Off campus FAQ

Here you can find answers to our most frequently asked questions about living in off-campus accommodation. If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please don't hesitate to get in touch or consult our other accommodation FAQs.

Looking and finding a property

Check that the landlord is accredited with the local council. You can seek advice on this from the Student Accommodation Office or ASK in the SU.

We strongly recommend that you have a written contract since these clearly explain what has been agreed and what the terms and conditions of tenancy are. A landlord is not legally required to provide a written copy of the contract, and so this should be secured before the tenancy begins, preferably at its signing. If you are already living in your house and do not have a written copy of your contract, then it may be worth writing to your landlord and sending your letter by recorded delivery (recorded delivery is always the safest option to confirm whether a letter has reached its destination). In the letter you may wish to highlight that it will be in the interest of the landlord to provide the full tenancy agreement as it will clarify the terms and conditions for you as tenants and reduce the chance of any disputes or disagreements.

Newcastle including bills £80 - £90 per week

Newcastle excluding bills £65 - £75 per week

Stoke including bills £60 - £70 per week

Stoke excluding bills £45 - £50 per week

Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy. In England and Wales your deposit can be registered with:

Deposit Protection Service (Custodial and Insured)

MyDeposits - including deposits that were held by Capita

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

They make sure you’ll get your deposit back if you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement, don’t damage the property and pay your rent and bills.

Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of getting it.

Many private landlords require a third party to act as a guarantor for the rent payments before they'll agree to let a property to a student.

It's important for anyone considering being a guarantor, or for a student who needs to ask someone to be a guarantor, to fully understand what's involved. This page provides information on what you need to be aware of.

A guarantor is a third party, such as a parent or close relative, who agrees to pay your rent if you don't pay it. Your landlord can ultimately take legal action to recover any unpaid rent from your guarantor.

Your landlord may want to check that your guarantor is able to pay the rent in the same way that they've checked your ability to pay. For example, by carrying out a credit check.

There is a legal requirement for a guarantee agreement to be in writing. The agreement sets out the guarantor's legal obligations.

You will often be asked to pay a "Summer Retainer" when signing a housing contract. These are contracts by which the Landlord undertakes to hold the accommodation ready for you to move in at the start of the tenancy.

If you and the landlord have already signed the tenancy agreement, and you have a copy of it, when the landlord mentions a retainer: we say don't pay or agree to it - the retainer will give you no extra rights whatsoever and the contract will be enforceable. However: if your landlord insists on a retainer before s/he will sign the contract, you may well have to pay one if you want the house.

Retainers do not give you the right to live or store your belongings in the house during the period covered by the retainer (unless the retainer document specifies that it does give you this right). This means that the Landlord would usually be within his/her rights to let the house to someone else over this time provided they are out of the house by the date on which your tenancy begins.

However, don’t feel a retainer’s an awful deal that automatically means you have a bad landlord: if they didn’t charge these, they might well just charge higher rents instead.

The North & Central Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme’s aim is to improve both the physical and management standards of the private rented sector within the area.  If a landlord is accredited, their properties are subject to random inspections and are expected to rectify any problems found.

As long as you paid all your fees on time the Student Accommodation Office will provide you with a reference. Just email accommodation@keele.ac.uk to request this. Please include your Keele student number.

Yes, the Student Accommodation Office can provide help and advice on looking for off campus housing. There is also a Housing Fair run by the Students Union in January, where landlord are available to talk to. You can find lots of useful information and a house hunting checklist in our Looking to Live Off Campus Booklet.

Keele Student Pad is a website run by the Student Accommodation Office.  All landlords who advertise on this have to be accredited with the local council.

There is a message board on Keele Student Pad with a section to find a housemate. However, you can also search on the Keele Student Accommodation Facebook group.

You need to contact the landlord directly to do this.  You should know the availability for your group before you contact the landlord.

The Student Accommodation Office can help you to make appointments for viewings.

Fees can vary from one letting agent to another. If you are thinking of using a letting agent make sure you check if they charge any fees and how much they are before you enter into an agreement with them. Fees can be charged for various reasons and it can soon become expensive.

ASK in the Students Union can check a contract for you. We recommend that you do have your contract checked.

Both the Student Accommodation Office and ASK in the Students Union can offer help and advice with living off campus. 

This would normally be the tenants responsibility. However, some landlords do pay some or all of the utilities. You should check this before you sign the contract.

Please see our transport section.

This normally takes place in January. It will be advertised on both the Students' Union and Student Accommodation Office website.

We would advise students not to look before the Christmas vacation. This is because most landlords do not advertise their properties until then and you may miss out on these.

They start going in January but some landlords do not advertise until later in the year.

No. Landlords are advised to use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement but they can adapt this and add clauses. This is why it is worth getting a contract checked before you sign it.

