Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start looking for accommodation?
Houses for undergraduate accommodation are usually advertised from around November to February for houses for the following academic year with contracts starting from July onwards, but it's always possible to get something at shorter notice if needed. Houses for postgraduates tend to be advertised from April until October for contracts starting in September or October.
Where should I look for accommodation?
Most student accommodation in Durham is within less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the main University Lower Mountjoy Site and is therefore within walking distance from all colleges and departments. Some areas within Durham are known to be popular student areas, but there is a wide range of accommodation types and costs spread across the city, so it is in your best interest to not restrict your search one area. A map of the main areas of accommodation in Durham City can be found here. There is also private accommodation available in the villages surrounding Durham, where you are likely to find less expensive accommodation and also more family-friendly options if you have a partner and/or children with you. Most villages have a bus route into Durham if you don't have a car.
What do I do when I find a property I am interested in?
If you are interested in a property, contact the landlord or Estate Agent directly to arrange a viewing. If you decide to take the property your landlord will issue you with a copy of the contract and you should be given at least 24 hours to decide whether to take it or not. The Students' Union Advice Service offers advice within their webpages regarding contract checks.
Will bills be included in rent?
Check on the details of each property to check to see if gas/electricity and other charges such as water rates and internet charges are included. If they are not included, you should expect to pay around £12+ per person per week extra. Ask the current tenants/landlord when you visit the property to let you know what they have been paying. Remember, if you go for a bills inclusive option, this may include charges for weeks when you are not actually living in the property i.e. during vacation periods. You may be asked to sign an extra agreement covering the bill free element, which you should also check along with the rest of your contract.
How long should I expect my contract to be?
Most properties have fixed-term contracts of 12 months unless the advert states otherwise. Undergraduate students sign contracts that start 01 July and pay rent for the summer months, even if they are not actually living in the property. Postgraduate student contracts normally start from 01 September and last for 12 months.
What about short-term accommodation?
Short-term accommodation is harder to obtain as most landlords ask students to sign a contract for a fixed-term of 12 months. However, rooms can become available for a variety of reasons mid-year (November-August). You could contact landlords directly as they may be prepared to negotiate the rental price and the length of the tenancy in these situations. Resident landlords (those who offer a room in their own home) are often happy to accept students who are here for temporary periods. Occasionally Colleges will have short-term accommodation available, however it is not guaranteed. If you wish to seek short-term accommodation for more than two weeks then please complete the Short-Term College Accommodation request form.
What do I do if I have a problem with my accommodation or I want to leave my accommodation?
If you are having any issues with your accommodation, you should speak directly to your landlord in the first instance. After you have spoken to your landlord, if the issue hasn't been resolved, you can seek free, impartial and confidential advice from the Student's Union Advice Service. If you want to leave your accommodation, remember that a tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. Your landlord will hold you to that contract, which is why it is so important to not rush into an agreement until you are comfortable with the property, your flatmates, and the terms of the agreement.
Why do I have to show my landlord my passport, student visa, or other immigration documentation?
From 01 February 2016, landlords, homeowners, and Letting Agents are required by law to ensure that someone has the right to rent in England before letting them a property. Please see the UK Government Guidance here and the University's Immigration Office FAQs here for more information about the Immigration Right to Rent Checks.