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Student housing advice

Finding the perfect student accommodation doesn’t have to be a chore. But it’s important to remember that there is more to consider than just the size of your bedroom and how close you’ll be to the nearest pub! This guide will help you avoid all the common mistakes thousands of students make each year when moving into their new student house.

Law In Wales

Before we start with this guide, you need to know that the housing legislation in Wales changed on 1 December 2022 with the coming into force of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 along with various secondary legislation and regulations. This is a completely new legal system and differs in many ways from housing law in England. One of the main features of the legislation is that tenancies and residential licenses are largely treated the same. This has resulted in new terminology. So we now refer to:

  • Occupation contracts, rather than tenancies or licenses
  • Contract holders rather than tenants and licensees
  • Written statements of the occupation contract rather than tenancy agreements or license agreements
  • The ‘occupation date’ which is the date the occupation contract starts
  • The property being let is also referred to in the legislation as the ‘dwelling’

You will find some general information about the rules in Wales here

  1. Home Safety Issues
  2. Household Costs
  3. Contracts
  4. Your Rights
  5. Safety Advice
  6. Tenancy Deposit Law
  7. Tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ Privately Rented Accommodation
  8. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  9. Inventory
  10. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
  11. Disclaimer

1) Home Safety Issues

Gas Safety

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. It has replaced CORGI registration. Only a Gas Safe registered engineer should fit, fix or service gas appliances. Landlords have responsibilities for gas safety. By law, your landlord must keep all gas appliances supplied for you to use in good condition. They must arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out a gas safety check on them every 12 months and provide you with a copy of the landlord’s gas safety record.


  • Ask for a copy of the landlord’s current gas safety record before you move in. By law, landlords have to give a hard copy to the tenant on or before the move in date.
  • Cooperate with your landlord and let a registered engineer in when a gas safety check or servicing has to be done. Remember that this is for your safety!
  • Check the ID card of any gas engineer that comes to do work in your home. The engineer must be Gas Safe registered.

If you think a gas appliance is faulty turn it off and let your landlord know immediately. In an emergency call the gas emergency helpline on 0800 111 999. If you feel unwell, seek medical help immediately. Click on the Gas Safe logo link for more info! The Health & Safety Executive has a Gas Safety Advice line on 0800 408 5500 In the event of an emergency call 0800 111 999

gas_safe Click on the Gas Safe logo link for more info!
The Health & Safety Executive has a Gas Safety Advice line on
0800 408 5500
In the event of an emergency call
0800 111 999


Rented properties in Wales must (under s6 of the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation)(Wales) Regulations 2022, be inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every five years. New occupiers must be given a copy of the electrical condition report within 7 days of moving in. If the report required any remedial work, confirmation must also be provided to confirm that it has been done. Where subsequent inspections are carried out after contract holders have moved in, a copy of the inspection report must be provided to contract holders within seven days from the completion of the inspection.

Fire Safety - Furniture and Furnishings

The furniture regulations have been around since 1997. They provide for “all furniture manufactured after 1 January 1950 to be fire retardant and carry the proper labels". This means that furniture and furnishings supplied in let accommodation must comply with the fire and safety requirements in the Regulations. All residential premises including flats, bedsits and houses where furniture is supplied as part of the let are covered by these regulations. The type of furniture covered by the regulations are: any upholstered furniture including chairs, sofas, children's furniture, beds, head boards (if upholstered), mattresses, scatter cushions, seat pads, pillows and even garden furniture if it is upholstered and can be used in the dwelling. Carpets, curtains and duvets are not covered by the regulations.

Carbon Monoxide

If you have gas appliances in your house, Carbon Monoxide is a possible danger.

It's invisible and odourless, but it can kill.

Watch out for...

  • Gas flames that burn orange or yellow rather than blue.
  • Sooty stains on or around your appliances.
  • Solid fuels that burn slowly or go out.

Know the symptoms...

  • Unexplained drowsiness.
  • Giddiness when standing up.
  • Headaches.
  • Sickness and Diarrhoea.
  • Chest pains.
  • Unexplained stomach pains.

Do not confuse these symptoms with hangovers!

