Coming to University might mean the first time away from home, so we've put together some information to help you get to grips with renting, living with housemates and much more.

Housing Advice

Being at University will mean the first time away from home for some students, so we have put together some information to help you get to grips with renting, living with housemates and much more.

At Queen Mary University of London there is a Housing Services department who can help you with a wide range of housing issues, including looking for accommodation on or off campus, problems with your landlord, issues between tenants, legal issues and emergency accommodation.

If you are looking for advice about a particular housing issue, this list explains where you can go for advice about a range of issues, either from Queen Mary Housing Services, the Advice and Counselling Service or an external agency.

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, you should contact Queen Mary Housing Services or the Advice and Counselling Service directly for advice. We have also included some information further down this page that may help.

Residential Services and Support

The University offers a range of accommodation to students. You can find information on their website about the types of accommodation on offer, making an application, the current Housing Policy, residential fees, arrival procedures, and family accommodation.

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Residential Support

Residential Support staff aim to provide support for the wellbeing of students living in halls, encouraging a spirit of community and cooperation that supports success in students’ personal and academic lives.

residential-support@qmul.ac.uk
020 7882 6470

Residences Reception
France House
Westfield Way
London, E1 4NP

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House hunting can be a daunting experience, especially when it is your first time looking. We’ve put some information together to help make the process as straightforward as possible.

1. Choosing who to live with

It’s important to think carefully about who you want to live with when you’re at university. People can be very different when you live with them, especially if you didn’t spend much together before you moved in. These are some things to consider when deciding who to live with:

  • How many people are you happy to live with? Think about whether you want to live in a big group with 5 or 6 people, or whether you’d be happier with a couple of other people.
  • How well do you get on with them and have you spent a lot of time together? Do they have similar approaches to solving issues or problems?
  • Do you like late nights, going out to clubs and bars or hosting parties? Would you be happy living with someone who doesn’t?
  • Are you very clean and tidy or are you not bothered? Do your potential housemates have the same standard of cleanliness? Have you agreed on a way to manage household tasks and cleaning fairly?
  • Are they reliable when it comes to paying rent and bills on time? Have they encountered any issues before in rented accommodation with rent, upkeep, neighbours?
  • Are they a smoker and do they ever smoke inside? Are you happy to tolerate smoking/non-smoking in the property?
  • Do they have a partner who will come over a lot and would you be happy with an extra person staying in the property? If you plan on having your partner over a lot, would they be happy with this?
  • Do they travel or visit home a lot at the weekends leaving you on your own? Would you be happy with that? Are you planning to be away a lot on weekends?

Top Tips:

  • Don’t agree to live with friends of friends if you’ve never met them! You need to know and be comfortable with the people you’re living with. If you feel unsure about living with someone, it’s completely reasonable to ask to spend some time together before you commit to living together.
  • You need to be prepared to live with someone all year – that means to the end of your tenancy. Once you’re living with someone, it can be difficult, time consuming and expensive to try and move out, so make sure you’re certain before you commit.

2. Looking for a house or flat
Housing Services at Queen Mary University of London

Housing Services provides advice and guidance on all aspects of renting in the private sector as well as an online property search, tenancy agreement/contract reading and arbitration service. They have put together a comprehensive guide on finding a flat and can offer one-to-one guidance sessions if you are looking for somewhere to live. It is free to access and open to all Queen Mary students.

Housing Services Private Accommodation Guide

This guide covers how and when to start looking, inspecting a property, tenancy agreements, deposits and tenancy deposits schemes and repair issues. They recommend you view the whole guide if you have never rented private accommodation before.

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Accommodation search

You can search for local housing through the University website using this tool. Housing Services also provide a list of local letting agents who have signed up to the Queen Mary Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents, which you can view here.

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One-to-one advice and contract checking

If you have read through the Housing Services Private Accommodation guide and would like to arrange an appointment to talk to someone, you can book at this link.

The Housing Hub, Feilden House, Mile End campus

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3. Housing Checklist

Remember: Before you sign anything, you can have your contract checked for free by Queen Mary Housing Services, located in The Housing Hub in Feilden House on the Mile End campus.

It’s important before signing a contract that you do your research about the property and area you are planning to live in. Here are some things to consider:

Location

☐ How long will it take you to travel into university or work?
☐ Is it close enough to shops and amenities that you’ll need to use?
☐ How close are the nearest tube stations and bus stops?
☐ How long will it take you to visit friends or take part in activities?
☐ Does it feel safe to walk around?

Money and budgeting

☐ Are bills included in the rent or will you have to pay them separately? How much will you pay for bills and can you afford this?
☐ Does the property seem like it’s worth the rent? If you’re not sure, look at comparable properties to see if the one you are looking at is priced similarly.
☐ Is it a joint or individual contract and will you be liable for your housemates’ rent?

