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The Home

Unless you are continuing to live at home with your parents while you study, the cost of running a home, whether rented or owned, is likely to be the most significant part of your budget. 

We've put together some information to help you stay on top of your household bills without facing financial pressures. 

You should also visit our lifestyle and budgeting and planning pages to help you manage your money and spending.

University Accommodation

Staying in University managed accommodation takes the worry out of household bills as the price includes internet access, electricity, heating, security and insurance. It also provides a safe and secure place to live close to campus, and is a great way to meet new friends.

Remember that while renting privately may seem cheaper, the monthly rent won’t include any household bills. Take a look at our accommodation comparison (below) to decide what's right for you.

Find out more about UWS Student Accommodation

Renting Privately

If you do want to move into your own property, or feel that university accommodation is not suitable for you, we have a lot of helpful guidance to make sure you make an informed decision. You’ll need to think about whether this is an affordable option for you and what your responsibilities are as a private sector tenant.

Private Rental Guide

Information for Graduands PDF Ayr Campus | UWS | University of the West of Scotland

Check out our Private Rental Guide, which will tell you everything you need to know about renting in the private sector, from how to find a property and ensuring your landlord is legitimate, to how to plan ahead financially and work out how to manage your bills.

Download our Private Rental Guide (pdf)

Location

It is important to think about where you should live, both in terms of safety and the distance from campus. Don’t forget to consider any travel costs that might apply and include these in your budget. 

Things to consider are:

  • Parking - If you have a car think about parking. Is there enough space to park and will your vehicle be safe?
  • Amenities and services - Where are the nearest shops etc. Can you easily access the goods and services you will need, especially if you rely on public transport to get around?
  • Children - If you have a child, consider whether the property/area is suitable for them. Can you easily access services and childcare?
  • GP/Dentist - Where are the nearest health services?
  • Safety - How well lit is the area? Does the area look well kept?
  • Transport links - What time are the last bus/train services?

Try to visit at different times of day to check how the area looks/feels and to see who is out and about. Once you sign a lease or buy a home you are legally bound and have to give notice to leave so you are best to be sure ahead of time that the area is right for you.

Flatmates

Be careful when choosing who you are going to live with. Think about their habits and the impact these will have on you in a shared living environment.

It can be easy to rush into living with friends as you think it will be really fun. However, it can often be much more challenging than you expect. Check out Save the Student’s Guide to Picking Housemates and Dealing with Tricky Housemates which will help you think about who you live with and prevent issues and relationship breakdowns in the future.

If you are sharing with flatmates, this means sharing a lot of things, from bills to cleaning responsibilities. Check out Save the Student’s guide to Surviving Shared Living, for hints and tips on what to think about and how to split things effectively.

Bill Splitting

Of all the things you will split with your new housemates, the bills can often be the most contentious, so it is really important to have given this some thought and discuss your approach before committing to living with someone. Even if you are moving in with your partner, people often have very different approaches to money and it is important to work this out to everyone's satisfaction in advance of signing the lease or moving in together.

Check out Save the Student’s Guide to Bill Splitting, for some ideas on how to approach this issue.

If you are moving in with your partner, you may decide not go 50/50, depending on the financial circumstances. The Money Advice Service has a good article on other options available to couples who are planning on co-habiting.

Once you have talked through how you approach money and bills, you may feel that you need a little help to ensure that the bills are managed fairly. One option is to use a bill splitting service such as Acasa, Split the Bills or Fused. You should always ensure you understand the terms of these service providers, and are happy to proceed with them before signing up.

Finding Somewhere to Live

There are many ways to find appropriate accommodation. You can check out notice boards within the University or local shops. Ask around in case any friends, family or university colleagues know of somewhere suitable.

One of the most popular and common methods is to use internet search sites. Popular sites to use are Gumtree, Zoopla and Rightmove but there are many more and location will determine which one yields the best results for your search.

For more in-depth guidance on finding somewhere to live and the best place to start searching, check out the guidance from Shelter Scotland and Shelter England for advice.

Once you have found some properties that pique your interest, you need to be sure that they will meet your requirements. It can be hard to know what you are looking at. Here are some handy guidance notes to help you decode the adverts:

  • GCH = gas central heating
  • WM = white meter for electricity
  • WC = water closet (toilet)
  • N/S = no smoking
  • No DSS = usually prefixed by the word 'sorry', this means that the landlord doesn't want tenants who will be claiming housing benefit
  • DG = double glazing
  • EPC = Energy Performance Certificate, this must also be included in adverts for private rented housing and should give you an idea of how expensive the property might be to heat
  • LR = Landlord Registration
  • CT = council tax
  • PCM = per calendar month
  • PW = per week
  • lge = large
  • sm = small
  • rm = room

Furnished or Unfurnished?

You also need to think about whether you will need furnished or unfurnished accommodation. If you don't have any furniture, there is no point in signing up for a lease, unless you have budgeted for the cost of picking up the items you need, which can add up to be quite expensive.

Even when you rent a furnished property, these can be quite sparse, and you might wish to add your own pieces of furniture. If you do, remember that everything doesn’t need to be brand new. There are lots of ways to pick up furniture and household goods inexpensively.

Charity shops, Gumtree and Facebook are also all useful places to pick up smaller household goods and second hand items. If you are interested in larger items or white goods, bigger charity shops and other charitable organisations may stock these. Try your local charity shops, as well as Shelter, British Heart Foundation and Freegle.

Scottish Campuses

Local to Paisley Campus, RAMH run a ReUse Superstore which has everything you would need to get started in a new home.

Kilbride Hospice currently operate a number of different charity shops and warehouse stores, including one in East Kilbride shopping centre, where you can access furniture and white goods.

Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company offer a wide range of used furniture at affordable prices, and are based next to Tesco in Irvine.

London Campus

For those in the London area, Royal Trinity Hospice have 31 different charity shops where you buy from.

Landlords and Letting Agents

As you search for properties, you will find that they are either advertised directly by a landlord or via letting agents.

Letting Agents

Letting Agents act as a "go-between" service that manages the property on behalf of the property owner. Letting agents will generally deal with advertising of the property, vetting potential tenants, rent payments, arranging repairs, communicating between the tenant and landlord, and the end of the tenancy.

Generally, renting via an agent can be viewed as safer as they are more likely to have stuck to rules and regulations surrounding the rental of properties. All checks are more likely to have been carried out and it can be easier to sort out disputes.

In Scotland, from October 2018, all letting agents need to be signed up to the Scottish Letting Agent Register and most subscribe to the Letting Agent Code of Practice. If you are worried about the letting agent you are considering renting from or are already renting from, you can read the information at these links to get an understanding of the standards that your agency should be meeting.

If you are unhappy with your letting agent or feel that they have acted improperly, you can consult the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber for advice on complaints. Shelter Scotland also have advice on this.

You can search for letting agencies via the links below. If you do rent from a letting agency that is properly registered with one or all of these bodies, you can be much more confident that matters relating to your property or tenancy will be dealt with professionally and properly.

Your agent should also be registered with the local council, which you can check via Scottish Landlord Registration.

Renting Direct from a Landlord

In some cases you may be renting directly from the person who owns the property, with no middle man. This is more likely to be the case if you have found your property via word of mouth or through a site like Gumtree. You still have the same rights and regulations as a tenant if you choose to rent directly from your landlord, so make sure you fully understand these before proceeding. You can use all the resources and information on this webpage to educate yourself.

Be wary if your potential landlord appears to cut corners or if things seem too good to be true. Specific red flags might be:

  • The property is much cheaper than similar properties in the same area
  • You are asked to pay any money up front before seeing the property
  • You are asked to pay your rent or deposit in cash
  • You are asked to pay by Moneygram or Western Union
  • Your new landlord is very keen to receive money but not so keen to answer questions or give you information

Landlord Accreditations

ALL landlords in Scotland need to be registered with the Scottish Landlord Registration. You should check that your landlord is registered before signing up to rent from them.

For further security and peace of mind, find a landlord or agent that is also accredited by the Landlord Accreditation Scotland. This means that your potential landlord has voluntarily signed up to a higher set of standards.

In England, the law is less specific but you can still search for a landlord who is a member of the National Landlords Association and your local council may have a register that you can check.

Checks, Costs & Paperwork

If you are going to rent a property there will be a range of background checks, costs and legal paperwork to be dealt with before you even move in.

Background Checks

Most letting agents will perform a credit check to ensure that you can be trusted to meet your monthly rent payments. This will look at your credit history, including anytime you may have missed a bill payment, or paid this late. To find out more about how credit checks work visit our Debt and Borrowing Money webpage.

You are also likely to be asked for details of your employment status, address history and for some references to assist the agent or landlord with their background checks. You should be prepared to provide this information and ask permission from any potential referee.

