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What to be aware of when looking for private accommodation

Read our guidance to help protect yourself when searching for accommodation in the private sector.

It's important to be aware of improper rentals and fake agencies when looking online for private accommodation.

Use this guidance to help you know what to look for and make sure you don't encounter any scam property providers.

Use our recommended search sites

Free advertising websites or social media are a common target for scammers. While some legitimate landlords may use these platforms, it's advisable to use our list of recommended websites.

Check the contract and safety certificates

A landlord or agent offering a property rental must have the following:

  • Gas Safety Certificate (GSC)
  • Electrical Safety Certificate (EICR)
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

You can check the EPC yourself online.

Properties for five or more individuals need a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence. This should be sent to you also, but can be verified online.

Landlords must also provide the accommodation contract and other documents like the How To Rent Guide. See our Online Contract Helper for further guidance on what should be in your agreement.

Avoid sending money before viewing a property

If you are an interntaional student this may not be possible, but always request an online viewing if you are not able to attend in-person.

A 'holding fee' is common, but should only be asked for once you’ve seen the property and confirmed that the person you are dealing with is genuine. The most a landlord can charge for a holding fee is one week's worth of rent. The first month's rent and the security deposit will be payable upon signing the tenancy.

Other signs to look out for:

  • if a property is in a prime location at a very affordable price
  • poor spelling or grammar in the advert
  • lack of detail, photos and videos
  • requests to wire money
  • the landlord/agent will not arrange a viewing
  • the landlord tells you they are out of the country
  • you are being pressured to make a decision quickly

If you are a victim of a scam

Notify the website or advertising platform so that they can remove the advert.

Contact Action Fraud or telephone 101 to speak to the police.

If you would like further guidance or if you are unsure of something that a landlord has said, get in touch with our team.

Contact ResLife Support

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