The Students' Union can advise you on all housing issues. Our officers can offer you helpful hints as you go house hunting and advice regarding your tenant rights and responsibilities, to advice about dealing with a council tax bill.
For free and impartial advice on looking for a house, as well as what to be aware of once you have moved in, you can also visit Student Living, which you can find on the middle floor of the Students' Union building in Trefforest.
Searching for your perfect student house? Download our Property Checklist and take it with you on viewings.
Private Housing Tips
There's no rush.
There are plenty of student houses to rent – more than enough for the number of students at USW. It’s more important to be sure of whom you want to live with and remain patient for the right house.
Look at houses with different agencies.
To see what you get for your money! Remember that the agent is employed by the landlord and gets paid when they find tenants. Look out for professional behaviour from the agents and don’t feel pressured into making a decision, handing over money or signing up. If looking as part of a group, make decisions together. Everyone should see the house, agree on location and contribute to a house ‘wish list’.
Think long term.
If you rush into signing for a house, you need to be confident you will be comfortable living with your house mates until the following summer. Be sure everyone in your group has the same living expectations.
How much will you have to pay now?
When you find a house to rent you’ll pay agency fees, a deposit and/or a month’s rent upfront. When money exchanges hands, be sure to get a receipt.
Is your deposit protected?
Your landlord or agent must protect your deposit within 30 days of you paying in accordance with law. If you haven’t had received details of how your deposit has been protected within 30 days seek advice from your Students’ Union.
Beware of promises!
If the landlord or agent makes promises about redecoration, new furniture or anything else, make sure you have these in writing and that it is written into the contract. If the promises are not kept you may still have to stay at the property.
Tenancy documents are legal contracts.
They are normally for a fixed length of time and cannot be ended early. If a group of you sign one contract you are all personally responsible for the rent and condition of the whole property.
Free, independent and confidential advice is available at your Students’ Union, come and see us!
Private Tenancy Agreements
Always make sure that you read the contract carefully before you sign it. If you are not happy or not sure about some parts of it, don't sign it; instead, bring it to the Union to have it checked first. Don't be coerced into signing a contract because you think you might lose the house. There is no cooling-off period, so if you find a better house down the road, you won't be able to get out of the contract you've already signed.
If you agree to take a house that you have viewed, and you and your housemates all sign the same contract at the same time, you become joint tenants and are therefore jointly and severally liable for any rent arrears, outstanding utility bills and damage to the property. If one or more tenant moves out, the landlord or agent can pursue the remaining tenants for any rent arrears or unpaid bills. S/he can also pursue the one who has left.
Many letting agents and some landlords require a guarantor form signed by your parents. This is a form that guarantees payment of the rent and any other bills that you are liable for under the terms of the agreement. If the tenancy is joint, be careful that the form is worded correctly otherwise your parents could find themselves liable for money owed by the other tenants.
Any promises made at the time of viewing, such as a new kitchen, new beds, re-decoration, etc., should be written into the contract with an agreed time limit for completion. Make sure you consider whether you would still be happy to live in the house if these improvements and or repairs are not carried out. If the answer is 'no', then walk away. 'What you see is what you get' is a good thought to hold on to.
The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 state that you should not have unfair terms in your contract. If you have any queries or visit the website of the Office of Fair Trading.
Living with a resident landlord, such as living with a friend whose parents have bought them a house, can sometimes be very complicated. Take advice from the Union before signing a contract. You can also look at the Communities and Local Government website.
Paying Rent in Advance.
Many agents/landlords ask students to pay rent for the whole year in the form of 12 post-dated cheques. You should avoid this at all costs. Post-dated cheques can be presented before the due date, inadvertently, and if you have insufficient funds in your account you will then be charged by your bank for 'bouncing' a cheque. Ask the landlord if you can set up a standing order instead.
Gas Safety Certificate
It is a legal requirement for landlords to have all gas appliances in rented properties checked annually, and a copy of the gas safety certificate given to tenants. This is because carbon monoxide, which you cannot see, taste or smell, may accumulate in the property from unsafe appliances, and this can kill. If you have requested a copy of the certificate from your landlord and it has still not been provided to you, you can report your landlord to the Health and Safety Executive.
