Living in London
Private housing talks 2023
Everything on housing you may need to know.
Recently LSE held a Q&A session on all things to do with housing, where representatives from LSE Residential Services Office, the Student Union, and the University of London Housing Services all attended and gave some excellent advice. Here's a summary of everything they spoke about.
LSE Residential Services Office
LSE have an in-house team that is dedicated to helping solve all of your residential issues!
There are options for continuing students in LSE Halls. Urbanest - Westminster Bridge is sold out at the moment but there will be cancellations that continuing students will be offered. Checking back regularly in your LSE Student Accommodation System account will give you the best chance of getting the spot you desire.
After the 9th of June though, all remaining rooms will be released and open for continuing students in all halls (these include 39-week and 50-week contracts).
- Lived in halls for 1 year/lived in private accommodation for at least 1 year (LANDLORD REF REQUIRED).
- Paid all fees (tuition and accommodation).
- Maximum £1000 rent per person/pcm.
- Continuing student due to register full-time, or PhD student for 2023/24.
- £50 application fee to apply.
The team can also point you in the right direction to begin your Private housing search. There are also external options which you will have likely heard of, such as the University of London property platform. Registration is free and you can contact landlords directly (who have agreed to ULHS code of practice) directly.
LSE SU advice service
The Student Union as always, is here to help. They can offer free advice and support to students on a range of academic and housing issues. They also administer funds for students in financial hardship and are independent from LSE so you can rely on them being impartial, confidential and free from a conflict of interest. Just to confirm though, they are NOT an official legal service even though they are a team who are experienced in housing matters.
- Housing advice - Contract checks, deposit enquiries, council tax, landlord, agent, letting interactions, flatmate disputes, etc.
- Hardship fund (Max £2500) - emergency housing and homelessness costs, immigration costs, medical costs, right to choose, childcare, etc.
- Location: Saw Swee Hock Student Centre
- Tel: 020 7955 7158
- Email: email@example.com
The SU Advice Services aim to reply within max three working days but are usually quicker than that. The advice examples mentioned above are not exhaustive lists, so don't be afraid to get in contact for other enquiries as well.
University of London housing services
Last but not least, the University of London has housing services that you can take advantage of. Their main goal is to help you find accommodation through their property platform. They can also help you with other very crucial jobs such as finding flatmates, contract checking and general housing advice.
They also host both in-person and online events such as annual housing fares (like the one that took place on the 11th of May), flatmate finders and webinars for more tips and tricks. Their website details all the past and upcoming events if you're wanting more details.
The housing market in London has recently been very competitive - high rents, fewer properties available... but you’re not alone.
What can you do?
- Keep an open mind to areas you wouldn’t normally consider.
- Short-term accommodation such as hotels and Airbnbs.
- Don’t lose hope!
- Flats and houses
- Private halls
- Resident landlords (you live with your landlord, Spareroom style)
Flats/houses are usually the preferred option for most students as they are cost-effective, joint liability and good for your typical group of 3-5 students.
A reminder of affordability
Don’t forget the costs beyond rent. For example, the cost of utility bills has gone up substantially, so you will need to keep that in mind. Just make sure that everyone you're living with can afford the full cost of living in your desired house, not just yourself.
You can browse houses that you can book viewings for on sites such as Spareroom, Rightmove, Zoopla, OpenRent, Facebook, and Gumtree (beware of scams with the last two though as they are not regulated like the other options).
Always view properties in person if you can, don’t rely on pre-recorded stuff, take a list of questions with you, and get any promises in writing.
When you're viewing the property in person, these are the things you want to look out for:
- Smoke alarms
- Damp or mould patches
- Signs of infestation
- Exposed wires
- Cracked plugs or switches
Agents must belong to a redress scheme, and cannot charge fees or work for the landlord. Make sure to search online for reviews and check accreditation (the University of London can help you with that).
Since 1st June 2019, landlords and agents have been banned from charging most fees in new contracts, this applies to student accommodation and all existing contracts since June 1st 2020.
Agents can charge you still for key replacement, swapping tenants and if you want to end the contract sooner than agreed. You of course will be charged for paying rent late (capped at 3% above the Bank of England base rate and over 14 days is counted as late).
Deposits and additional requirements
Deposits protected by law (schemes TDS, my deposits, DPS). They must supply this information to you within 30 days.
- Holding deposits - Money paid to secure your interest in the property (max one week's rent), refundable only if the landlord changes their mind, not if you do. Make the offer clear in writing, if you take the property the holding deposit should come out of the rent or damage deposit owed.
- Damage deposits - Money the landlord holds as security against damage to the property. This is limited to 5 weeks' worth of rent, or 6 weeks if the total annual rent is £50,000+. This is paid around the time you sign the contract, and refunded in full at the end of the tenancy if you haven’t caused damage.
- Additional requirements - Right to rent, reference checks, guarantors, rent in advance, etc.
Setting up home
Read the meters, set up new accounts, council tax exemption, take photos, inventory, and report any problems straight away to not risk any issues later down the line.
If you want to leave early but don’t have a valid break clause then you will be liable for all of the remaining rent you owe.
If you want more information on what classes as average rent (liable to change) then check page 26 of the housing guide or page 31 for the cost of bills & utilities.
Tel: 0207 862 880
Citizens Advice: citizenadvice.org.uk
Q1: Are the University of London Housing Fairs in-person or virtual?
A: The Housing Fair is in-person. This is to facilitate connecting with potential flatmates and meeting new people, which may be especially helpful if you are new to London.
Q2: When searching for private housing with a partner, must we be in a formal partnership?
A: No. You should be aware that some contracts, particularly if you are moving in with people you do not know, are for single people or couples only. Otherwise, you can live with friends, partners, and other tenants.
Q3: Who can we contact for support throughout our Private Housing search?
A: Contact details for University of London (UoL) Housing Services can be found on their website here.
LSE Residential Services' contact details can be found here.
Other resources you may find useful can be found on the Shelter website here, but please note that the charity does not provide housing advice from the phone numbers or email addresses listed on their website.
For legal advice and disputes, you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau here.
Q4: Can you share a room in a privately-rented flat?
A: If it is a room intended for two people (for example, it has a double bed) then that should be fine. However, it is always advised to check with your landlord that they are happy with the number of tenants who will be staying in the property.
Q5: How reasonable is it for landlords to ask tenants for a professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy?
A: Generally, it would be to give the property back to the same standard as it was given to you at the start of the tenancy.
Q6: When is a good time to start looking for private housing?
A: May would be roughly a good time to start your private housing search.
That was A LOT of information so don't feel bad if you feel a little overwhelmed. You can always get in contact with any of the representatives featured in the housing talks.
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