There are more houses than students in the areas surrounding the University of Birmingham – so don’t feel pressured to sign a contract because you feel all the ‘good’ properties will be gone. Take your time to find the right house for you.
House-hunting starter pack
Find a location that suits you all. Have a look around different areas, taking note of the transports links that can help you get about.
UoB Property Search
We encourage you to use UoB Property Search – the official University of Birmingham off-campus search engine – to browse available properties. The site is powered by StudentPad and managed by Community Living to ensure you find the best homes in the area.
Only members of our Lettings Membership Scheme (LMS), which recognises good practice from landlords and lettings agents, can advertise on UoB Property Search. This means that you can rent with confidence, knowing that your prospective landlord or agent is recognised and trusted in the Birmingham community.
Book a viewing
If you find a property on UoB Property Search that you like the look of, book a viewing. Simply grab the landlord or agent’s details from their listing and give them a ring. When choosing the time and date, make sure as many of your housemates can go as possible – you don’t want one person making a decision before everybody else has seen the property!
1. Choose your new housemates
They say that you only get to know somebody when you live with them…and they couldn’t be more right. So think about people’s habits, hobbies, routines and personalities before you decide to move in together – best friends do not necessarily make the best housemates!
Who your future housemates are will influence your budget, the number of bedrooms you need, the amount of kitchen storage space, the location…pretty much everything!
2. Going on a viewing
Keep an eye out for damage to the property, including loose carpet, cracked window or door frames, damp and mould on the walls or ceilings, and broken furniture.
Student houses are especially vulnerable to burglary due to the high numbers of valuable items. Check the following things:
- Do the doors and windows shut correctly?
- Is there at least one (preferably two) secure lock on your front and back door?
- Does the house have a burglar alarm and does it work?
- Is the garden adequately fenced and secured?
Fire and gas safety
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to check your appliances and make sure they are working and safe. You can ask your landlord for a copy of the gas certificate before you move into the property.
- Are there fire alarms in the kitchen and communal areas? Do they work?
- Does the house have fire doors (you can spot a fire door from the blue ‘fire door’ sticker or because it swings shut automatically)?
- Is there a quick escape route out of the property?
- Do the plug sockets appear to be safe and working?
The energy performance certificate should be provided free of charge. It is a legal requirement. It will be provided to you at the beginning of the contract period, but you can also often find it online when you book to go on a viewing; this way you can estimate whether your future bills will be expensive or more affordable.
3. Understanding the costs
Rent is obviously going to be an important part of your contract, so make sure you can all afford to pay the final sum.
On average, you can expect to pay a minimum of £115 per person per week in Selly Oak, not including bills. You may find that rent varies depending on the finish, size, and location of the property. For example, houses closer to the University tend to be more expensive.
- You will be asked to pay your rent by standing order. This means that you have to manually set up a regular payment to the letting agent’s or landlord’s chosen bank account.
- Contracts normally start from 1 July. Therefore, even though you don’t plan to move in until September, you are likely to be liable for rent over the summer period.
- Calculate the correct monthly rent instead of guessing. To get an accurate monthly figure, multiply a week’s rent by 52 and divide by 12.
Deposits are the next thing to consider. Your deposit usually can’t be more than five weeks’ rent and is paid to the landlord or letting agent to secure them against any damage you may cause to the property, or unpaid rent during your tenancy.
- Make sure you budget for the deposit before you sign your contract: it’s a considerable sum of money to pay upfront.
- The landlord or letting agent must protect your deposit by paying it into one of three of the government authorised schemes within 30 days: Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, or Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
- Think about the rough amount you can feasibly set aside for bills, food, and other living costs, such as streaming services or nights out.
- There may be some additional, non-refundable admin and reservation fees depending on who you rent your house from. There can also be some hidden costs to consider to.
If you don’t find your home right away on the first viewing, stay confident and keep booking viewings until you find the right one. You may have to compromise on something, especially if you’re in a larger group, but make sure it’s right for everybody and that nobody is forced into making the wrong decision for them.
4. Signing your contract
Once you’ve found your new home, you’ll need to sign a contract to lay out all the terms and conditions of you renting the property. The most common student contract type is called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (you may see this abbreviated to ‘AST’) and, once it is signed, you are legally bound by it, making it very difficult to get out of.
We recommend using our contract-checking tool before signing your contract. If you’re still confused after using this, book an appointment and we can point out any odd phrases and explain any jargon to make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for. Any reputable landlord or letting agent will allow you to take the contract away to read and understand for 24 hours – so get it checked for free before you sign.
When signing a contract, it is likely that you will be asked to provide a guarantor based in the UK who can guarantee the rent payment if you are unable to pay.
Usually this will be a parent or guardian, but if you are unable to provide a UK-based guarantor then there are also guarantor companies who can act as a guarantor for a fee.
Some letting agents and landlords may let you pay more of the rent money upfront – but before you pay any extra money over, or if you have any concerns or questions about guarantors, please get in touch with us or Guild Advice for information and support.
Right To Rent checks
Landlords are prohibited, by law, from letting a property to an individual who does not have the right to remain in the UK for the duration of their tenancy.
International students: you will need to secure your immigration status in order to secure a tenancy.
UK students: be prepared to show proof of your right to rent property in the UK, such as a passport or birth certificate.
For more information, please visit the gov.uk website.