You will also be asked to provide copies of key identity documents such as passport, bank statements, and proof of your current address. In addition, you could be asked to provide proof of income, such as evidence of part time work, student funding etc.

Deposits and Fees

A deposit is a sum of money secured on the property to help cover any costs remaining at the end of your tenancy, such as unpaid rent or damages. You will be asked to pay this as well as your first months’ rent before being given the keys to your new property.

Use the Planning Housing Costs section from page 10 in our UWS Private Rental Guide (see above) to plan ahead for these up-front costs.

In Scotland, no other fees should be charged up front and a deposit is capped at 2 x monthly rent.

In England the cap is 5 weeks rent. However, some additional charges are legal in England such as a holding deposit (capped at 1 weeks' rent).

Your deposit should be held in an official tenancy deposit scheme and there are strict rules about when this money would and would not be returned to you. You can find out more on page 15 of our UWS Private Rental Guide (see above).

Guarantors

If you don’t have a deposit, or if a landlord/agent requires extra peace of mind about your ability to maintain a tenancy, they may ask you to use a guarantor. This is a person or organisation who agrees to pay rent if you become unable to. You can find out more on page 15 of our UWS Private Rental Guide (see above).

You can also find more information and advice on the Checks, Costs and Paperwork involved in renting privately from Shelter Scotland and Shelter England.

Tenancy Types - Private Rentals

Before you can move into a property you should be asked to sign a tenancy agreement. The type of agreement or tenancy will depend on where in the UK you live.

If you attend one of our Scottish Campuses, this should be a Private Residential Tenancy. If you attend in London, you may find you have a different type of tenancy agreement.

You can find out more from page 16 of our UWS Private Rental Guide (see above).

You can also find more information and advice from Shelter Scotland and Shelter England.

The important thing is to read up carefully on the different types of tenancy, and what you should expect to see in an agreement, before you start looking for property. That way you have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities before you get excited about the prospect of a new home.

Council/housing association

This type of housing is very similar to renting privately, except that the landlord is either the council or a housing association. This type of housing is usually reserved for those who meet certain criteria when they apply, such as having a low income and being in urgent need of a home. However, it does depend on the organisation what criteria they prioritise, and it is always worth looking on the company websites to see if this type of housing may be an option for you.

Full-time students generally wouldn’t qualify to apply for this type of housing. However, many of our students are already living in this type of accommodation when they start university, or may have been on a waiting list and are offered a home during their studies.

If you want to find out more about local housing associations or local authority housing in your area, a good place to start is your local council website. They will have details of the council housing stock and links to relevant housing associations that might serve your region.

The tenancy agreement and pre-entry requirements for social and local authority housing are a bit different to the private sector. You can also find more information and advice from Shelter Scotland and Shelter England .

These homes will be unfurnished, meaning tenants are responsible for the maintenance of items in the home, such as washing machines etc. It is therefore important to budget for any repair or replacements costs. Often these properties also require redecoration, and upgrades such as new flooring, so you would also need to budget carefully for these costs. We have lots more guidance on our Budgeting and Planning webpage that will help you prepare for these types of outgoings.

Mortgages

If you have a mortgage when you start your course it is extremely important that you budget appropriately for making your payments. If you do not make your payments you may lose your home and your credit may be affected. If you start to struggle, you should get advice quickly. 

If you are thinking about buying a home during your studies, you should work through our budgeting page to see if this will be affordable. You should also seek independent mortgage advice before making any commitments.

Owning a home is a massive commitment. Not only is it a large financial undertaking, but you will be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of your home and garden. It is not a step to be taken lightly and there are lots of things to consider.

The following resources may offer you some guidance whether you are already a home owner and want to manage this effectively, or are thinking of buying your first home:

Insurance

There are two types of insurance for your home – buildings and contents.

Only people who own their home will need to pay buildings insurance and many mortgage providers will insist that you have this. It covers the property structure and permanent fixtures and fittings.

Contents insurance covers what is in your home. If you rent privately, even a furnished property, contents insurance is an important way to be prepared for an unexpected situation. 

There are a lot of different types of cover so it is important you do your research. You will need to think about your budget, what items you need to cover and if you already have any existing cover from other sources.

If you live in the UWS Student Accommodation, contents insurance is provided for your belongings as long as they are secure in your own room, but you might want to get further cover for more unique or expensive items you might have in your room, such as musical instruments or specialist IT equipment.

