Finding Somewhere to Live

Finding accommodation in London and around can be really challenging. Let us help you with our handy guide!

Picture of a room with nice furniture and several calming plants

Things to Consider when Looking for a Place to Live in London 

We realise that looking for somewhere to live during your time at UAL can be daunting and it might be hard to know where to begin. If you are thinking of staying in halls, or wish to move into privately rented accommodation there are a few things you need to consider to ensure you choose the accommodation that is right for you.

Start with a list of your priorities:

  • What is your budget?
  • Who do you wish to live with and how many people? - on your own, with friends? You should also reflect on what has been good for you so far. 
  • What type of housing would you prefer? UAL halls, private renting, or a flat/house share?
  • Contract length- Are all housemates able to rent the property for the same length of time?

UAL Accommodation

UAL offers returning students the chance to apply for UAL Halls of Residence. You can take a look at the UAL website for more details about the UAL Halls of Residence available or to speak to the UAL Accommodation Services here. Applications for returning students to apply for UAL Halls of Residence opens on the 12th April 2023 and will be on a first come first served basis, so it’s best to get your applications in early.

Private Housing and Flat Shares

In London, the private rental market is a fast-paced environment and it’s usual for properties to be advertised around 1 or 2 months before they are available to be moved into. In London, there are no specific ‘student’ areas to move into when looking to privately rent so it’s a good idea to think about the area you would like to live in, prioritising the things that are important to you, like, how long is the commute to your College? What public transport is available or is it close to the places you like to socialise?

Private housing is usually rented via a landlord or a letting agency. It is important you do your research online when looking at who the landlord is or what letting agency to use. You can look to see if there are any reviews or information about your letting agency or landlord online or try websites like ‘Ask Tenants,’ to see if there are any reviews or ratings. You can also ask your landlord if they are accredited or check to see if they have been prosecuted for any previous housing offenses via London’s Rogue Landlord Checker, which you can find on the London Government website.

Where can I look to find Private Properties to rent?

There are a number of websites you can check to find properties available to rent in London. You can look for properties directly through a letting agency as they will post properties to their website.

Landlords and letting agencies also post available properties on websites such as:

  • Rightmove
  • Zoopla
  • Spareroom

It is important to be vigilant and careful when using these sites. If you are ever unsure or want advice on housing contracts, then you can speak to the Arts SU Advice services for support.

The University of London Housing Services also has a ‘Househunt’ page where available properties are listed.

You can also join the UAL/Arts SU Housing Group Official Facebook Group, which is a space for students to post rooms available.

Some landlords and agencies might advertise properties on Facebook and other social media sites. Do make sure you check the ads are legitimate and ask for an in person viewing of the property. If someone asks you for a holding deposit or an upfront fee, then do not be pressured into transferring money before you have viewed a property or have received advice. It is always worth checking the landlord out online before agreeing to any tenancy agreement.

Inspecting a Property

You should view the property before you sign a contract, to ensure you would be happy to live there. Photos of the property online can sometimes be misleading, and the size of the rooms and the condition of the property may not be what they seem.

If for any reason you are not able to view the property, then you can also ask the landlord or agent to do a virtual viewing via a live recording. The reason this should be live is because you should not rely on photos or old recordings, as these could be outdated and will not show the property in its current state. Saying this, we always advice seeing the property in person.

Viewing a property is the perfect time to ask lots of questions! Here is a list of some useful questions you can ask:

  • Are bills included in the rent- if not, how much would this be?
  •  Is any of the furniture in the property included?
  • If you are sharing basic amnesties (such as bathroom or kitchen) with other tenants, how many people will be sharing these facilities?

If the previous tenants are in the property, you can also ask them questions:

  • Have they had any issues with the property (such as damp, pests) or any issues with having repairs done when contacting the landlord/agent?
  • Is the area nice?
  • Have there been any problems with the neighbours?

Get it in Writing

You should get anything that has been agreed with your landlord or agent in writing, which includes anything you have decided on or needs to be provided before the tenancy begins. When asking questions or voicing any concerns, it’s best to communicate formal requests and questions via email so you have a clear record of your communication and responses.

Any promises made should also be within your tenancy agreement if relevant, so that if any of these promises are broken, you have evidence to show it was part of the agreement.


Checking Your Contract

Before signing your contract, you need to make sure you understand what you are signing. There are different types of tenancy agreements depending on the property you are moving into.

Below is a rundown of the types of tenancies available and the differences between them:

Assured Shorthold Tenancy and HMOs

An assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement is the most common tenancy if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent. ASTs can be fixed term 6 to 12 month contracts or they can be period, which means you would be on a rolling weekly or monthly contract. Some ASTs also have a break clause in them, which would allow you to end the contract early by giving notice.

Most students sharing accommodation in the private rented sector will be living in a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

A HMO is a property where multiple households, of three or more people live together, as opposed to a single household, such as a family. For example, a group of three or more students who are unrelated living together, would be considered multiple households.

A property qualifies as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if it's occupied by at least three tenants, forming more than one household, who share communal areas such as a kitchen or bathroom.

There are specific duties a landlord needs to undertake if you are living in a HMO. They must ensure there are proper fire safety measures in place, the property isn’t overcrowded, communal areas are in good repair and there are enough cooking and bathroom facilities for the number of people living in the property.  Some landlords may also need a license to rent a HMO property. If you do not think the correct safety measures are in place, your property is in disrepair, or you are unsure if your landlord needs a license then you should contact the Arts SU Advice services for support.


If you are moving in as a group of students, you landlord may offer you two main types of contracts:  

1. Individual agreement

An individual agreement would mean all those living in the property would have their own separate tenancy agreement with the landlord. If you have your own tenancy agreement, then if one person in the group decides to leave the property for any reason or pays their rent late, you would not be liable to cover this for them. 


2. Joint agreement

A joint tenancy agreement is where all those living in the property have one tenancy agreement. This means the whole group will be responsible for the property and collective rent payments. If someone decides they want to leave before the agreement ends, it could potentially mean all students would need to move out unless you can make an agreement with your landlord. This also means if someone does not pay their rent, the whole group are liable to ensure the rent is paid.


Here at the Arts SU, we offer housing advice and can look over your contract if you are unsure of anything written in your tenancy agreement. You can book an appointment to have a chat with us via the Arts Students’ Union website.

University of London Housing services also offers a great Private Housing Guide that will take you through all the stages of looking for accommodation including property viewings, fees, contracts, deposits, moving in and getting advice for any disrepair. You can take a look at the guide here

As a UAL student, you can use the University of London Housing Advice services. More information about the service they can provide can be found on their website.