You would normally expect your contract to start either the weekend before your course starts (enrolment weekend) or the week before this. However, there is no set date for this. It would normally last for 40 weeks.

An EPC is an Energy Performance Certificate. It can be used to give you an indication on your gas and electrical bills. The higher the score the lower your bills will be.

The electrical certificate requested by the Student Accommodation Office tests the electrical wiring and fixed electrical equipment to check that they safe. This is carried out by a qualified Electrician.

A gas safety record is a record, also referred to as a certificate, that is required by law to be held for all rental accommodation in the UK where there are gas appliances present. The requirement is enshrined in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. This certificate must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and is valid for 12 months.

Yes. We can help with finding temporary accommodation while you look for accommodation off campus. We can also help you to find off campus accommodation.

A room rented out in the same residence as the owner.

Moving in

Households where everyone’s a full-time student don’t have to pay Council Tax. If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption.

To count as a full-time student, your course must:

  • last at least 1 year
  • involve at least 21 hours study per week

You’ll get a Council Tax bill if there’s someone in your household who’s not a full-time student, but your household might still qualify for a discount.

Yes, your landlord should have buildings insurance but you will need contents insurance for your belongings.

Yes, if you are watching live TV you will need a TV licence.

An inventory is a list of the furniture and fittings provided in your home. It should specify the condition of items and of the property generally. Having an inventory can help prevent disputes about the deposit at the end of the tenancy. It's best to have a written inventory that is signed by you and the landlord when you move in.

If your landlord provides an inventory, check it carefully before signing it. If it isn't accurate and you agree to it, the discrepancies could be deducted from your deposit when the tenancy ends.

If your landlord doesn't provide an inventory, you should draw one up yourself and ask the landlord or an independent witness to sign it.

It's also useful to take photographs to accompany the inventory.

In house

These should be reported to your Landlord straight away. Written notice is usually the best way.

You should report this to your Landlord straight away.  Written notice is usually the best way.

This would depend on your contract. There is normally a clause that allows you to be released from your contract as long as you find a suitable replacement. You can check this with ASK in the Students’ Union.

You can advertise for this on the message board at Keele Student Pad or the Keele Student Accommodation Facebook group.

Problems

We always welcome feedback about landlords, both positive and negative.

If you have a complaint to make against a landlord you should get in touch with the Student Accommodation Office immediately. We will help you or refer you elsewhere and will be able to make a record of the problem. If your problem is of a serious nature we may be able to suspend or remove them from our website.

Please note, however, that the limit of the Student Accommodation Office’s powers is to prohibit a landlord from using our advertising website, and we are unable to take an active role in mediations, prosecutions or claims against landlords. If you require assistance in resolving a dispute with your landlord, please seek assistance from the ASK in the Students' Union.

If the landlord has promised that certain works will be carried out before the commencement of your tenancy, or that certain items / furniture will be provided, it is important that you make sure that this has been stipulated in your contract or agreed in writing. If these works not be carried out, or done in a manner which was not agreed, it is much easier to cite a written agreement rather than a verbal one.

No. Legally, landlords and letting agents are required to give at least 24 hours notice before visiting a property (often except in the case of emergencies).

We recommend that you always do this in writing so that you have evidence of what has been agreed.

The name and address of your landlord should be stated in full on your written contract. Your contract is between you and your landlord. 

The best way to communicate with your landlord is in writing. If you have sent a letter by recorded delivery you have confirmation that communication and notice has been received by your landlord. In such cases, we recommend you seek help and advice upon your situation; you can contact the Student Union's ASK for advice regarding these matters.

You can do several things which can minimise friction and make both yours and your neighbours’ lives easier:

Settling in: When you move in, introduce yourself. This might seem obvious, but knowing a face and a name can make all the difference in improving relations and easing communication.

Parking: Cars can sometimes cause disputes. Making sure you only use your designated garage or driveway is only fair and considerate. If you need to park in the road make sure you do not block access for your neighbours and are not parked illegally or dangerously.

Noise: You should be considerate about the amount of noise you make, both for the sake of your neighbours and housemates. If you are planning to have a party then it is best to inform your neighbours in advance. Generally, if you are having a party, noise is expected to be kept reasonable and excessive noise after 11pm can be seen as an offense.

Upkeep and gardening: There is no prerequisite to having a beautifully maintained property. However, general upkeep, maintenance and cleaning will be required. This means making sure that plants are not causing a nuisance / problem for neighbours, taking out the rubbish regularly, etc. Leaving these problems to get out of hand can encourage pests and vermin and will only make exiting your house more of a pain. These are simple tasks which make a big difference in the long run.

Talk it through: Most disputes with neighbours can be solved through simple mediation and face-to-face talking. Be open and receptive to communication and you may find that the majority of these disputes can easily be resolved. When having such talks, take care to be civil; your point will not be best put across through heated conversations.