This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more details.

One of the biggest challenges facing students is not just the academic tasks that they need to complete, but the prospect of finding suitable and affordable housing away from their campus.

Property sites like might be able to offer a solution from their listings, plus there are a number of options that are worth considering when trying to put a roof over your book-tired head.

Starting the search

A fair percentage of students tend to agree that it is often a cheaper and potentially better option to try and find private accommodation rather than take up a room in the halls of residence provided by the university. Once you know what university you are going to, you’ll then want some help in finding great student housing in Birmingham (or wherever you’ll be studying) that is within your budget.

Even if you agree with that statement and option, the university might be able to play a part in helping your find somewhere suitable to stay.

If the university has an accommodation website or bulletin board that you can access, it is always worth taking a look on there to see if you can find any adverts from private landlords, who should have been vetted by the university, with properties or rooms that they are looking to rent out.

If you subsequently encounter some sort of issue with your accommodation at a later date, you might be able to call upon the help of the university to intervene on your behalf, which you couldn’t if you deal directly with a private landlord.

If you go through a letting agency, you will of course have some protection as well, so there are some plus points to using some sort of intermediary when carrying out your search for somewhere to rent.

How good is the landlord?

Despite the fact that there are plenty of rules and regulations in place that are designed to provide some protection against rogue or unscrupulous landlords, there are still times when things can go wrong at the property.

The majority or landlords and letting agents do of course respect these rules and want to develop a reputation and relationship that ensures they continue to be able to rent out their properties.

A good piece of advice would be to ask the existing tenants when you look around the property, to see how responsive the landlord or agent is, to a problem like a leak or an electrical problem.

It would be a big help to know that if you get something like a blocked toilet, there is a good chance it will get fixed quickly. It would also be just as useful to hear that it might take weeks and months to get a problem sorted, as this inside track from an existing tenant will allow you to consider looking elsewhere if you are not happy with what you hear.

The pros and cons of all-inclusive

If you are a student, the odds are high that you will be on a restricted budget and every unexpected bill could make a big difference to your finances.

This is a good reason why all-inclusive accommodation bills can seem like an attractive option, when this is offered to you as part of the rental package. The warning about this scenario is that it may well turn out to be a more expensive option, even if it is more convenient from a budgeting point of view.

Many landlords can end up over-estimating the bills so that they don’t end up out of pocket, which could well mean that you are paying more each week or month than you are actually using.

Weigh up the pros and cons of the deal you are being offered but do consider paying your own bills at the property, as it might work out cheaper and it might even make you more environmental responsible about turning lights off etc, if it is you paying the bill.

Check your tenancy agreements

House-shares are a common arrangement when it comes to student housing, but you should check the tenancy agreement to see what the terms involve, if one of your housemates leaves or doesn’t pay their share.

It is not a bad idea to have your parents guarantee the rental contract so that they have the right to negotiate and deal with any queries that arise and check the agreement for details of whether you are liable for someone else’s share of the rent if they default.

If it turns out that you are jointly liable, make sure you have all the contact details of your housemates and their parents, so that you can chase them up if the need arises.

It is always worth considering your off-campus housing options to see if you can get a better deal, but do also make sure you check everything out before you sign on the dotted line.

Thelma Porter works on the student support team at her local college. Able to fix and advise on a variety of problems from housing to coursework, Thelma has recently taken to writing articles which appear around the web to help students all over.