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Private Accommodation

If you decide to book private accommodation/a house-share option, be sure to do your research. You should use a landlord/agent that is qualified by a known accreditation scheme, e.g. MLAS (Midland Landlord Accreditation Scheme).

Where to start

You may wish to start your search with the student letting agencies below:

Other useful websites you can look at are Rightmove and Zoopla. The BCU Students’ Union has a very helpful housing guide with tips of what to look out for when you are searching for your accommodation.

Right to Rent

The law requires all landlords to check tenants’ right to rent in the UK. This means taking photocopies/scans of your passport and visa documents to be sent for checks, which can take a few weeks. (Another reason to book early!)

Rent prices

Rental prices in Birmingham are typically £90-130 per person per week. You may find that rent varies depending on the condition, size, and location of the property. For example, the houses closer to the University in Birmingham City Centre tend to be more expensive.

To sign a private housing contract, you will need:

  • Security deposit (maximum 5 weeks’ rent)
  • First month’s rent in advance (3-6 months’ rent in advance for students without UK guarantors).

Tenancy Agreement

The tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your landlord. It may be written or verbal. The tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both you and your landlord. For example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the accommodation.

You are recommended to sign a written agreement with your landlord to protect your rights as a renter.

UK Bank Account

You will need to open a UK bank account to set up a standing order; this will ensure your rent is automatically paid out of your account each month.


Guarantors must be UK residents and be able to complete a reference check. They are expected to pay the money you owe if you cannot. As most international students cannot obtain guarantors, agencies often ask them to pay 3-6 months’ rent in advance.

If you don’t have a guarantor, you can look at the following companies. They can act as your guarantor but will charge a fee.


Your landlord’s insurance does not cover your belongings. Look at comparison websites for deals on contents insurance in case of loss, theft, or accidents. Make sure you read the terms of such deals carefully and book an appointment with the BCUSU Advice Team if you would like an explanation of how these insurance policies work.

Remember to always lock the doors when you are out, otherwise both your insurer and your landlord’s could refuse to pay for your losses. Always report any theft or vandalism immediately to the police and landlord within 48 hours.

Council Tax

If you will be living in privately rented accommodation, you will need to apply for student council tax exemption status. Visit the Birmingham City Council website for more information about applying for exemption from council tax. You can request student council tax exemption letters by emailing with your full name, BCUIC Student ID number, and the property address you wish to be exempt for.

Safety tips

If you are planning to book your accommodation privately, please remember the following:

  • You shouldn’t pay any money until you are ready to sign
  • Make any payments by bank transfer and not in cash
  • Do not sign before viewing
  • Do not attend viewings alone
  • Get your rental contract checked by the Advice Team at the BCU Students’ Union (first floor, Curzon Building).
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