Things to check when sorting out accommodation
- When does the tenancy start and end? If it does not include the holiday periods, is this negotiable, or can you make alternative arrangements?
- When are the rental payment dates? Can you meet them? Check them against the dates when you will receive student loan payments. Are the dates negotiable if they don't align?
- Are you able to budget to pay your rent? Have you investigated where you can get financial advice on campus? Check student support services, who will be happy to point you in the right direction.
- Do you need a guarantor? If you don't have anyone you can ask, speak to student services to see if they can help. Some universities and colleges can act as guarantors, or help you bypass this requirement.
- Do you need a deposit? If finding a lump sum to pay in advance proves difficult, speak to your university or college. Again, some can bypass this requirement, or they may be able to help you through their hardship funds or a bursary.
If you are feeling pressurised into taking expensive accommodation, seek advice from student support or the students’ union before you make a decision you might regret later on. They will be able to offer advice, and can provide a list of alternative accommodation that may be cheaper.
The students’ union can help you look through accommodation contracts before you sign them. Once you’ve signed, you are legally responsible for the full tenancy under the terms agreed, so you must make sure it is the right option for you.
The Unite Foundation provides free accommodation and a scholarship fund for young people in difficult circumstances who wish to enter higher education – find out more.
Accommodation over holiday periods
Most universities provide year-round accommodation for estranged students. Some may even be able to bypass or adjust any deposit requirements, or act as a guarantor for private accommodation. Student services can offer more information about what's available at your university or college – it’s a good idea to contact them before you apply to find out more.
Bursaries and funding are often available to help estranged students pay for additional accommodation costs incurred during holiday periods, or for those taking work placements – find out more.
If you are at risk of becoming homeless
If you are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, contact student services at your university or college immediately. They may be able to assist with emergency accommodation while you find a longer-term solution. Likewise, if you are finding it hard to meet your rental payments, the sooner you get help, the better.
Contact one of the following organisations for advice and information:
- Shelter, Shelter Cymru, Shelter Scotland, and Shelter NI is a housing and homelessness charity providing information and advice to those in need. For immediate help, call their freephone number 0808 800 4444 (08:00 – 20:00 weekdays, 08:00 – 17:00 weekends), which is available 365 days a year.
- Centrepoint is a charity providing support and assistance to young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless, or facing homelessness.
- Housing Executive is Northern Ireland’s housing authority, and is responsible for dealing with homelessness. They can provide guidance and assistance if you are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless.