This guidance is suitable for all students looking for somewhere to live in the private rented sector, at any point of the academic year.
For details about student halls, please refer to King's Residences.
What does renting in the private sector involve?
There is generally more choice and flexibility of contracts in the private rental sector, but you may have more processes to follow to secure your home. Make sure you take the time to understand your housing rights and responsibilities before beginning your search.
We advise you to check out our Looking for Housing training module to help you get a greater understanding of the housing market so that you can fully evaluate your options.
We also suggest looking at the University of London Housing Service's (ULHS) Private Housing Guide. It's packed with information about renting privately in London.
What are the best ways to find accommodation?
If you're studying in London, a good starting point is to register to use the University of London Housing Services’ database (ULHS). This contains details of registered landlords and letting agents advertising properties looking specifically for student tenants.
Properties for the next academic year are advertised from May onwards. Access to the database is restricted, so you'll need to complete the registration form and provide your King's student ID number.
The ULHS website also offers the following helpful resources:
- The Private Housing Guide, which is packed with really useful information about renting privately in London
- Information about their Intercollegiate Halls.
- Further information in their Types of Accommodation guide
Private Student Halls
Property search engines and third-party rent-to-rent providers
Important to know:
- We do not endorse any of these sites, and they are listed for informational purposes only.
- Unfortunately, students looking for accommodation are often targeted by scams. Take a look at our article Are there any accommodation scams I should be aware of? so that you can remain vigilant during your housing search.
I'm on a tight budget, where can I find low-cost accommodation?
London has one of the highest rates of rent in the UK. Although funding and wages are higher to this, London rents may still seem expensive or outside of your budget limitations.
There are some alternatives to an assured shorthold tenancy with a private but the accommodation might be more modest, have more rules, less security, or require you to work or take responsibility for the property to offset the cost.
Accommodation provided by not-for-profit organisations or registered charities is often cheaper than private rentals, so looking for these can help save you money. See our article Where can I find charity and not-for-profit accommodation for full details.
Some students choose to live with a Host Family. This can be a very popular option for students who are new to London and want to get to know the city better before entering a rental contract.
Other options include working for your housing provider. These opportunities are available at King's Accommodation, intercollegiate halls and across private suppliers too. This may provide an hourly wage, reduction in rent or free accommodation depending on the role. Please note there are specified recruitment dates for these roles and a requirement to undertake training.
Property guardianship is a growing option for Londoners wishing to reduce their rental costs and still live in desirable locations. It's an arrangement by which people are granted cheap accommodation in return for living flexibly, often in desirable locations and unusual properties such as former commercial buildings like pubs, offices, police stations and even historically important properties. It is worth researching the Rights of property guardians before you enter into this kind of living arrangement. Your rights are limited and, for old commercial properties, safety and disrepair may be a concern. This form of housing should not be entered without significant attention to the terms of the agreement and standard of the property.
When should I book private accommodation?
The London housing market is vast and fluid. You can secure accommodation throughout the year and, often, at short notice.
Important to know: If you need accommodation in time for the start of the academic year you may find that it is more in demand, and you may need to book something temporary while you explore a longer-term plan.
Generally, it's common for people to start looking a few months before needing to move in. We advise that you carefully consider your housing needs, budget and timescales before committing yourself to a housing contract.
If you would like to talk through your housing situation, please contact the Money & Housing Advice service.
Who should I live with?
Renting with other students can bring the cost of housing down. However, good friends don't always make the best housemates. Try to live with people who have similar budgets and attitudes to cleanliness and noise to avoid disagreements. This means having a frank and honest conversation with potential flatmates early.
If you’d like to meet other students to live with, why not try the University of London’s Flatmate Finder group? Its open to all students at institutions associated with the University of London.
Our King's Flatmate Finder Hub on Microsoft Teams is exclusively for current King’s students. You can use it to look for housemates to fill an empty room or to search for accommodation. To join, you must have completed your enrolment at King’s and have received your university email address.