Your property must have the following alarms installed

Smoke alarms:

  • Throughout the occupation period
  • On each storey of the dwelling
  • In repair and proper working order
  • Connected to the electricity supply and
  • Linked to all other smoke alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms:

These must be provided in each room which contains

  • a gas appliance
  • an oil-fired combustion appliance or
  • a solid fuel-burning combustion appliance

However, the rules do not apply to

  • a portable or mobile appliance supplied with gas from a cylinder or similar, or
  • appliances which belong to contract holders

If your landlord is not compliant with these rules, your property may be deemed to be ‘unfit’.

Top Top 2) Household Costs


  • Clarify what is included in your rent. For instance, some agents/landlords include water rates, others don't.
  • If possible, ask the previous tenants contract holders the rough cost of gas, electricity and water.
  • Take readings of the relevant meters as soon as you can, once the last contract holders have left.
  • Change the bills to your name with the relevant suppliers from the time you move in...decide whether joint names will be put on the bills or if the responsibility will be divided.


  • Don't think of doing without it; the number of burglaries and thefts in student houses is rising! Your landlord’s insurance will not cover your personal possessions.
  • Shop around to find the right insurance package for your requirements.
  • Make sure that you're covered over the holidays.

Council Tax

  • Properties where all the occupants are full-time students will be exempt. You may be asked to produce a certificate giving evidence of your student status; this certificate will be obtainable from your faculty office after you have registered on your course.
  • If one or more of the occupants of your house is not a student the house becomes taxable so you must clarify whether you are expected to pay anything towards the cost.
  • If you are unsure about your status with regard to Council Tax then seek advice from your Student Accommodation Department.

TV Licence

Click here for more information.

Top 3) Contracts

The law has changed considerably with the introduction of the new legislation in December 2022 and in most cases, you will have an ‘occupation contract’.  This brings a number of rights for contract holders:

  • You must be given a written statement of your occupation contract within 14 days of the occupation date. 
  • The occupation contract must include various fundamental and supplementary terms as provided by regulations save where it is permitted to change these by law.  So pre December 2022, tenancy agreements will not satisfy the rules.  As the terms which must be included are very extensive this means that occupation contracts are now very long.
  • Landlords also need to provide details of their name and address within 14 days of the occupation date using a special prescribed form.
  • The obligation to provide an occupation contract and the obligation to provide the form giving the landlord's address both carry a penalty for non-compliance.  The landlord will be liable to pay their contract holder compensation at the daily rate of rent, from the start of the 14 day period until the date the obligations are complied with, up to a maximum of two months.
  • Some contracts will be ‘joint and several’ where you and your housemates all sign the contract together.  This means that if there are arrears or money due for damage, your landlord can sue all of you together or just one of you - even if that one person was not actually responsible for the rent arrears or damage.  So if you sign a contract jointly, you need to be sure that you really trust your housemates and that they are honest and reliable people.
  • Alternatively, some landlords will give individual contracts from bedrooms in a shared property with shared use of the common parts.  Here you will only be responsible for your own rent.  However, your landlord is the one who decides who lives in the other rooms, not you.
  • Note that under the new Welsh law it is easier to change the legal occupiers than it is under the English rules.  However, where there is a fixed term the original contract holders will remain liable, even if they move out, until the fixed term ends.  If you are in a shared house and one of you wants to move out, speak to your Student Accommodation Office.

Lodger arrangements

Sometimes you will not be renting a house or flat but will take lodgings with a local family or individual.  Here the law is somewhat different:

  • Provided you share living accommodation with your landlord, and
  • The accommodation is your landlord’s only or principal home (i.e. you are a lodger)

You will not have an ‘occupation contract’.

This means that if you breach the terms of your lodger contract, your landlord may have the right to evict you without getting a court order

Many of the other rules relating to occupation contracts will not apply to you - for example, your landlord is not required to provide you with a written contract and the fundamental and supplementary terms which must go into occupation contracts will not apply.  Neither is your landlord required to provide notice of his address on the Welsh prescribed form. 

Note by the way that ‘living accommodation’ does not include areas used for storage, staircases, passages, corridors and other means of access.  So you will need to share ‘proper’ accommodation such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room with your landlord for the exception to apply.

