We set up a facebook group to allow you to advertise vacancies and find people to share accommodation with. Please read the guidelines we’ve pinned to the top of the group before posting.

Official accommodation group
Starting your search
Key Point
Don’t be rushed into signing up

Despite what you may be told, there are more than enough houses to go around. Because of this, agents are keen to sign tenants up early so they don’t have un-let properties. That’s their problem, not yours, so take your time when searching for a house.

Get to know your housemates

You are going to be living with these people for the best part of a year and mis-matching of housemates can cause misery. Have a frank discussion. Who likes to have the heating on at 28 degrees and who would rather put a jumper on? Who thinks that you do the washing up after dinner and who thinks you do the washing up only after every piece of crockery in the house has been used? Does anyone smoke, like to play loud music late at night, languish in the bath for an hour etc?

Talk to your guarantors

Agents will usually ask each tenant to provide a UK-based guarantor. This will usually be a parent. The guarantor undertakes to pay the rent should you (or your housemates) fail to pay. If you are unable to provide a guarantor you may be asked to pay several months’ rent in advance.

Key Point
Decide on a budget

Be realistic and work out what you all can afford before you start your search. Add up all the money you expect to have over the year and divide by 12 to convert it to a monthly figure. Most private rentals are for fixed periods of 12 months so you will be liable for rent for a whole year. In addition to rent you will probably have to pay for gas, electricity, water, phone, internet access and a TV licence. You also need to budget for food, toiletries and household items. Work out how much you are likely to need and then look for something that is within your means.

Decide the type of property you’re looking for.

How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms? Do you want a communal living room? Do you need parking spaces, room to store bikes, a garden?

You are probably not going to find a house that ticks every box but it would be worth deciding as a group what your priorities are.

Consider the area of Oxford you’d like to live in

You may not find the perfect location, but it's worth thinking about where you want to be. Do you want to be close to the university, to shops and pubs, in a student area? Is there an easily accessible bus route? You can find bus routes by searching the Oxford City Council website www.oxford.gov.uk

Research Agents you're looking at

Houses are usually rented through letting agents, and it is a good idea to use one that has signed up to the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) nalscheme.co.uk. Members of NALS must have a complaints procedure that you can use in the event of a problem. It is also worth checking to find out whether an agent is a member of Oxford City Council’s Landlord Accreditation Scheme. The Scheme will not guarantee a trouble-free let but agents do have to sign up to a minimum set of standards, and if you find they fall short you can report issues to the Council. To find out more about the scheme search for ‘Landlord Accreditation Scheme’ on the Oxford City Council website www.oxford.gov.uk

You may also find helpful reviews of agents by looking online.

Viewing properties
Check as many properties as you can

Spend some time, look at as many properties as you can and write notes so you can compare their pros and cons.

Key Point
Be thorough

Be thorough and look in every room. Decide whether the bedrooms are big enough for everyone and whether there is enough storage space. Check for signs of damp or mould by looking carefully at the walls and in cupboards and behind doors. Check all the taps, showers, toilets and kitchen appliances to make sure they are working. Look at the locks on the front and back doors, check whether the windows have locks and that the house has good security. If there is a garden consider how you will maintain it. If you can, ask current tenants how much the utility bills are.

Check who manages the property and whether it has a HMO licence.

Find out from the agent who manages the property; is it the landlord or the agent? Ask whether the property has a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence. Housing of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence – If you live in a property where there are a total of 3 or more individual occupants Oxford City Council requires the Landlord to have an HMO licence for the property you live in. This is done for a number of reasons but most importantly to protect your health and safety whilst you are living in the property. You can check whether a house has an HMO licence by going to oxford.gov.uk and searching ‘HMO licence’.

If there are problems and the agent agrees to fix them, get it in writing.

If you identify any problems such as a broken shower or a non-working fridge, don’t rely on verbal assurances that all will be fixed before you move in. Ask the agent to put it in writing. If it isn’t in writing you won’t be able to prove it was ever agreed.

Choosing a House
Reserving the property

Once you have found a property you want you will be asked to pay a fee to take it off the market, usually referred to as holding deposit. Do not pay any money to reserve a property until you are sure you want to go ahead with the rental as you won’t get it back if you change your mind. Ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement and go over it before you reserve a property. If you have any concerns or queries contact Brookes Union Advice Service. We will be happy to go over your contract with you.

Signing the contract

Once the checks are completed and the contact is drawn up you will be asked to sign it. Signing a joint tenancy is a serious undertaking. As joint tenants you are each legally responsible for ensuring that all of the rent and not just your share is paid. You will also be jointly liable for other costs which may arise from the tenancy such as damage caused by you or your housemates. At this stage you should decide who the “Lead Tenant” will be. The lead tenant is usually the person named first on the list of tenants. The landlord or agent will provide details about the security deposit and will return it to the lead tenant so it is important that you agree who this person will be.

Security Deposit

You will be asked to pay a security deposit, typically one month to 6 weeks rent. Your landlord is required by law to register this deposit, within 30 days of payment, in a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. In addition your landlord must provide you with information about which company it has been registered with. If your landlord fails to do this you may take legal action. Security deposits should be refunded in full as long as you have paid your rent and not damaged the property. You can find out more about security deposits by going to england.shelter.org.uk and searching ‘tenancy deposit scheme’.

Other fees and charges

In addition to a holding deposit you will be asked to pay various non-refundable fees and charges which may include fees for drawing up the contract, checking references and preparing an inventory and check out report. Agents are obliged to provide clear information about their charges before you sign up. If you think the charges are not clear or are unreasonably high contact Brookes Union Advice Service for advice.

Other housing options
Halls

Renting a room in University halls is an option for all students not just first year students. You have an individual contract so you are only responsible for your rent. For information on halls accommodation contact Brookes Accommodation Bureau (brookes.ac.uk/accommodation) f you have not already done so. They will be able to tell you whether they have any halls accommodation available.

Be aware that Brookes have a mixture of university owned and private halls. The contractual terms are different for each so make sure you understand the terms of your agreement.

You could also try their Facebook accommodation community page: facebook.com/brookesaccommodation

Brookes lettings

Brookes Lettings houses are private properties in Oxford close to Headington and Wheatley campuses that are let and managed by the University. Again, you have an individual contract for a room in a shared house so you are only responsible for the rent on your room not the house. Let periods are for between 46 and 50 weeks. As with hall accommodation you can only end the let early if you can find another Brookes student who is not currently in Brookes accommodation to take your place. You will not pay a deposit but will need to pay a £230 booking fee which will be credited towards the rent. For more details of shared house availability contact the Accommodation Bureau by email on accomm@brookes.ac.uk, or telephone 01865 484660.

Renting a room in a private house

This can be either in a family home or in a house that is occupied by tenants renting separate rooms in a single house. Rights and responsibilities vary depending on whether the landlord is resident.BUAS can give you further information on your individual situation. Brookes Accommodation Bureau http://www.brookes.ac.uk/studying-at-brookes/accommodation/ will give you a copy of their latest lodging list which has information on resident landlords with rooms available to rent.

The websites below list accommodation:

www.dailyinfo.co.uk

www.easyroommate.oco.uk

www.spareroom.co.uk

www.rightmove.co.uk

www.zoopla.co.uk

You can also join the Brookes Union Facebook Housing Group where students who have spare rooms to let or are looking for accommodation or housemates can post messages.

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