Independent housing

For those who choose to find independent housing for the semester, there will be help on hand to guide you through the process both pre-arrival and on arrival. Here are the basic questions and answers to get you started.

How do I find housing in advance?
It’s possible to arrange your housing before you arrive in London. Anglo Educational Services (AES), our housing partners, provide properties within the city that can be booked in advance. On this page, you can find listings of those properties alongside property information. These properties have been viewed before being listed by SU London staff, and AES is a trusted partner. For help booking with AES in advance, you can contact SU London’s Assistant Director for Programming & Student Life, Nada Silman

Any agreement you make with AES, however, is independent of SU London.

How do I find roommates and people to share with?
You will definitely need to arrange flatmates to share with. Living alone in central London is extremely rare and financially almost impossible for students. We recommend sharing, to facilitate social life, have a built-in support network, and be able to afford living in a prime location in one of the most expensive housing markets on the planet. All independent housing offered by AES (and most other providers) is for multi-occupancy flats, and shared bedrooms are the norm.

If you already have one or more friends you’re considering living with, then you can start searching together right away. If you do not yet know who you might live with, you should join the “SU Abroad: London Center” Facebook Group to contact other students from your semester and build a group to be housed with. The SU Abroad team, particularly your London Counselor, Caitlin Jarvis, can assist with this process before your arrival.

Can I wait until I arrive in London to find roommates and a good flat?
Absolutely. If you prefer to wait until you get to London to arrange housing, that’s not a problem. We provide you with hotel accommodation while you search for a property. Please be mindful, however, that the hotel we provide is only booked from Tuesday morning to Saturday morning of Orientation Week. By then, you will need to have found a property. It sounds hectic but it works well: students have always found flats during the orientation period, and we have many SU London guides on hand to assist you.

If you have roommates lined up already, you can start searching on Wednesday of Orientation Week. If you’re on your own, we’ll provide opportunities at the start for you to meet potential flatmates. Once you’re here, we will also provide you with a list of local property agents. The list of properties provided will serve only as a guideline; please note that inclusion on the list does not constitute an endorsement by SU London.


General Housing Information

What is the housing allowance and how does it work?
According to UK visa regulations, all students living independently – those who are not in pre-arranged housing – must participate in the housing allowance process. The housing allowance is a portion of the program fee that you have paid in advance to the University, and this portion is returned to you in London to cover your housing costs. You will be refunded the equivalent of £175/week.

How do rent and security deposits work in London?
Depending on your landlord and the terms of your lease, the amount of rent is either listed and paid weekly (‘pw’ or per week) or monthly (‘pm’ or per month). (Weekly may seem odd, but it’s common in London.)

In general, you will pay one month’s rent as a security deposit plus the first month’s rent when you sign your lease. Using the £175 figure, that means you will pay approximately £1,500 up front (four weeks’ rent plus four weeks’ security deposit). Please note that the housing allowance is not intended to cover the deposit on a student’s flat. Students must have other funding available for their deposit.

Be sure to do an inventory of the flat with the landlord at the beginning of your tenancy to establish the condition of decoration, furnishings, and appliances. Also be sure to stipulate in your lease how and when the security deposit will be returned. Your deposit is not automatically released before your return to the US. Security deposits cannot be returned before all bills are paid and the flat or room is inspected for damage.

What are typical leases like in London?
A lease is a binding contract between you and your landlord. You are wholly responsible for observing all the rules outlined in your lease. Inspect the flat with your landlord/landlady before signing the lease. Do not accept a flat you feel is unsuitable for your needs. Be sure to read the lease thoroughly. When you sign a lease you enter into a contract between yourself, the other students named on the lease and the landlord. You must abide by any rules stipulated in the agreement, so make sure you are comfortable with the lease before you sign it because unless otherwise stipulated, it cannot be broken.

Many leases stipulate that flats cannot be sublet, nor can other people live or stay even for a few nights without notifying the landlord. Remember, the owner has the right to enter the flat (after giving proper notification) to ensure compliance with the terms of the contract and to show the flat to future lessees. If you leave the program early, for any reason, you are still responsible for the remainder of the rent for the flat.

What other housing expenses should I plan for?

Council tax
is a tax payable by every household in the UK for local services. Many UK students are exempt but study abroad students are NOT automatically exempt from this tax. Once you have your address you can obtain a letter from SU London confirming your student status, but the decision is that of each local council. If you do have to pay, the rate depends on where you live, but £100 a month per household is a rough estimate. Council tax is included in the housing fee for students living in pre-arranged housing.

Utility Bills
In most cases, utility bills will be included in the monthly rent (or weekly rate). However, some providers will separate the rent from the utilities. Some things you may need to pay for, in such cases, are electricity/gas, internet and/or water.

You may need to consider distance to university and travel costs. For a breakdown of Oyster card charges, visit TFL’s fares & charges page.

For help with budgeting for the semester, visit our Budgets page. This will offer you some detailed guidance on how to budget, not just for housing, but for other aspects of living in London. For specific housing budget advice, click here.