Whether you're trying to find out about off campus accommodation, paying a deposit, council tax or state benefits we can lend a helping hand. We've packed all of the essential information on this page, but if you need further assistance don't hesitate to get in contact.
Rent Reduction Schemes
Due to the current lockdown you may find that your landlord or university is able to offer you some form of flexibility in relation to your rent if you are unable to live at your property. See the below links for guidance on your particular situation depending who you rent your property/room with:
- University of Greenwich: The university has a 'coronavirus break clause' which you may be able to activate. View the details here so you clearly understand the procedures and what you need to do if this affects you.
- University of Kent: If you live on-campus at the Canterbury Campus then the university may be able to offer you a rent reduction for a period of time while certain students are asked to not return to campus. View the details here so you understand how it works and check your emails for further details on the scheme which the university should have now provided to you.
- Pier Quays: If you live at Pier Quays then Unite have announced a 50% rental discount for certain eligible students. View the details here on how to check your eligibility and apply for the discount.
- Other Landlords: If you rent via any other landlord then obtaining some form of rent reduction is likely to be very difficult. View the Shelter guidance on trying to negotiate with your landlord here and if you have a fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancy (which most students tend to have) then be aware of the limited rights you have to end that contract early here.
If a property is occupied entirely by full time students it should be exempt from Council Tax.
In order for the property to be exempt you must each get a Council Tax Exemption Certificate from your University and send it to the local Council Tax Department.
If at any stage on your course you need to repeat credits or if you have to intermit from your course temporarily, maybe due to ill health, financial issues, etc, then you should still be able to claim exemption under Council Tax legislation. However this can be a very complicated advice area and we would advise you to contact us if this type of scenario could affect you.
If you signed a tenancy agreement for an assured shorthold tenancy and paid a deposit on or after 6 April 2007 your deposit will be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
You can also read more about these schemes and your rights here.
If your tenancy is covered by the scheme and the landlord has not complied with the rules, you can enforce your rights under the Housing Act 2004 by applying to the County Court. For more details on this you can download a Tenancy Deposit Protection Enforcement Pack or seek further advice from us to discuss the specifics of your case.
Letting Agent Fees
Most fees charged by landlords and agents are banned from 1 June 2019.
The ban covers most private tenancies, including assured shorthold tenancies, student housing and lodger agreements. It applies to fees charged to tenants and their guarantors. Further details in this area can be found here.
Housing Benefit/Universal Credit
This is paid by local councils to help pay the rent.
Most full time students are not entitled to Housing Benefit/Universal Credit but there are some exceptions that may be able to claim, these include (but are not limited to):
- students who are lone parents
- students with a partner who is also a full time student and you have care of a child
- students who receive some form of disability premium, i.e. via Personal Independence Payment, etc.
Part time students are normally able to claim state benefits based on the normal eligibility requirements but if you are a full time student and think you may be entitled to Housing Benefit/Universal Credit then please contact us for further advice as this area can be complicated and different rules may also apply in the summer vacation.
As a student you will have the option of living on-campus or off-campus when coming to University and while you are studying throughout your course.
We advise all students where possible to first consider renting via an 'accredited landlord' as these landlords will have received a range of training and guidance via the accreditation scheme and Medway Council. Details of what the accreditation scheme is can be found here and you can view the list of accredited landlords renting in the Medway area here.
Some students (especially after their first year) decide to live off-campus with friends they have met and it is very important, especially if you have never lived independently before, to be aware of the how private accommodation works and your rights and responsibilities.
You can also speak to your University Accommodation Office regarding landlords and help in finding off-campus accommodation as they may have good knowledge in these areas and be able to answer some of your questions. If you study with the University of Greenwich you can access them here and if you study with the University of Kent you can contact them here.
Loads of students worry that they won’t be able to find somewhere to live because there are so many students in Medway. Don’t panic!
Although we wouldn’t advise you to leave your search for accommodation until the last minute, neither would we advise you to rush out and sign up for the first place you see. Take your time and make sure that you have found a place that is affordable, in good condition, in the right location, and is safe.
A big tip is to make sure that you feel confident that, come September, you will still be on speaking terms with the people you are planning to share with!
We would also recommend that before you sign any tenancy contract you get it checked by booking a full appointment and bringing it into the Advice Centre and letting an adviser check it over for you. This is really important and will make sure that you know exactly what you are signing up to. A signed tenancy agreement is a legal contract and can be very difficult to cancel if you have already signed it.
When living off-campus please also be aware of gas safety measures and good guidance on this can be viewed on our safety advice page.
As a student you will have the option of living on-campus or off-campus when coming to University and while you study on your course.
Most 1st year students choose on-campus accommodation as it can be better socially for them and can sometimes be easier to arrange if you don’t know the Medway area. On-campus accommodation is not always available to non-1st year students but there can still sometimes be places available if you prefer to remain on-campus.
If you want more information about on-campus accommodation then your first port of call should be to speak to your University Accommodation Office as they normally run or have very close links with the on-campus accommodation. If you are a University of Greenwich student you can contact them here and if you are a University of Kent student you can contact them here.
To get a better feel for the accommodation you can also see what facilities they offer, the rent that is charged, and where they are based via the University websites. University of Greenwich students can access this information here and University of Kent students can access it here. Please be aware that the University of Kent on-campus accommodation is actually a slight walk to campus and is managed via a private company not the University directly.
Even when living on-campus please be aware of gas safety measures which can be viewed on our safety advice page.
Tenancy Deposit Scam Alert!
Action Fraud has received several reports where fraudsters are claiming to be landlords of properties offered for rent online.
How it works
- Prior to viewing a property, the criminal requests that the individual pays a deposit.
- After the victim pays the money, the scammer sends a bogus email purporting to be from a Tenancy Deposit Scheme confirming they have received their deposit.
- This email is false! The money was sent directly to the criminals' account.
- The victim is left out of pocket and without the home they thought they were renting.
What You Need To Do
- Always make sure you have viewed the property with an agent or landlord before agreeing to rent a property.
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.
- Only transfer funds when you’re satisfied a genuine property, safety certificates and valid contract are in place.
- Only pay for goods or service by bank transfer if you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
Before you pay a deposit check it is one of the Government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes.