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Finding private sector accommodation

What to do when looking for a privately-rented house, flat or room.

Terrace housing
How to find and rent private sector accommodation

Private accommodation options

(As we adapt our service in line with the latest government guidance on COVID-19, this information is subject to change).

If you are not eligible for University accommodation there is a range of private accommodation options available to you.

Shared houses and flats

Renting a shared house or with other students involves sharing a kitchen, living room (if included), bathroom and toilet. En-suite rooms are rare in shared accommodation.


These are self-contained living areas, usually with a kitchen or lounge, bedroom and en-suite bathroom in one space.


A room or self-contained accommodation which can have a small kitchen and/or bathroom. Communal facilities are shared with other residents and potentially your landlord.

Lodging in a landlord’s home

This is a popular option for exchange and visiting international students because:

  • It can help you adapt to living in the UK
  • You'll be introduced to new cultures and traditions
  • Contracts are more flexible
  • Rent can be less expensive

You can stay with a host family or landlord for one or two semesters.

You’ll have a bedroom, usually containing a bed, desk and chair, in their home. Bills and utilities are generally included and meals may be provided. House rules can vary so it’s best to talk to the host about their expectations.

Some websites that list homestay accommodation are:

Purpose built student accommodation

There are several private student accommodation blocks in the area that are similar to halls of residence but not associated with the University of Bath.

These are a popular option as:

  • The majority of residents are students
  • Bills are usually included in the rent
  • The accommodation is high end, including facilities such as a gym, games room and communal study space

The contracts for these can be more than 50 weeks long.

Many are for studio rooms, which can be expensive, so consider your budget before applying.

Several providers advertise their accommodation with us on Studentpad and independently.

When to start looking

You can start researching private sector accommodation early by using sites like Studentpad. This will give you an idea of location, price and availability.

Landlords list their properties here in January.

The rental market in Bath is healthy, so do not rush your decision. It is important that you are well informed and make the choice that is right for you.

How to find student accommodation


We recommend that you use Studentpad to start your search. Studentpad is a property search site managed and maintained by the Student Accommodation team.

It lists a variety of accommodation types and the site is only for University of Bath students and staff.

We ensure that all properties listed have the appropriate certification and licencing.

Other search sites

You can also find private sector accommodation by searching on:

Wherever you search, be sure that the person you are dealing with is genuine before paying any fees or signing a contract.


There are several local agencies in the area that specialise in student accommodation. They will have local landlords on their books and may be able to suggest a few options for you.

What to consider when searching


Most privately rented accommodation does not include bills in the rent.

When working out your budget, make sure you allow for gas, electricity, water and internet.

The average student spends over £500 a year on energy in the private-rented sector. Read advice on not paying too much for your energy.

If you're a student who lives on your own or with other students, you do not have to pay council tax.

If you live in private accommodation with non-students, you may be eligible for a council tax discount.

Who to live with

You might choose to live with friends from your course, a club or society, current housemates, or people you meet at a housemate finding event.

Do not rush into decisions about who to live with, as you will entering into a legally binding agreement with them.

Where to live

Read about areas of Bath if you need help deciding where to live.

Read reviews about what it's like to rent in different areas.


It is likely that you’ll need to travel to University by bus so make sure you include transport costs in your budget.

You should also consider your commute when searching. You can use Google maps to help estimate how long it will take you to travel to and from campus.

Viewings during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Check in advance that the agent or current tenants do not have any COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive and/or has symptoms. Likewise, you should not go to view a property if any of the above apply to you.
  • Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever possible. Agents/landlords should be able to help you with this.
  • Wear a suitable face covering where appropriate.
  • Viewings should be arranged by appointment only, and ‘open house’ viewings should not take place.
  • When viewing properties in person, you should avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser.

Keep yourself and the community safe when attending viewings.

Upfront costs

When you move into private accommodation, you will need to pay:

  • A deposit
  • The first month’s rent
  • A holding fee (up to one week's rent)

These will vary, but can total over £1000 per person.

Check what is refundable, know what you are paying for, and get a receipt.

Be sure that the landlord or agency is genuine before handing over any money.

Right to Rent Checks

Before you start renting you will need to prove you have the right to rent a property in the UK.

You will be asked to provide your passport and/or visa when signing the contract or when collecting your keys.

Online letting agents

If you use an online letting agent to find your accommodation, it is important to check they operate legally. This is particularly significant if you are an international student searching from overseas.

If using an online letting agent, you should check:

  • They have a Bath business address and a landline phone number, so you can easily speak to them if you need to
  • If you have to pay any fees, what they are for and how much
  • That your deposit will be kept in an official protection scheme
  • That the letting agent legally belongs to an official scheme that helps resolve complaints

If you do not check these details, it can be difficult to resolve any issues you have whilst living there, such as repairs. It can also lead to problems getting your deposit back.

Speak to the Student Accommodation Team if you need more help, on or 01225 386503.


Subletting is when a tenant lets a room or house to someone else.

Without permission from the landlord this can be illegal and have serious consequences.

If the person you rent from does not own the property, make sure that they have permission from the landlord.

Read more about subletting.

Useful links

How the University can help

The Student Accommodation team offers a range of services to help make finding accommodation easier for you:

Housing Forum

The Housing Forum is a talk for first year students who are searching for private sector accommodation for the first time.

Get tips and advice on starting your search and how to manage the transition from University accommodation to private housing.

Contract reading

The Student Accommodation Team can read through your accommodation contract for you. They’ll offer guidance to help ensure you understand your responsibilities and rights.

This is a free service that can only be provided in person, not via email.

Arrange a private sector advice appointment by emailing or book a session remotely on Uni Hub.

Landlord reference

Most landlords and agents will require a reference. If you have lived in University of Bath accommodation, we can provide a reference for you.

You can use the below information as your referee:

  • Landlord: University of Bath
  • Contact:

Please note, we can only provide references by email.

Guarantor scheme

When renting, you will need to provide a guarantor.

This is someone who will be responsible for paying your rent if you fall into debt whilst living here.

Your guarantor must live and work in the UK on a permanent basis. If you cannot provide a guarantor you can choose from two other options:

  • Use the University of Bath guarantor service provided by YourGuarantor
  • Pay the full rental fee up front at the start of the contract

More help and advice

If you need further help or advice, contact the Student Accommodation Team on or 01225 386503.

Read our information for students in private accommodation during COVID-19 here.

Other useful information can be found from Shelter and Citizens Advice.


If you have any questions, please contact us.