Points to Note

  • Rents must be agreed before the contract is signed since this is a binding agreement. Remember you can negotiate with the agent/landlord over rents and contract clauses, if you are not happy with the agent's/landlord's suggestions. Although there is limited scope to amend the terms of your contract as most of them are now prescribed.
  • Under the new rules, break clauses (i.e. clauses allowing parties to end the contract early) cannot take effect within the first 18 months of the contract - so for student lets, which are generally for 9-12 months, they are no longer relevant. However, your landlord may sometimes be willing to allow you to end your contract early if you can find new contract holders to take your place and provided you pay any referencing and other costs he may incur.
  • Always try to get your contract checked; the Students Union Advice Centre/Accommodation Office or Citizen's Advice will be able to check your contract.
  • A Landlord must comply with the legislation and cannot simply evict a contract holder without a Court Order and this will only be granted on certain grounds. See your rights.
Top 4) Your Rights

Your Agent/Landlord is responsible for...

  • Keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house, including drains, gutters and external pipes.
  • Keeping in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences and for heating rooms and heating water.
  • Ensuring that the property is ‘fit for human habitation’ when you move in and throughout your time there
  • Ensuring that there are sufficient smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Providing a rent book if statute so requires e.g., where the rent is paid weekly.
  • Providing you with the landlords full name and address on the proper form.  If your property is being managed by an agency you should also have contact details for the agents.
  • Providing you with a copy of the valid current Gas Safety Certificate and electrical inspection report (see Standards).
  • Allowing you to "peacefully enjoy" your accommodation (unless there is an emergency).
  • Agents/Landlords have the right to enter the property at reasonable times to carry out the repairs for which they are responsible and to inspect the condition and the state of repair of the property. They must give at least 24 hours notice in writing of an inspection. It would be helpful to set out the arrangements for access and procedures for getting repairs done in the contract.
  • Providing you with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

You are responsible for...

  • Acting in a "Tenant-like manner". This means you should perform the smaller tasks around the house such as changing a light bulb; unblocking the sink when clogged with waste and cleaning the windows when necessary.
  • Not damaging the property, if you do then you and your guests are responsible for the repairs.
  • Note that you may be held responsible for damage done by your guests.
  • Checking smoke alarms on an ongoing basis and replacing batteries.
  • Refuse collection! Remember to find out the collection day from your local council. Put the wheelie bin out and bring it back in again, it's illegal to leave it on the street.
  • Securing the property when you go away; lock all the doors and windows!
  • Being reasonable about noise and parties; weekends are better, let your neighbours know in advance and comply with the Law.
  • Reporting all repairs needed to the agent/landlord (preferably in writing). The landlord's/agent's responsibility to repair begins only when they are aware of the problem. If the fault is not corrected within a reasonable period of time (dependent upon the nature of the disrepair) then seek advice from the Students Union Advice Centre/ Accommodation Office or Citizen's Advice.
  • It may also be a good idea to keep a diary where you record anything relevant as it may otherwise be difficult to prove (or even remember) when and whether events took place.

Harassment and Unlawful Eviction

If your agent/landlord wants you to leave your property then a legal process must be complied with before you can be evicted. This will include a written in the prescribed form and applying to the Court for a possession order. If you are evicted without the agent/landlord following the correct procedure then the agent/landlord is committing a criminal offence. In addition, if the agent/landlord (or someone acting on their behalf) interferes with your peace or comfort either with unannounced visits, by not fulfilling his/her responsibilities for basic repairs (as listed above), disconnecting utility supplies and so on, then this may amount to harassment which is a criminal offence. If you are in danger of eviction or suffering from harassment by your agent/landlord then contact the Student Union Advice Centre, Accommodation Department, your local Council's Housing Advice Team, or your Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team. Citizen's Advice also produce a booklet entitled "Protection Against Harassment and Unlawful Eviction".

Top 5) Safety Advice

We would always recommend viewing a property in person, rather than relying on the information on the web. You will need to check that the landlord and the property are bona fide. We would never recommend transferring any monies to anyone before doing so in person. If you need to make a payment to secure the property, make sure you pay by credit card as then you will be protected under the consumer legislation and should be able to claim your money back if you find you have been scammed. For your own personal safety, it is always advisable for you to view a property accompanied and try to arrange the appointment at a reasonable hour. However, there are advantages to viewing it after dark so that you can get an idea of how you will feel when walking home at night. It is important that you contact your University advice centre if you feel that you were in any way subjected to sexism or harassment during the appointment.


