Private renting costs
You need to make sure you take all of the additional housing costs that come with renting privately into consideration when working out how much you can afford to put towards your accommodation costs. We recommend that you look at cost of living advice from our Funding teams and use the student rent calculator to work out what you can afford to spend in rent.
A room in a shared residential property in Bristol could cost between £400 and even upwards of £700 in monthly rent, not including your bills. Studios in commercial properties can be up to £1000 per month, although this does usually include bills and internet. Some rents are higher because a property is fully-furnished or it includes bills. It is a good idea to view several properties and compare what is included in the rent.
You can expect to pay rent monthly in advance, quarterly (three months in advance), or in some cases landlords/agents expect the full year’s rent in advance. Your agency or landlord should tell you upfront when the rent will be due and if you secure the property, it should be written in your tenancy.
When you sign a tenancy agreement you will normally pay a security or damage deposit. This is charged in case of damage to the property or non-payment of rent. The maximum amount you can be charged is 5 weeks rent (if your total annual rent is under £50,000) or 6 weeks rent (if your total annual rent is over £50,000).
It is law that your landlord must protect your deposit using one of the 3 government-approved schemes within 30 days of it being paid and you must be supplied with the details of this scheme and what to do in the case of dispute at the end of the tenancy.
When you leave your property, your deposit should be returned to you as long as you have not incurred extra costs for the landlord throughout the tenancy.
You should always ask the agency or landlord if any bills are included in your rent. If not, you will need to budget for:
- electricity and gas,
- water/sewage rates,
- contents insurance,
- TV Licence - you need a TV licence if you watch live TV on any device or if you watch iPlayer - see the TV Licensing website for further information.
The amounts payable for each of these will vary according to the type of property and your lifestyle. Your electricity bills will be higher if you use a lot of appliances or you have electric heating. Have a look at different tools like the Save the Student calculator to help work out your budget.
Understanding council tax including what it is, who is exempt and how to apply is covered in our Council tax exemptions webpage.
Households where everyone is a full-time student do not have to pay council tax. You should apply for an exemption within the first couple of weeks of your tenancy or you could incur costs.
To count as a full-time student, your course must:
- last at least 1 year,
- involve at least 21 hours study per week.
You will get a council tax bill if there’s someone in your household who is not a full-time student, but your household might still qualify for a discount.
If your tenancy start date is before your course start date, then you will not be counted as a full-time student for the period in between those dates and you could be liable to pay council tax for that period, as at that point you will not be a full-time student and so won’t be entitled to the exemption. The same applies if your course ends before the last day of your tenancy.
You may be required to pay a holding fee to reserve a property or room. The maximum fee that can be charged is the equivalent to one week’s rent. From the time a holding deposit is received by a landlord/agent there is a deadline for finalising and signing the tenancy agreement which is 15 days from the date the holding fee was taken, unless the tenants agree in writing to extend that deadline. Once the tenancy is confirmed, the holding fee money should be returned to you unless you have agreed for it to go towards rent.
You will usually lose the holding fee if you decide not to take the accommodation after all – so do not pay the fee unless you are certain you want to take the property.
A letting agent can not charge you fees to cover the costs of preparing the tenancy agreement, the inventory or for checking references etc at the start of a private tenancy. The only permitted fees they can charge are:
- holding fees (refundable)
- deposits (refundable)
- payments to change the tenancy, eg transfer to another tenant (this should be capped at £50 or reasonable costs if higher)
- payments associated with early termination of the tenancy
- payments in respect to utilities, communication services, tv license or Council Tax
- Default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of lost key/security device where required by the tenancy agreement.