The property

Look out for:
☐ Sights or smells of mould or damp
☐ Damage to the building/disrepair
☐ Room sizes everyone is happy with
☐ Shower and hot water that work well
☐ Whether furniture is included
☐ Key amenities, like fridge/freezer, washing machine, cooker, microwave
☐ Double glazing throughout
☐ Parking or cycle storage if you need it

Check for the following security features:
☐ A working smoke alarm on each floor of the property
☐ A working burglar alarm
☐ Lockable windows
☐ Sturdy external doors

Ask the landlord or letting agent:
☐ For a current Gas Safe Register Certificate (annual checks are required by law, so if you are refused this, seek advice!)
☐ Whether they are part of an accreditation scheme
☐ For a copy of the HMO license (if the property houses five or more people)
☐ How will they protect your deposit
☐ If the tenancy is a joint or individual contract

Ask the current tenants:
☐ If the landlord completes repairs quickly enough
☐ Whether the heating works properly
☐ If they have enjoyed living there
☐ Why they are leaving
☐ Whether there are any outstanding problems with the house

1. Decide how you resolve issues

It’s great when you’ve just moved in with a group of your closest friends, but sometimes it might not be plain sailing. It is always best to decide as a group when you move in how you will resolve issues with one another (if there are any!). This means problems don’t build up and can be sorted out quickly and you have a harmonious environment to live in. No one wants to be living in an awkward situation. Some people who house share think it’s a good idea to have meetings every month or so, to check in and make sure everyone is okay. Plus, if something is irritating you in some way, there is an opportunity for you to raise it in a calm and friendly way.


2. Organise a cleaning rota

Cleaning can sometimes be one of the biggest problems when living with other students. If you are living with people who don’t want to clean as much as you do or you’re not interested in cleaning and they are, problems can arise. It’s best to get organised as soon as you move in by creating a cleaning rota, so you know who’s responsible for doing what and when. This will help to share work fairly between everyone and make sure that no one is doing too much cleaning or not enough!


3. Take the rubbish out!

Just like cleaning, it’s never nice if the bin hasn’t been taken out! No one wants a smelly flat or flies because the bin hasn’t been taken out or it’s overflowing into your kitchen. Get organised with the bin and set up a rota to take it out. Top tip – it’s time to take the bin out if it smells, even if it isn’t full yet!


4. Shared expenses

Living together and sharing a kitchen and bathroom means there will be shared expenses for things that you will all use. Washing up liquid, toilet roll, cleaning products and other household items all add up and it isn’t fair for one or two people to pay for everything. Setting up a shared pot of money to pay for these things, where everyone contributes the same amount each week or you each contribute evenly will help to make this process fairer. Whoever does the shopping can just take the money from the shared pot.


5. Don’t eat other people’s food!

The most annoying thing about living with other people can be when they eat your food without asking, then you’re standing at the fridge thinking ‘hmm I’m sure I had some more milk in here!’ If your housemates’ food looks tasty, that’s great but make sure you ask before taking a bite!


6. Ask your housemates before throwing a party

Lots of students love a good party but that isn’t the case for everyone. If you want to throw a party, ask your housemates first to make sure they’re comfortable. Make sure you’re respectful to your other housemates and the house doesn’t get trashed and be prepared to clean up afterwards.


7. Guests

If you’re going to have friends or a partner stay, it’s always best to ask your housemates first if they are happy with it. There’s nothing more annoying that someone outstaying their welcome or feeling like someone is living in your house for free when you’re paying rent. If you know before you move in that you’re likely to have lots of guests, make sure your housemates know and are all happy with this arrangement.


8. Noise

There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in your own home because of someone else’s noise. It’s good to be aware of how noisy you’re being and at different times of the day. You might be coming in late from a night out, but you might have a housemate who has to get up early for a lecture or work the next day, so try to be considerate of who you might be disturbing. Keeping noise to a minimum is also less likely to irritate your neighbours!

Guarantors

If you are a student, some landlords will require you to provide a UK-based guarantor. A guarantor is a person who agrees to pay your rent if you are unable to for some reason. Most people choose a family member to act as their guarantor. If you are not able to supply a UK guarantor, you may be asked to pay between 3 to 6 months’ rent in advance. For more information on guarantors and how this process works, please visit the Citizens Advice website.

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Deposits

A deposit will need to be paid before you are able to move into a property. Deposits are intended to provide insurance against unreasonable acts of waste or damage by tenants. There is a difference between damage and reasonable wear and tear (i.e. a decline in condition through use, especially for furniture and fittings). Due to the Tenant Fees Act 2019, landlords are only be able to charge a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent as a deposit.

Government legislation states that all landlords must protect your deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme. This is a consumer protection measure designed to prevent landlords wrongly withholding all or part of your deposit. Details of how your deposit is being protected (i.e. which scheme has been chosen) must be supplied to you within 30 days of the deposit being paid.

You should get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy, however the landlord may withhold all or part of this if they decide there has been damage to the property or you have failed to pay rent or bills. Landlords should state to you how much they are withholding from you and for what this is for, and you will be able to challenge this through your tenancy deposit scheme.

For more information about deposits please see the Queen Mary Housing Services Private Accommodation Guide.

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Letting fees

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 effectively bans private landlords and letting agents from charging fees to tenants. Aside from rent and deposits, agents and landlords are only permitted to charge tenants fees if they request a change or early termination of a tenancy, if there are bills or council tax to pay or if a cost is incurred such as replacing a key. You may also sometimes be asked to pay a ‘holding’ deposit to reserve a property, capped at one week’s rent (this will often be counted toward the first month’s rent).

If a landlord or letting agent tries to charge you any other fees, this is illegal and you should seek advice from Queen Mary Housing Services.

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Council Tax

As a full-time registered student you are exempt from paying council tax as long as you provide a copy of your tenancy agreement and student attendance certificate (obtained from the Student Enquiry Centre) and send it to the relevant local authority. Some local authorities accept exemption lists directly from Queen Mary, so make sure your term time address is kept up to date. If you are not a full-time student, you are not exempt from paying council tax, however you may be eligible for a discount. For more information about who is exempt, please visit here.

If you are living in a property with other people who aren’t students, then they will need to pay council tax. If you are a full-time student, you are exempt from paying council tax and you are not jointly liable with any non-students in the property.

For more information on council tax, you can visit the UK government website here.

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Bills

If you are privately renting you will normally need to pay for bills in addition to your rent unless your landlord states otherwise. This can include electricity, water, internet and phone bills. Bills aren’t calculated per person, so it is important to decide with your housemates how you are going to pay these. This might involve one person paying the bills and everyone else sending money in advance, or you could set up a separate account for everyone to pay the money into.

It’s important to make sure you have budgeted for all bills, rent and living expenses before you sign a contract.


TV License

If you are going to watch live TV (on a TV, laptop or another electronic device) then by law you will need a TV license. This also applies if you are going to download programmes or watch BBC programmes on demand. You only need one TV license per household unless you have an individual tenancy agreement for where you are living, then you will need your own TV license.

If you are caught without a TV license and you need one, then you can be fined up to £1000 plus any legal costs.

For more information on TV licensing and to pay for a new license, click on the link below.

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If you experience a housing crisis and are homeless, for example, if you have been evicted from your accommodation without notice or you are fleeing violence, you should contact Queen Mary Housing Services or the Advice and Counselling Service directly for advice.

You can also contact your local authority’s homelessness department for assistance. The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 places new legal duties on English councils to provide meaningful help to everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness. You can use the link above to find your local authority.

You can also consider arranging temporary accommodation with a shortstay provider or a hostel or a hotel.

If you need money, the University and Students’ Union both offer interest-free, emergency short-term loans as well as longer-term financial support. You can find more information about the support available here. The Advice and Counselling Service can help you access loans and other financial support.


Services that can help:
Housing Services

Housing Services provides advice and guidance on all aspects of renting in the private sector as well as an online property search, tenancy agreement/contract reading and arbitration service. They have put together a comprehensive guide on finding a flat and can offer one-to-one guidance sessions if you are looking for somewhere to live.

The Housing Hub, Feilden House, Mile End campus

Click here
Advice and Counselling Service

Confidential, professional counselling support and advice for emotional, psychological, financial and student welfare issues.

Click here
Shelter

Expert advice and support about all aspects of housing and homelessness. They offer one-to-one, personalised help with housing issues through a helpline and online chat service and provide a wide range of guidance on their website.

0808 800 4444 (8am-8pm weekdays, 9am-5pm weekends)

Click here

Here we have provided links to some services and resources that you might find useful. You should contact Housing Services in the first instance for any housing query.

Housing Services at Queen Mary University of London

Housing Services provides advice and guidance on all aspects of renting in the private sector as well as an online property search, tenancy agreement/contract reading and arbitration service. They have put together a comprehensive guide on finding a flat and can offer one-to-one guidance sessions if you are looking for somewhere to live.

The Housing Hub, Feilden House, Mile End campus

Click here
Advice and Counselling Service at Queen Mary University of London

Confidential, professional counselling support and advice for emotional, psychological, financial and student welfare issues. You can find a list explaining where to go for advice about different types of housing issues here.

Click here
Shelter

Expert advice and support about all aspects of housing and homelessness. They offer one-to-one, personalised help with housing issues through a helpline and online chat service and provide a wide range of guidance on their website.

0808 800 4444 (8am-8pm weekdays, 9am-5pm weekends)

You can find more information and links on the University’s Housing Services website.

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