If your family has a really comprehensive policy, this may provide cover for your belongings while you are staying in student accommodation.

You can find out more about insurance specifically for students from Save the Student .

If you need a more comprehensive, or general guide to home insurances, check out the Money Advice Service and Money Saving Expert.

Other Types of Insurance

There are other types of insurance that relate to the financial security of your home. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to consider life insurance (a policy which pays out funds in the event of your death) or income protection insurance (policies which pay out in the event of unforeseen events such as ill health, accident or redundancy). These are applicable to people in all kinds of housing but some policies may be more relevant to some life circumstances than others.

The Money Advice Service explains these types of insurance, and can help you decide if they are relevant to you.

The Money Saving Expert website also has excellent guides on Life Insurance and Mortgage Protection.

When it comes to looking for a good deal on any type of insurance, shopping around is key, but you should use the resources above to know what you are shopping around for. When you are ready to look for a good deal, use comparison websites like Money Supermarket, Compare the Market, Go Compare, uSwitch, etc.

Housing Bills

Whether you are renting or you own your home, you will have a range of household bills to consider. Where money might be tight, particularly when you are on a student income, you need to prioritise your expenses to make sure you get the most out of your money.

Energy

One of the areas where we see students wasting money is on their energy bills. Many people don’t understand energy or how to improve their fuel finances, so just stay as they are, often paying £££s per month for gas and electricity. When it comes to your energy, there are two things you can do – Make sure you are reducing your usage by being energy efficient, and making sure you are on the best deal for the energy you do use.

If you are on a pre-payment meter for your energy, you can really reduce your costs by educating yourself (see the information) about how this type of energy works.

Save the Student have a great guide for sourcing the cheapest energy suppliers.

The Energy Saving Trust and Money Saving Expert have advice on reducing your bills by being more energy efficient, and mythbusting those common misconceptions.

Money Saving Expert have guidance on how to get the cheapest energy deals, including a guide specifically for those with a pre-payment meter for your gas and electricity.

When you do read these guides you will see that comparing your energy providers, and switching to cheaper providers is key theme, so make sure you know how to do this by reading the OFGEM guides to switching energy providers and understanding your energy bill.

TV Packages & Broadband

These days TV packages and broadband often come in package deal, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay for both. Everyone values their downtime and a big part of enjoying your time at home tends to be spent in front of a screen. Many people sign up for contracts that they either don’t need or don’t fully utilise, which ultimately wastes your money.

How and when you watch TV or use the internet should influence your choices when signing up for deals. For example, you might be a big user of streaming services, but rarely watch TV. Doing a bit of research in advance and really thinking about how you will use your TV and internet will help you to secure the best value for your budget.

Whenever you are watching TV, it is important to understand when a TV licence is required, Make sure you know the facts about TV Licencing for Students, and don’t get out without one.

Check out the Save the Student guides to getting the best broadband deals and the best digital TV deals.

Money Saving Expert has some great information on digital TV deals , including how to pick the right package and haggle a discount, and using streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Now TV.

When it comes to looking for a good deal shopping around is key, but you should use the resources above to know what you are shopping around for. When you are ready to look for a good deal, use comparison websites like Money Supermarket, Compare the Market, Go Compare, Broadband Choices etc.

Telephone and Mobile

Not many people use their home phone lines any more, with these usually only being in place to facilitate broadband. It’s likely that the cost of line rental will be included when you are investigating broadband, but if you do want a home phone without this being part of any broadband deal, you can find out more about this on the uSwitch website.

You can also shop around for the best deals using price comparison websites.

When it comes to getting the best deal on your mobile phone, check out our information on our Lifestyle webpage.

Storage

If you are moving between properties and have a gap between leases, you may need to store your belongings for a few weeks or months. There are lots of different companies and options to choose from, many of whom offer discounts or flexibility for students. Check out the Save the Student guide to storage on a budget, before searching for storage facilities near you, and looking for the best deal.

For all of your housing costs and bills, remember that you might be tied into a contract that is not easily broken without there being a negative impact on your finances. Make sure to take the length of any contracts into account when planning and budgeting for these expenses.

Housing Related Benefits

Your student status and personal circumstances affect which state benefits you are able to access. There are some housing related benefits that you may be able to claim during your studies. Please see our section on Benefits and Tax Credits for more information on these areas.

Last updated: 23/08/2017

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