Types of student accommodation

This webpage contains information for students who are living away from home for the first time.

Moving away from home to study is the beginning of a whole new stage in life for many students. It may mean taking on new responsibilities that were previously held by parents and/or older siblings. This page has information about the types of accommodation at university, and practicalities of living independently.

Shared accommodation

Many students now live in shared accommodation. This might be in a hall of residence, often for the first year, or off-campus.

Halls of residence

Students in halls may have to share a room and will almost certainly be sharing kitchens and other living spaces. Sharing may cut down on living expenses; but there will inevitably be challenges. Sometimes a chat with your roommate can iron out any initial disagreements, and an ability to compromise will be helpful. However, if this does not work, students in halls could speak to the hall’s warden about the possibility of a transfer. Bear in mind that most universities have a ‘settling in’ period during which time you cannot transfer. Even after the settling-in period, halls are very popular, and often accommodation in an alternative hall cannot be found. Students should contact their student support services for further assistance.

Off-campus accommodation

Students who have spent their first year in halls will often have established a network of friends and will have a good idea of who they might like to share with after their first year. However, problems may still arise.

Common problems include housemates not paying their share of the rent or bills, being too noisy, or not doing their share of the household tasks. The Citizen Advice website has information about the day-to-day practicalities of living in shared accommodation, including choosing your housemates, respecting each other’s privacy, and basic house rules.

Students also need to be aware of the legal implications of a house share, for example, who pays for what, whether you’re in a joint tenancy, and what happens if a tenant leaves. Jointly signed rent and utility agreements can prevent one or more flatmates being left with the responsibility for tenants debt.

For further information, see Adviceguide, on the online Citizens Advice website.

Sometimes, the shared houses offered for to-let students are in poor condition. Students who are living in sub-standard housing can check with their local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to see if their landlord is fulfilling his/her obligations, for example, carrying out annual gas checks and ensuring proper fire safety measures are in place.

To find your local bureau, see the Citizens Advice website.

For further information on tenants’ rights and landlords obligations, see the Shelter website.


This webpage was last reviewed in July 2023.

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