Both these groups require you to abide by their published codes of conduct.
- We do not endorse any property or room. You need to exercise the same caution as you would if you found an ad on another website/group.
- If you chose not to live with other students, this will affect your eligibility for Council Tax Exemption. For more detail on this, read What is Council Tax and am I exempt from paying it?
Where should I live in London?
There are also various online resources that can help you find the right area for your needs and budget. The London rents map lists the average monthly rents for different types of home across London. The article Best places to live in London provides a helpful guide to different neighbourhoods.
For more information about househunting by area, please read the article Londonnest: Where to live and find accommodation in London as a student?
Important to know: King's does not endorse any opinion expressed on external websites. These links are only provided to help you search for accommodation.
What should I check for when I'm house hunting?
This checklist is designed to help you think about which questions to ask and what to look for when viewing properties. This list is by no means exhaustive but should give you a starting point.
Before you look
How many rooms?
Maximum weekly/monthly rent?
Personal preferences (e.g. want a double room) Location (travel costs vs rent)
Viewing inside the property
Are the facilities adequate for the number of occupants?
Are there adequate washing and toilet facilities?
Is there a shower installed?
Is the kitchen big enough? (Enough storage space, fridge size etc)
How is the water heated?
Is your room sufficient for your needs?
What furniture does the Landlord supply?
Is there sufficient heating, lighting and ventilation?
How many electrical sockets are there?
Are the communal areas sufficient for your needs?
Is there a lounge or somewhere for everyone to sit and eat together?
Is there an Internet connection?
Are you happy with the overall state of repair and decoration?
If not, is the Landlord willing to carry out improvements before you move in? (Get any agreements in writing before committing to anything).
Is the house clean? If not, will it be cleaned before you move in? Is there a vacuum cleaner and does it work? Though the Landlord is not obliged to provide this or other domestic appliances, it is useful if they are supplied.
Will it be relatively easy and economical to keep the house warm in winter? Ask for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) if one has not been offered. Ask the current tenants about the heating bills.
Does the property suffer from any damp? Attic bedrooms and ground floor rooms are the most susceptible. Feel any outward facing walls/under windows and look behind furniture.
Gas, electrical, fire safety & security
Are the gas appliances safe? The Landlord is legally obliged to produce a Gas Safety Certificate every 12 Months.
Is the electrical wiring safe? Ask the Landlord when the electrical wiring was last checked (broken or old type sockets and loose wiring can often be a bad sign) and ask to see some electrical certification.
Is the upholstered furniture fire resistant? The Landlord is legally obliged to ensure all upholstered furniture comply with the Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations. The furniture should have labels attached to show this.
Are you satisfied that the property is safe in the event of fire?
Are there fire doors?
How many exits are there from the property?
Are there smoke alarms?
Is there a fire blanket in the kitchen?
Does the Landlord require an HMO License (House of Multiple Occupation)? If you are unsure, seek advice.
Is the property reasonably secure?
Are there solid external doors?
Who has keys to the property?
Are there good locks? The best locks have a British Standard ‘kite mark’.
Are there window locks on ground floor and accessible upper floor windows?
Has the property been burgled recently?
Viewing the outside of the property
Is the exterior of the property in good condition?
Are there any loose/missing slates on the roof?
Are any of the gutters or down pipes blocked?
What is the condition of the window frames?
Who is responsible for garden maintenance?
Is there safe access to the property?
At night, is there adequate street lighting?
Is there an outside security light?
Is there a night bus?
Try walking the route from public transport to the front door at night, bring someone with you!
Is the area safe after dark?
Management of the property & contract
Are you happy with the Landlord’s arrangements for doing repairs?
What happens if there is an emergency?
Who will manage the property - the Landlord or their agent?
Have you read and understood your contract? Student Advice and ULHS offer contract checks.
Are you clear about the rent, what it includes and when it is due? This should be contained in the contract.
How much is the deposit?
