodation. The fair takes place in January each year and is attended by landlords and agencies, the Police and Fire Service and other support organisations.
Estate or letting agents
Estate or letting agents will provide details of properties available to rent. There are many letting agents located close to the University. Agencies often charge non-refundable fees so you should compare prices.You should also check that you do not use an agent that has been struck off the Midlands Landlord's Accreditation Scheme .
Where do most students live?
Selly Oak is of the most popular areas for students to live, as it is close to the university campus. Most of the houses are terraced houses (each house is attached to another house on each side), ranging from 3 to 5 bedrooms, although they are some larger properties. Because the area is so close to the University the rent is higher compared to other areas. However the rent can vary according to the condition of the property.
Selly Oak has lots of useful amenities for students with cafes and fast food outlets, shops, pubs and several supermarkets.
Selly Park is slightly further away from the University campus, however it is still within walking distance. This area is less student based and quieter than Selly Oak. As it is further from the University the price of housing is slightly lower then the most popular student areas. They are some local shops, however as Selly Oak is relatively close by you would be able to use the local amenities it offers.
Harborne is also very popular with students, especially those at the medical school. Depending on which part of Harborne a property is located in it can be between 5 - 40 minute walk to campus. Harborne also offers good local services with a busy main street of shops (including some supermarkets), fast food outlets, pubs and some banks.
Other areas where student accommodation is available include Stirchley, Moseley, Balsall Heath and Kings Heath. Fewer students tend to stay in these areas because they are further away from campus and you would need to use public transport to travel to University, however the rent is lower in these areas.
Additional costs to include in your budget
Bills for gas, electricity, internet and telephone
You need to check if your contract is inclusive or exclusive of bills:
- Inclusive - this means that some or all bills are included in your rent, you should check if there is a limit as to how much is covered. This can make it easier to budget and is helpful if you are living with strangers.
- Exclusive - this means bills are not covered. It will be your responsibility to make sure bills are paid in full and on time. This can be a difficult arrangement if you do not know the people you are living with well.
By law you are required to have a TV licence if you use a TV or any other device to receive or record TV programmes, including a PC with a broadcast card. If you do not have TV licence, you could be taken to court and fined up to £1000. To find out the cost of a TV licence and how to apply for one visit the TV licensing website.
Although not a legal requirement you should insure your belongings before you move into your new property, this is called contents insurance. If you decide not to insure your belongings you are taking a risk as students are easy targets for thieves because they are likely to have a large amount of electronic equipment in one house.
Endsleigh provides insurance specifically for students and you can also search for other companies on line using comparison websites such as moneysupermarket, and confused.com.
Council tax is a charge made by local councils to help pay for local servivces such as the police and fire service, street lighting and rubbish collection. Certain individuals may not have to pay council tax - this is called an exemption.
If you are a registered student and are staying in a property where everyone is a full-time student you will be exempt from paying Council Tax. You will need to notify the council of this.
If you are in writing up status, you may have to pay council tax you should read the information provided by your local council, for students living in Birmingham this information is on the Birmingham council tax page.
If you are living with non-students, or a student in writing up stage of their PhD then council tax may be charged for your property. If you are a full-time international student and are living with only your spouse and dependents then you should all be exempt from council tax.
Key points you need to know
- Contracts are legally binding - this means that once you have entered into the contract for example by signing a contract or moving into the property, you are legally required to meet the conditions set out in the contract.
- Contract length - most contracts are for a fixed period, which is often for 1 year. Unless the contract states that you can end the tenancy early, you will have to pay rent for the property for the full contract period even if you move out early. If you need to leave the property early you should seek advice from the ARC.
- Proof - any changes to the contract or additional agreements must be written into the contract before you sign it, as proof that this has been agreed. You must make sure that you are given a copy of the signed contract and proof of any money you have paid.
- Your contract can be checked - we strongly advise that you ask the ARC to check your contract before you sign it.
- Administration fee / credit check fee - if you find your property through an agent you will most likely have to pay some form of administrative charges, these are normally non-refundable.
- Payments - Normally in Birmingham students pay rent one month in advance. You will also be asked for a deposit which is usually 4-6 weeks rent. Never pay rent for the whole year in advance. All payments should be made by cheque or bank transfer.
- View the property - do not sign a contract or agree to move into a house before seeing it. Do not feel pressurised as there are lots of properties in the Birmingham area and rooms available all year round.
- Problems with your accommodation - if you are having problems with your accommodation or want to leave your contract early you can get advice from the ARC.