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  • Writer's pictureGavin Rothwell

What type of Landlord should you choose?

Your first experience of renting a student house can be both exciting and a little daunting but a few simple tips should put you in control and allow you to get the type of property you want, and without breaking the bank. If you have been in University Halls throughout your first year and have enjoyed the experience you may be thinking about renting a shared house with a group of friends for the next academic year. The great advantages of this are that you can choose who you live with and where.

Choose your friends

This can be great fun but, a word of caution, choose your friends wisely.

If you are outgoing and reasonably sociable you are unlikely to have any issues but good communication is vital within your group to ease any tensions and particularly smooth out financial and social issues. The party animal you love to go out with may also be messy or noisy or fail to pay their bills so its good to discuss your ideas about how your house share will work before committing.

Group Size

How big should my group be? Well if you turn up with a tribe your options are limited. Although there are a few houses that will accommodate up to 10 people the most common house sizes are for 4-5 people sharing.

Property Location

The most popular areas are Highfield, Swaythling and Portswood for Southampton University and St Mary’s and Inner Avenue for Solent University. There are also properties a little further afield in areas like Shirley for those that particularly like more secluded areas across Southampton Common. Where you choose to rent will depend on your transport and the environment you wish to live in. If you are hoping to roll out of bed at 8:45 and still get to your 9 o’clock lecture you will need to be close to the campus. Each area has its benefits but Portswood is particularly popular as it has great night life as well as good access to the local shops. It is also priced accordingly.

Type of Landlord

Private Landlords - There are hundreds of Private Landlords in Southampton ranging from those with only one or two houses to those with larger numbers of properties. The key is to find those who are reputable and will give you good service. There are some easy ways of doing this. Shared houses in all student areas of the city must now be licensed. This is under a scheme called Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) run by the Government to attempt to ensure improvements in the quality of rental accommodation. All of these properties are inspected every 3 years by the Council and landlords must comply with their recommendations in order to gain a license. There is a list of all HMOs available for Southampton from the City Council. If it's not an HMO and the landlord doesn't have a certificate they are breaking the law.

Many Landlords use a Managing Agent to run their property for them. These are usually efficient administrators but you need to ask around if they are managing the repairs and maintenance as well. There are many very efficient operations and others that may keep you waiting for even basic repairs. Ask to speak to the previous tenants, if the Landlord is happy for you to do this its a very good sign. The tenants are usually a goldmine of information about the property and the quality of service provided by the landlord or Managing Agent. If they check out, then go ahead, you have found a good one.

Company Landlords

Recent changes in legislation by the government have seen many landlords convert to Limited company status. The rules here are exactly the same as for dealing with a Private Landlord. Look carefully at the property, read the contract thoroughly and talk to the previous tenants if at all possible.


How much should you expect to pay? Well the price ranges for company landlords and private landlords are the same. However, across the market prices per room vary considerably but the average according to SASSH is around £81.00 per room/per week/per person, not including bills. This may be a useful figure to know if you are trying to negotiate a rent. The figure including bills is around £89.00 per room/per week/per person.


Southampton University & Solent University run a joint housing website for students. This is an easy way to find reputable landlords and shared properties. All landlords must sign up to a code of practice and the site imposes minimum standards for safety as well as a voluntary scheme ranking houses as 1, 2 and 3 star according to quality. Advertisers on SASSH website must have up to date Gas, Electrical certification as well as demonstrating acceptable energy efficiency standards and HMO status. The site has a fully searchable database and this allows you to make a variety of selections for the area where you want.

Student Housing Companies

These companies have recently entered the market with large purpose built blocks of flats. These often have gyms and launderettes and some bills are often included. These can provide an excellent standard of accommodation with all the features you might need.

but the downside is they are usually much more expensive coming in at around £120-£200 per room/per week/per person. With students now having to fund their own university education this may be a bridge too far. However, if your budget is unlimited this may be an option for you.

Many private landlords also provide excellent quality and, unlike student housing companies, there will usually a garden. For those who want to play frisbee, kick a ball around or sit outside and have a barbie this type of accommodation may not tick the boxes. Whilst there tends to be more variation in the cost of rooms from Housing Companies the difference between their prices and those of a private landlord for a similar experience can be an additional eye watering £300 to £400 a month. (Ouch!) If, however you have a more limited budget you would probably be better off considering a private or Limited Company Landlord. (Perhaps I am a little biased here)

I hope that you have found this article informative. There will be more blog posts to follow including a renting checklist and articles on dealing with contracts and deposits.

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