Here are a few pointers in checking the security of the property:

  • Is the property in a 'good' area?
  • Is the property set back from the road? Is the street lighting sufficient?
  • Are the front and rear doors solid?
  • Have the doors got five lever mortice locks?
  • Is there a chain on the door? If not, can the agent/landlord fit one?
  • Are the curtains of your room see-through? Insist on thicker ones if they are.
Top 6) Tenancy Deposit Law


This is practically identical to the law in England.

You will normally be required to pay a deposit to the agent/landlord as security in case you damage the property or furnishings. It can also be used to cover unpaid bills, rent or missing items. Most agents/landlords will ask for a sum equivalent to four weeks' or a calendar month's rent but the maximum an agent/landlord can charge by law is a sixth of the annual rent payable in England and two months rent in Scotland. In order to ensure that you get your deposit back:

  • Ensure that you have a written statement from the landlord explaining what is covered by the deposit (this will normally be covered by a clause in the tenancy agreement).
  • Your landlord or agent must also provide you with ‘prescribed information’ which will include the name and address of the deposit scheme which has been used to protect your deposit
  • Ensure that you have a receipt for monies paid.
  • Ensure that you have a full inventory of furniture.
  • Get the agent/landlord to sign it.
  • You may wish to take photographs.
  • Take reasonable care of the house and furniture during the tenancy.
  • Towards the end of your tenancy write to the agent/landlord inviting him/her to inspect the property.
  • Settle all the bills.
  • When you leave return all the keys to the agent/landlord and make a written request for the return of your deposit. Keep a copy of the letter.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

As in England, in Wales, all deposits which are taken for occupation contracts (but not for lodger situations) must be protected in one of the government-authorised tenancy deposit schemes.

There are two types of scheme:

  1. Custodial Scheme - here the contract holder pays the deposit to the landlord who in turn places it into a designated scheme account. When the scheme administrator returns the deposit to either the contract holder or the landlord it is done so with interest at a rate specified by the Government. If they are not in agreement, there is a free adjudication scheme which can be used. The adjudicator will decide (or if the parties do not want to use the free scheme and use the Courts instead a final court order will have to be obtained) specifying the proportion of the deposit to which each is entitled.
  2. Insurance based schemes - here the contract holder pays the deposit to the landlord or agent who hold the money in their own bank account and who only transfers it into a designated scheme if there is a dispute at the end of the agreement. When the landlord and contract holders reach agreement or an adjudicator (or if the free scheme is not used, a court) decides how much each party is entitled the administrator will distribute the deposit accordingly.

If an agent/landlord fails to pay the deposit to the scheme then a scheme will have adequate insurance cover to compensate the contract holder in the event they are owed monies. Within 30 days of receiving your deposit your agent/landlord must give you the relevant information regarding the scheme safeguarding your deposit. You should always check that the scheme has received your deposit.

There are three authorised schemes:

All three have very informative websites with information for tenants/contract holders, plus they all have free telephone advice lines which you can ring for advice if you have a problem.


These in the past have sometimes been paid to the agent/landlord by prospective contract holders. The retainer period forms part of the contract (typically July to August) when the student is unlikely to want to occupy and the agent/landlord may wish to carry out certain maintenance works to the property. The normal retainer payment is 50% of the per calendar month rent. It is believed that this arrangement may be still allowable under the new Welsh legislation but speak to your Student Accommodation Office if you are concerned.

What if my agent/landlord does not protect my deposit?

If your agent/landlord doesn’t protect your deposit, or refuses to tell you which scheme they are using, you can take them to court. The court may either order your agent/landlord to pay you back the deposit or to pay it into one of the schemes available. It will also order your agent/landlord to pay you a penalty payment of between 1 to 3 times the amount of the deposit. The precise amount awarded will depend on whether your landlord had made an honest mistake or was deliberately flouting the rules. Note that you can always find out if your deposit has been protected by checking with all three schemes, who should have a page on their website where you can carry out a search.

Top 7) Tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ Privately Rented Accommodation

You may have read about the ‘right to rent’ legislation and the checks that need to be done to ensure that all applicants for the rented property have the right to rent in the UK. These rules do not apply in Wales. However, your landlord will still have the right to check your identity to make sure you are who you say you are.

Top 8) Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

What is an EPC?

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives home owners, tenants/contract holders and buyers information on the energy efficiency of their property. It gives the building a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’, where ‘A’ is the most efficient and with the average to date being D. In addition to the rating for your buildings current energy performance, part of the EPC report will list the potential rating that the building could achieve (using the same ‘A’ to ‘G’ scale), if the recommendations that are provided within the report were to be made. It is not mandatory for anyone to act on the report’s recommendations. However, doing so may cut your energy bills and reduce your carbon emissions.

Who needs an EPC?

As a contract holder moving into a property, or as a buyer looking to purchase, it is the legal requirement of the existing owner to provide you with a full Energy Performance Certificate, free of charge. This law came into effect after 1st October 2008. Agents/Landlords and owners are only required to produce an EPC for a property that is self-contained and the certificate is then valid for 10 years. However, an EPC isn’t required when a contract holder rents a room and shares facilities. A group of friends rent a property and there is a single contract between the agent/landlord and the group as the contract is for the rental of a whole dwelling. An EPC is required for the whole dwelling. Note by the way that a new EPC certificate is not required to be served on contract holders if it runs out part way thought a tenancy. The only trigger for serving an EPC is re-letting the property when it has to be provided to all applicants before they sign their contract.

For further information, please visit the Government EPC website here.

Top 9) Inventory

What is an inventory?

It is not uncommon for contract holders not to receive a copy of inventory from their landlords when first moving into their new house.

An inventory can be extremely useful evidence of the condition of the property when you first move in. It provides a full inspection of the property’s contents and their condition.

If you aren’t supplied with an inventory by your landlord or letting agent, don't hesitate to ask for one. If you still don’t receive one, provide them with your own. You do this by making a list of the contents room by room and then take photos or use video evidence to record the property contents and condition as back up. The Agent/Landlord and contract holders should both sign the inventory and initial every page to indicate that you agree to the condition of the property contents and condition.

If at all possible, the final inventory check should be done on move out day and checked against the original inventory. This should ensure that there aren't any disputes about the extent of any damage, should there be some (and will ensure that you are not blamed for damage done after you move out), as the landlord may need to take monies out of the deposit to pay for these. Note that landlords will often use specialist inventory companies to do this work.

When compiling an inventory, it is essential that you:

  • Describe the condition of every item within the property.
  • Back it up with photographic/video evidence.
  • Make sure that any photographs you take are clear and include something to show the scale an out of focus photo of a scratch could be anywhere.
  • Get all parties to sign and date them on the back to prove when they were taken.
  • Take a note of the gas and electric meter readings.
  • Get the agent/landlord to agree to and sign the inventory.
  • Keep a safe copy of the signed inventory to check against when moving out.
Top 10) Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

The Housing Act 2004, which was introduced in April 2006 in England and Wales, was created with the intention of providing a fairer and better housing market for renting properties.

The act, and subsequent regulations, provides special rules for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which are essentially properties where people who are not family members share accommodation or live in the same building, as these types of property are considered to be higher risk.

The type of properties likely to require HMOs include:

  • Shared houses
  • Blocks of flats
  • Bedsits
  • Lodgings
  • Blocks of converted flats
  • Accommodation for workers

Practically all student accommodation where more than two people are sharing will be an HMO

All HMO properties are subject to the management regulations, which are essentially health and safety rules which HMO managers must comply with as well as the normal safety provisions which apply to all contracts. Some HMOs (but not all) will also require a license from the local authority. This generally imposes further conditions on the landlord - for example the Local Authority may require additional safety or other works to be done and may also impose a limit on the number of occupiers. Generally, an HMO will be subject to mandatory licensing if there are five or more occupiers forming two or more ‘households’ (this essentially means families) and where the property has three or more storeys. However, in some areas Local Authorities will require smaller HMOs to obtain a license (this is known as ‘additional licensing’) and some areas will have ‘selective licensing’ which means that all properties in a specified area will need a license whether they are HMOs or not.

If you think your property is an HMO you can check whether it is properly licensed or not by contacting your Local Authority.

To find out more contact your local authority or your Student Accommodation Office who will be able to advise you


This Guide is intended to provide friendly and helpful advice. Studentpad has tried to ensure that the advice give in this Guide is useful and as reliable as possible. Whilst every effort has been made to offer up to date and accurate information, errors can occur. This Guide may contain references to certain laws and regulations. Laws and regulations will change over time and should be interpreted only in light of particular circumstances. This Guide is not designed to provide professional or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstances and where appropriate seek professional advice. To the extent permitted by law, Studentpad accepts no responsibility for your use of the advice given in this Guide. For further information please see our Terms of Use.

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