Have you been informed which tenancy deposit scheme the Landlord is using? If not, ask your Landlord for details. If you don’t receive this information within 30 days of paying the deposit, seek advice as soon as possible.
Before you move in
Will the rent be split evenly?
Who is responsible for each bill? Gas/Electricity/Water/TV Licence/Phone & Cable/Internet/Other
How will you pay and what arrangements have been made to split the bills fairly? There are apps which make this hassle free (eg. Splitwise, Venmo).
Where can I get further advice on finding somewhere to live?
Finding somewhere to live when you’re a student can be very exciting but understanding the private housing sector can be challenge, especially in London.
Our Money & Housing Advice team have put together lots of resources to help you in your search:
- Our online learning module Looking for Housing tackles when to start to looking, budget, who to live with, travel and where to look.
- ULHS have a series of Housing Videos about navigating the private rental sector.
- Once you’ve found somewhere, we recommend recommend learning more about contracts in our module Signing a Private Housing Contract, Next Steps.
- The Money Mentors have tips and advice in their Blog, based on their lived experiences as King's students.
If you need help understanding your housing rights and navigating the sector, you can contact the following services for advice and guidance:
Important to know: These services are for advice only. They can’t help you to secure accommodation in the private sector. Similarly, they can’t influence or change decisions made by housing providers without a legal basis to refer to.
If you want to live in King’s Residences, Intercollegiate Halls or private halls, you’ll need to speak to the suppliers directly to register your interest in a room. Please note that halls of residence usually have strict applications deadlines and can be full and unable to accept more applications, especially at the beginning of the academic year, so it’s important to apply on time.
I have specific access requirements due to my health and/or Disabilities, where can I find suitable accommodation?
Finding suitable accessible and affordable accommodation in London can be challenging. However, the Equality Act 2010 means that public buildings ensure equal access for all to goods and services.
Many student halls, including at King’s Residences, have accessible rooms which students can request by completing the Additional Accommodation Requirements form as part of the standard application process. Visit the Additional Accommodation Requirements webpages to learn more.
If you need support explaining your accessibility requirements, our King's Disability Support & Inclusion team can help you. Most hall providers will have a similar policy as part of their registration process.
Some of these legislative requirements also extend to private landlords who provide rental accommodation. ULHS has provided more detailed guidance on your rights and links to specialised Housing Associations for students with disabilities on their website.
Please note that if you are a home student who claims disability related benefits you may qualify for help with your housing costs throughout the academic year, and further assistance in the summer. For advice of eligibility and to check a claim please contact the Money & Housing Advice Service.
Where can I look for family-friendly student accommodation?
Unfortunately, there is no family accommodation provided by King’s, but there is alternative family friendly student accommodation available from other providers. We have listed details of these below. Alternatively, you can look for suitable private rented accommodation, as described above.
Goodenough College Family Accommodation
Goodenough College provides residential accommodation in central London for postgraduate taught and research students from all over the world. The College is located in the centre of Bloomsbury and so has excellent transport links.
They aim to provide a safe and caring residential community, where students and families can flourish academically and enjoy the extra-curricular activities that they also provide.
Nansen Village aims to provide students from all over the world a homely environment in London. They offer postgraduate students and their spouses or partners and children reasonably priced accommodation.
Nansen Village is located in Woodside Park, close to Finchley in North London. Central London is 35-45 minutes journey on the underground, and facilities for parents and children are provided on site.
University of London Intercollegiate Halls
University of London Intercollegiate Halls are open to students (undergraduate and postgraduate) studying a full-time course at one of the colleges of the University of London, which includes King's College London.
Intercollegiate Halls provide a wide range of accommodation to suit the needs of every student; from catered single, twin and double rooms to self-catered studios and family apartments.
Zebra House is a “not for profit” association aiming to provide international students in London with reasonably priced accommodation and responsive support. They are a long-established London housing association, offering housing and support services for single international students, couples and families.
The centrally located and reasonably priced rooms, studios and flats are in attractive, safe and friendly environments. All the homes are within Zones 1 & 2.