A landlord has a responsibility to ensure that any electrical appliances supplied with the accommodation are safe. This includes heaters, cookers, kettles, and any other electrical goods. If you are concerned that an electrical appliance is not safe and your landlord is unwilling to check it, you can contact Cardiff Trading Standards Consumer Advice Centre on 02920 87 2059, or e-mail.
Trading standards departments have a duty to enforce legislation which covers the safety of electrical appliances supplied with accommodation.
Furniture Supplied by the Landlord
Any furniture provided by a landlord must be fire resistant. All new and secondhand upholstered furniture sold after September 1, 1990 should meet the fire safety regulations, and carry a label as proof. If a piece of furniture does not carry a label saying that it meets the regulations, it is likely that the item does not and you should ask your landlord for it to be replaced.
There are no minimum standards for what should be provided in furnished rented accommodation, but you should have:
Table and chairs
Sofas and/or armchairs
Storage for clothes in each bedroom
Heating systems or appliances
Curtains and floor coverings
Other items, such as desks, are often provided but unless agreed when the contract was signed, the landlord can refuse to provide extra items.
The design, construction and condition of any residential property should limit the chances of carelessness causing a fire, by limiting the spread of a fire and providing a safe and ready means of escape. All rented properties should have fire alarms, smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher and fire blanket. Larger properties are required to comply with additional standards. See also www.firekills.direct.gov.uk for advice on preventing fires.
Ideally a house should have mortice locks on front and rear doors, but landlords are not obliged to provide them. Window locks on the ground floor and other accessible windows are a deterrent to burglars. Always make sure doors are locked and windows are shut when you go out, and do not leave valuables such as laptop computers in view. Most burglaries occur in properties where access is easily obtained through open windows or unlocked doors.
Where to Look
Finding suitable accommodation may make a significant difference to your student experience at USW. For the majority of first year undergraduates and some international students, university residences are the preferred option, whilst others may find living in private rented accommodation more suitable.
Advisers in the Students' Union are available throughout the year to offer support and advice on seeking accommodation. We can't offer you accommodation (excluding Student Living) but will help you along the way.
USW offers a variety of residences in student houses and halls. Priority will be given to first year and International Students; however, some rooms are usually available for other students.
There are a number of private student halls in Cardiff/Newport/Pontypridd. The main providers are Liberty Living and CLV.
You will have an ensuite room and all bills are included in the rent.
Privately rented accommodation
This can be found through either a letting agent, or directly through the landlord. For a room in a shared house you can expect to pay between £250 and £400 per calendar month, excluding bills. You pay for what you get, so for £300 the place should be pretty nice. We have a letting agent based in our Treforest campus building, so pop in to browse some of our houses. Even better Student Living do not charge agency fees which can be costly!
The best place to find a property to rent from a private landlord is through the University residences Private Sector listings.
Residences support Landlord Accreditation Wales. Accredited landlords are more likely to adopt good practice and provide you with a good service. When you are looking for accommodation you can check if an agent is accredited.
We can recommend Student Living on the second floor of the Students' Union, Treforest Campus. They offer high quality accommodation and are one of the few agencies to charge no agency fees to students.
There are many other letting agents about. We cannot recommend any specifically but it is a good idea to use an agent that is accredited.
Agents usually charge a fee which will be up to £100. This fee should only be paid if you have agreed on a property to rent; you probably won't get it back if you change your mind. You should not be charged a fee just for showing you a house.
Need somewhere for less than six months?
Most privately rented tenancies will be for 6 months or more. If you looking to stay for a shorter time, your search might be a little harder.
If you use a letting agency to find your house, make sure that you know if they are going to manage the property for the landlord. If the answer is yes, you will always deal directly with the agency if you have any problems or repair needs.
You might wish to lodge in someone's home. This can be a more flexible arrangement and a good option if you are looking for accommodation for 6 months or less. The following websites are useful: