How and when to apply for student accommodation
When it comes to searching for the perfect accommodation away from home, it’s good to be organised. If you know what you want out of your university experience - whether it’s being close to nightlife or in a calmer atmosphere - then applying early will help ensure that you’re placed in a suitable location with like-minded people, where you can build lasting friendships.
Our guide gives you the lowdown on what students - and their parents - need to know while applying for student accommodation, and more importantly, when to apply for student accommodation.
How to apply for student accommodation: What are the steps?
After receiving your university offer, here are the steps you will need to take when applying for accommodation.
1. Make a list of preferences
University-owned student accommodation is allocated based on preferences and availability. This means that not everyone will get exactly what they are looking for, but accommodation officers will try their best to match students to suitable houses. Whilst some prefer to go down this route for ease, staying on campus is not compulsory. Private halls can be a great alternative for those who want to ensure that they have all the facilities they desire.
Here are some things to think about before making an application.
- Cost – rent in student halls can range from as little £60 per week for a basic room to £250+ per week for a studio apartment – it really depends on the city you’re looking to move to! Consider what is realistically affordable and remember to find out what is included in the price. For instance, at Liberty Living, the rent price includes Wi-Fi, all bills, 24/7 security, maintenance services and more.
- Location – some students prefer to live on campus, whilst others like to have a more central location, so they can explore the city and enjoy a diverse social life. Wherever you choose to live, remember to investigate the necessary transport links to get around. It may even be worth getting a travel card if you are far away from university grounds or like to travel about at weekends.
- Facilities – this is extremely important if it’s your first time away from home. You will need to think about everything from cooking facilities (are you a whiz in the kitchen?) to bathroom access (would you freak if you didn’t have an en-suite?). Most accommodation providers include facilities such as laundrettes, communal spaces and game rooms. Our residences also include on-site staff who will assist with residence queries, as well as look after those letters and food parcels from home (until you’re able to collect them!).
- Special requirements – for people with disabilities or dietary/medical needs, finding suitable student accommodation can be a worry. When booking your accommodation, it is important to inform the residence team or the university of any requirements you may have. They will be able to assist you throughout your stay and ensure you get a room that suits your needs.
2. Apply online
Most accommodation applications are made online via the university of your choice or through the provider’s own website, where you can usually specify the type of room you’d prefer. Most halls will try to place you with like-minded people. At Liberty Living, we do our best to allocate rooms according to our applicants’ preferences, so that they’re more likely to be living with students in the same year of study and people with similar interests.
3. Contract and documentation
When you get an offer of accommodation, you will need to read all the information you’re given, including terms and conditions. You’ll also be asked to provide some documents, such as a form of identification.
- Contract – On your contract, the signatures required will be the students’ and your guarantor, which will usually be your parent or guardian. A typical contract length for residences is generally around 40 to 44 weeks, but with some residences, you can book a 51-week contract should you require it. This may suit those students coming from international shores, who may need more time to settle in and get used to their new surroundings.
- Deposit – Once you have signed on the dotted line, students will be required to put down a deposit or forward payment (cue bank of mum and dad). For private accommodation, there is also normally a small booking fee to be paid, but there’s no fee if you book through Liberty Living.
- Documentation – If you’re new to the application process, you’re probably wondering what documents you need when applying for accommodation. Most application systems will ask for your student number and some form of identification. For private houses, ‘Right to Rent’ checks may apply; you will need proof of being a UK citizen or you will need UK immigration status documents if you are moving here from abroad.
When can I apply for student accommodation?
“When can I apply for student accommodation?” is one of the most common questions asked by both students and parents alike. Well, the good news is that you can apply at any point in the year.
However, for many, this step comes after you have received an offer from your chosen university. There’s never any harm in looking prospectively beforehand to give you a flavour of what to expect, and to identify the type of room, facilities and location you want to be in. There are lots of options to consider, such as city centre or on campus, smoking or non-smoking, mixed or single sex halls. It’s worth bearing in mind that by the end of May, many rooms will have gone, so don’t delay your booking!
How and when do I pay for student accommodation?
Common queries that run through parents’ minds are payment schedules, deposits, how payments are taken, and who pays for the accommodation. When it comes to paying the rent, this is organised between you and the university or private company. There are usually a number of payment options, so you can pay upfront or in manageable instalments via BACS or with a debit or credit card.
When can I move into student accommodation?
So when can you move into student accommodation? Suitable move-in dates will be provided by your university, and most students turn up the weekend before their induction week. With private accommodation, it can be a bit more flexible. We recommend allowing yourself ample time to settle in and meet new people and being here to attend Fresher’s Week parties and socials. Move-in dates can start from as early as the last day of August, all the way up to late September.
At Liberty Living, we organise welcome parties to give students arriving at our residences the opportunity to meet each other and break the ice. If you apply to live with us, remember to sign up to receive emails about events and competitions so you don’t miss out on all the fun!
We also have rooms on offer during the summer period, so if you want some extra time to settle in, feel free to contact us and we’ll see if we can accommodate you.
You will be able to collect your keys on (or any time after) the start date of your contract, so bear this in mind when applying. We always create a Facebook Group for each of our residences, so that you can join the group and start getting to know your new flatmates before you move in. For more questions about renting student accommodation at Liberty Living and moving in, visit our handy FAQs section.
How do I choose the right student accommodation?
Finding a place to live, which acts as both your social pad and home from home during your studies, is one of the most exciting aspects of being a student when starting out on your university journey. While for parents, there may be some apprehension (mixed in with those proud feelings of elation) when you fly the nest, here at Liberty Living we have your family’s best interests at heart and want to provide reassurance alongside the nerves and excitement of going to university.
Our residences across 19 different cities are super close to the universities and city centres, as well as nightlife, attractions and amenities you will need. You can book Liberty Living accommodation at any point during the year, though be mindful that we have a first come, first served policy.
If you are a first-year student, check with your university of choice on their booking policy, as we are often nominated as their ideal student accommodation provider, which may require you to book through them. If you’re coming through clearing, don’t worry, we’ll do our best to help you out with your accommodation, where we can. Book online with us as soon as you have your university offer so you’re not left disappointed!