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The ultimate guide to dealing with student housing problems at university

While at university, if you are living away from home you will need to find somewhere to live. The housing situation varies from city-to-city in the UK. Many cities have enough housing for all students, whereas others have a housing shortage where accommodation choices are more limited. 

As a student, you generally have 2 choices of accommodation:

Student Halls / Accommodation

In your first year, this could be university-owned halls of residence or Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) which are privately-owned flats, rooms and studios designed for student living. When issues arise you can contact reception, or the on-site maintenance team to help you.

Student Housing

Lots of students choose to rent private housing in their second year of university. This could be a house or flat managed by a landlord or letting agent that you share with friends. Dealing with problems involves contacting your letting agent or landlord directly, and requesting that a maintenance team is sent to your property.

You cannot always avoid something going wrong with your accommodation. People have bad experiences in all types of student accommodation. Some bad experiences can be limited by how you manage and report issues that arise when living at the property.

FAQs Student Housing Issues

Do you have to pay council tax as a student?

Full time students do not pay council tax as they receive a discount or exemption. If you are living in a house where everyone is a full-time student, you will receive a council tax discount. This means for the duration you are living in the property, you do not have to pay council tax.

Sometimes the council may send a council tax bill by mistake. You can apply for a council tax student exemption. This involves filling in an exemption form on the government website to confirm the residents of your household. 


How do you get rid of damp and mould in a student house?

A common issue students face is damp in student houses. This could be in the bathroom, kitchen or even your bedroom! In a recent study by SOS-UK they found 54% of students in privately-rented housing experienced damp or mould on walls and ceilings.

As one of the more common issues in privately-rented housing, there are a few solutions you can try, whilst you wait for your landlord to fix the issue.

Damp and mould are caused by excess moisture in the air of your home. This may be caused by air-drying wet clothes in your bedroom, not having enough airflow or a potential leak.

It can be frustrating trying to manage rising damp in your student home, especially if you do not have access to a tumble dryer to dry your washing. To help reduce moisture in the air when drying your clothes, place the airer near an open window to increase airflow. This may feel counter-productive in the wintertime when you want to trap heat indoors. But even opening a window slightly can decrease the humidity of your home.

You may want to invest in a dehumidifier for your student house. Some landlords may offer to purchase one for the property. Large electronic dehumidifiers are effective in reducing air moisture, but may increase your electricity bill if switched on all the time.

Report penetrating damp and persistent mould to your landlord or maintenance team. Send photographs of the mould and damp as evidence. There may be a leaking pipe or area of the room where rain is getting in. It is your landlord’s responsibility to fix structural issues and send out service teams to improve the situation.


Are extractor fans required in a student bathroom?

An extractor fan is not a legal requirement in a bathroom which has an openable window. Bathrooms without a window require either an extractor fan or ventilation pipe leading outdoors. The requirement of mechanical ventilation is only required in new-build properties. 

If you have an extractor fan in your bathroom, you should use it when showering. It is good practice to also open the window to allow more warm air to escape. Reducing damp and mould in a bathroom without a window can be difficult, so make sure to use the extractor fan everyday.


Do students have to pay for a TV licence?

Yes! Students have to pay for a TV licence, regardless of the type of accommodation if you watch live TV or live-stream shows. If you live in student halls or a house-share with separate tenancy agreements, you will need to pay for an individual licence. Alternatively, if you live in a property with a joint tenancy agreement, you will only need 1 licence for the household. In this circumstance, you and your friends can split the £159 annual fee.

The channels and services on a TV licence include: BBC, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Channel4, Sky, BT, Virgin Media, Freeview, Aljazeera. The licence applies to any device you might be using.

If you receive a letter about paying a TV licence, but you do not need one, you must submit this form online to confirm you are not using your TV for the products or services offered.


Who do you contact to deal with rats in student houses?

If you suspect you have rats or other pests in your student house, contact your landlord or letting agent immediately. They will send a pest-control specialist to evaluate your situation and introduce the right measures. In some circumstances the landlord may purchase traps or poison to deter rodents from re-entering the home. 

As a responsible tenant, make sure your kitchen floor is clean of food, crumbs and spillages. If you can, move food storage into upper cabinets rather than lower down cupboards. When you put food away, ensure it is properly sealed. Make sure to empty your kitchen bin regularly and do not leave bags out on the street. Put your waste in the black bin provided outside your property.


Can private landlords refuse students as tenants?

Landlords can choose the tenants they want to rent their property to. Especially if there is a selection of interested tenants, landlords are more likely to choose someone who is financially stable and responsible. 

Unfortunately students are not a desirable tenant as they do not have a stable income and have a reputation for not looking after properties well. This doesn’t mean that all students neglect properties, but some landlords want to make a less risky decision.

If you have been put in a situation where you cannot find a tenancy which accepts students, you may want to view purpose-built student accommodation options. These are flats or rooms run by a private company, designated for student tenants. These properties are usually located next to campus and around local amenities such as supermarkets and restaurants.

Some letting agents focus on student housing and offer tenancies for uni/college students. Ask your local letting agent if they have any student properties you could apply for.


Best student bill splitting solutions?

Choosing how to split the bills can be a source of tension in shared housing. Most students will divide the cost of household bills evenly between the number of people in the house. There are paid bills packages available online which combine your water, electricity, WiFi and gas into one bill, but make sure you aren’t paying more than you need to with these services.

Some tenancy agreements in student accommodation and housing include bills in the rental price. However when you sign your rental agreement, work out if inclusive bills will be cost-effective for you. For example, if you do not require high-speed WiFi, you may want to choose the services rather than accepting what is included in the tenancy.

Shared bills can become problematic if housemates have different preferences on heating or WiFi speeds. If you wish to split them unevenly, stick to one system for every month of the year. Keeping consistent will reduce conflict and ensure everyone knows how much they are paying each month.

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