For all of your Housing queries, the Advice & Support Centre is online all year round to support you with advice about looking for, living in & leaving your accommodation whether it is in a halls of residents or private rented property. If you need to talk to someone in private about an issue or experience, you can book an appointment with one of our advisers to talk through any questions you may have. Or you can attend one of our zoom drop in sessions that happen daily. This is a confidential service.
Finding accommodation when you’re a student can be an exciting but also daunting task. This page will assist you when looking for private rented accommodation. If you are interested in University Accommodation please contact the University directly or navigate their web pages for more information Swansea accommodation. Our advisers may be able to give advice on University accommodation too.
We know that looking for accommodation as a student can be an exciting time but also daunting with questions of who will I live with and how do I set up utility bills?
So take a moment before you start looking for accommodation and prepare so you can make an informed choice!
In the student’s union we have a house viewing checklist that you can look at to help you know the essentials when viewing houses and flats.
First things first when you start searching for accommodation you need to decide what type of accommodation you want, Halls of residence on Campus, Private Halls of residence off campus or private rented housing. One of the first things we would recommend is figuring out what your budget is and how close you want to live to the University.
With private rented properties which will usually be an assured shorthold tenancy if you pay a deposit the landlord or letting agent must protect your deposit through a Government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme.
This is a rule that applies to all assured shorthold tenancies that started after April 2007
Once your tenancy deposit has been paid to a landlord or agent they have 30 days from receiving it to:
Protect your deposit with a government backed scheme, and
Provide you with certain information such as the tenancy deposit scheme used, how to get your deposit back when you leave, what to do if there is a dispute about its return, details of the tenancy, including the amount fo the deposit paid and your landlord’s name, address and contact details, together with a certificate signed by your landlord confirming it is true.
Your landlord should confirm to you it has all been protected and provide the above evidence. If they don’t do this you can check with the three government approved schemes that are listed below
There are things that can be done if your landlord is refusing to protect your deposit, you can come in to speak to us about this or look on Tenancy deposit protection schemes - Shelter Cymru
Holding Fees & Prohibited Payments
Since the 1st September 2019 there has been a letting fees ban on any new assured shorthold tenancies in Wales. This applies to both private landlords and letting agents.
Fees that are banned
drawing up a tenancy
renewing a tenancy
amending a tenancy term, for example adding in more conditions
requesting or amending a tenancy if one joint tenant leaves and is replaced by another
viewing a property
These have all been banned so if your contract mentions paying any of the above, then this term is not binding on you.
If you have paid a banned fee to your landlord they cannot evict you using a section 21 notice until the money is repaid
The only things you can be charged a fee for are below.
You are late paying your rent
You want to reserve a property and the landlord or agent is charging a ‘holding deposit’
You have broken a term of your tenancy agreement and the landlord or agent is entitled to charge a ‘default payment’
Other costs of renting
Viewing a Property
Here are our four housing top tips followed by a viewing checklist.
1. Don’t rush
- Choose housemates wisely
- Plan to visit at least 3 properties as a group
- Read through your contract in detail before committing
2. Make a wish list
- Areas you want to live in
- Size and type of property
- Access requirements and parking availability
- Minimum and Maximum rent budget
3. Beware of promises
- If the landlord is making promises (redecorating, new furniture..) make sure it’s written into the contract with a finish-by date
4. Ask questions
- Is the summer retainer half rent
- Do you need to pay a deposit upfront?
- Is your deposit protected?
- Is your tenancy joint or individual?
- Have you talked to the current tenants?
House Viewing Checklist
Check before viewing
Ask your Landlord or letting agent
Is it a joint or individual contract?
How much is rent per person, per month?
Cost of bills estimate?
How much is the summer retainer?
Do you have access over the summer?
How much is the deposit?
Which deposit protection scheme will be used?
Do you need a UK guarantor?
When can you move in?
Are any renovations planned?
Check out the local area
Is there enough shared space?
Is there enough study/storage space?
How many bathrooms/ toilets are there?
Enough kitchen units/fridges?
Does it come furnished?
Ask the Current tenants
Safety and security
Many private landlords and agents will request that you have a guarantor they will usually need to earn over a certain salary and often be a homeowner. If you believe you will struggle with having a guarantor, it is important you are upfront with the landlord or agent and tell them this from the start. They may consider not requesting a guarantor if you are able to pay further months rent up front.
It is important to be aware though that sometimes there is no way getting around the request for a guarantor which may mean you need to look at other accommodation and not the one that is requesting this as a requirement.
The purpose of a guarantor is to provide security to the landlord and agent, as if you miss a rent payment or are unable to pay rent this guarantor will take on the responsibility and then be liable to pay the rent on your behalf.
Signing a Contract
After going through all of this if you are certain, it is the property you want to move into it is important you read through the contract in detail and make sure you understand all parts of the contract if you have concerns or don’t understand something ask the accommodation provider or someone else that will be able to help.
In the advice centre we are always happy to help in this way so please do contact us.
You have now found your accommodation and have sorted out if you will be living with anyone else. This part can be even more exciting as you have an idea of what will happen next and know where you are going. This next section will provide you with advice on what to do when first moving into the property and during your tenancy.
You will have been given a date that your tenancy agreement starts and this should be the date that you are able to access the house or flat and collect your keys for the property. If your landlord or agent start saying you can not pick up keys until another point you need to tell them that this is not right, you may need to put in a complaint but you legally should be allowed to receive the keys on this date unless you are paying half rent for the summer months in the form of a retainer.
Retainer summer payment
Some landlords and agents will allow you to pay half rent over the summer months July / August and only allow you to store your belonging in the property over this time. This may mean that they will not give you access to the keys and that you would need to arrange with them for a suitable time to visit the property and put your belongings in there. Some accommodation providers may say that during this time you are not allowed to stay over night at all but others may allow you access to the property for a short period of time to stay a weekend or overnight. We would recommend having these conversations with the landlord or agency if you believe you may need to access the property at some point.
They may also allow some people to pay full rent and live in the property over the summer and others just pay the half rent. More often than not they will expect all the tenants to agree to one arrangement and either pay half rent or full rent.
If you believe that someone else is given access to live in the property while you are paying the summer retainer this is illegal and you should approach the landlord or agency about this to find out what is happening. Also come and speak to us if you are unsure on the situation.
Move in inventory
When you move into a rental property they will usually give you a move in inventory that includes pictures of the inside and outside of the property showing the condition of the whole house or flat. You will then be given the ability to check through this over a week and confirm whether you are happy with the pictures and condition listed on the inventory. If you see any issues or mistakes it is important you make these known to the landlord/agency right away.
This move in inventory will be used when you move out of the property to compare the condition of the accommodation with how you have left it. If the property has been left in the same condition or a better one you can not be charged for any damage or issues from your deposit. If there are obvious signs of things being in a worse condition when you move out past the general wear and tear of living in a house for a year or longer they can request part of your deposit to be deducted. You have the ability over this time to say you disagree with this.
Sometimes we can fall out with those we are living with and have arguments due to different issues in the property or in our personal lives. If this is the case we have trained advisers who are able to mediate between you and a housemate or the whole house. Please do contact us if there is an issue that needs mediation.
Often arguments can start because someone is making a mess in the property or people feel someone isn’t equally pulling their weight to clean and tidy the property. When you first move in it could be worthwhile talking about how you will be washing dishes, whether this will be a joint thing for the whole house or you just wash your own dishes. Also things like buying milk and bread if you will be sharing it in the house or if everyone will be buying their own things.
It is always better making sure everyone knows the expectations right at the start of the tenancy so that everyone can continue throughout the year and avoid any unnecessary arguments
Choosing a room
Sometimes on your tenancy agreement it may make it clear which bedroom you are going to be staying in but often you will all be able to pick and choose which room you want. We would recommend having this conversation early on making it clear if you are planning to move into a specific room to avoid arguments if someone else moves their belongings into that room first.
When you have moved into your property it is important to make sure you know where the gas electric and possibly water meter are and take an initial reading on your move in day so you know the correct figures to start with. Then it would be recommended to take frequent readings of these either weekly or monthly and note them down letting your landlord know if bills are included or contacting your energy supplier if you are paying the bills yourself.
This should avoid any large unexpected bills arriving while you live in the property.
You have now most likely finished your fixed term contract and are either moving home or into a new property so what should you consider when leaving the property?
When you are getting ready to leave the house or flat it is important you look at the inventory you received way back when you first moved in and compare the condition the accommodation was at the start. Once you have done this you will then need to start cleaning, although agents and landlords can’t charge cleaning fees if the property is not in the condition, it was when you moved in the cleaning costs can be deducted from your deposit. Please find a suggested cleaning list below.
When you have fully moved out of your property your landlord or agency will go around the property and complete a new inspection by filling in the move out inventory. This will include all pictures of the property attempting to take identical pictures that were included on the move in inventory.
If there are obvious discrepancies in condition due to how clean something is or damage and your landlord or agent wasn’t notified before this will be listed down and sent to you with an invoice of how much they want to take off your deposit. At this point you can go through the two inventories as well and raise anything if you disagree and you can put a counter suggestion in on how much you would be willing to pay from your deposit.
Your agency or landlord can decide to accept this or not and would then put it through the deposit protection scheme who would then contact you to ask for the suggested amount to be deducted. If you agree you can tell them and this will all be arranged. If you disagree you can tell them and then the deposit scheme will act impartial and consider everything you say and that accommodation provider says.
Ending a Contract Early
You may be looking at leaving your accommodation before the contract has ended this could be due to many different reasons. It may be worthwhile coming to speak with us if this is you, but below are a couple of suggestions.
With private halls of residence if you are no longer a student due to you suspending your studies, deferring or being withdrawn from the university you can get written confirmation from the university that you will not be a student. This can then be passed onto the private halls who may be willing to end your contract. If you will still be a student they may allow you to end the contract early if you can find a replacement.
In private rented accommodation you would be liable to pay rent until the contract ends unless there is a break clause. If you stop paying the rent your guarantor could be chased up to pay the rent on your behalf. You may also be able to find a replacement tenant to take your place if the other tenants all agree as well.
Landlord / Agency Registration and Licensing
Landlord registration and licensing helps monitor private landlord and agents to make sure they are suitable people to rent out properties.
The registration and licensing scheme in Wales is run by Rent Smart Wales who you can use their public register to confirm if your property has the correct license and registration.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy and your property is not registered your landlord is committing an offence and can face penalties. To become registered they must provide accurate information about themselves and all their properties that they operate in Wales.
Any person who lets or manages a ‘domestic tenancy’ in Wales must have a license on the Rent Smart Wales scheme. They would need this to take rental payments and issues contracts etc.
To check if your property is registered you can go to Rent Smart Wales and put the number of your address, street name and postcode or city.
If you live in a house of multiple occupation (HMO) your landlord must also comply with he Rent Smart Wales scheme in addition to extra licensing rules they also need to follow.
Do I live in an HMO?
You may be living in a HMO if the house or flat you live in is:
What responsibilities does your landlord have
Ensure the property is kept in a safe condition
Proper fire safety measures are in place
Annual gas safety checks are carried out
The licences needed by the landlord
Licence and registration needed by all not just HMO’s
In addition to RSW your landlord must apply to the local council for a licence to rent out your property as an HMO if :
Local authorities may also insist that other smaller HMOs in specific areas are licensed