Student Accommodation Terminology

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Casita Team

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07 June, 2021

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5 mins read

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Student Housing

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Finding student accommodation that caters to your needs and lifestyle requires being familiar with the terms used in the field. That way when you are doing your research, you’ll recognise the basic terminology that will help you better understand the student accommodation world. Here are some of the most used terminologies you’ll come across while looking for the perfect student room.

1. UK Deposit

UK deposit is the advance payment that students make before moving in to act as a holding fee and a security deposit. Deposits are refundable at the end of the tenancy period if there are no damages done to the property by the student.

2. Advanced Rent Payment

In Scotland, It’s illegal to accept any kind of payment before the student checks into their student accommodation; therefore, buildings ask for an advance rent payment (ARP) instead of a deposit. ARP is usually counted toward the first instalment of a booking, which means if it’s £1000, for example, the student will pay £250 to book the accommodation then proceed to pay the remaining £750 at the first instalment’s due date.

3. Australian Bond

A bond is more common in Australia and is a non-refundable 2-4 weeks rent payment that is considered part of the rent. It should be paid in advance and before the tenancy commences, which is before the start date of the student’s contract.

Read our UK Deposits vs. Australia Bonds blog article for more information.

4. UK Guarantor

International students who prefer to pay their student accommodation fees in the UK in instalments are sometimes required to provide a UK guarantor. A guarantor is someone who is responsible for a loan you have taken out or for paying rent if a student can’t or cover any damages to the property. A UK guarantor must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be a resident of the United Kingdom.

  • Aged between 18 and 75.

  • Has a good credit history.

  • Able to cover monthly rent.

The guarantor can be a parent, guardian, relative, or family friend who's employed full-time with a stable financial income so they can cover any required costs.

5. Cooling-Off Period/Cancellation Window

The cooling-off period or the cancellation window is a specific period of time when a student is allowed to cancel their accommodation booking without being responsible for finding a replacement and still gets the deposit payment refunded. This period of time differs according to each accommodation manager.

6. All-Inclusive Bills

Water, gas, electricity bills, internet, and council tax are all examples of utility bills. A building that has all-inclusive bills means you will not be required to pay separately for utilities because they are included in the weekly/monthly rent fee. Laundry, parking, and buildings' services are not considered part of the bills, so they're most probably available for extra charges. Coin-operated laundries are the best example of that. Remember, not all student accommodation options come with air conditioning and/or fans, so ask about this detail if it is a concern of yours. Find out more in our blog What’s All-Inclusive Bills?

7. Contents Insurance

If a student accommodation is offering contents insurance, if any of the contents of the student rooms were damaged and it’s not the students’ fault, the property is responsible for fixing them.

8. Catered/Self-Catered

You will most likely come across the terms catered and self-catered student accommodation. Catered student accommodation means that you receive breakfast and evening meals seven days a week. A self-catered accommodation means you’ll have access to a communal kitchen where you can prepare your own meals.

9. Types of Student Accommodation

1. University-Owned Residence Halls

The term university-owned residence halls, also known as student halls, refers to rooms or flats managed by the university. They are considered convenient for being right on-campus or within close proximity to it. When it comes to the rooms themselves, they are usually within a flat shared with other students, which means you’ll share the kitchen, living room, and bathroom with 4-6 students. University halls are usually the best option for freshmen students because the university arranges all details. Once freshmen are familiar with campus and the city, they usually move on to live in a PBSA. Get to know the Differences Between PBSA and On-campus Accommodation to make an informed decision.

2. Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

Purpose-built student accommodation is a type of private housing that provides apartments or studios and shared living spaces for university students. Most university students prefer to move to a PBSA after freshmen year because university student halls only provide the basics, while PBSAs have a lot more to offer. In a PBSA, you have the option to still share a flat with other students with your own bedroom and en-suite bathroom, or you can choose to have your own one-bedroom apartment or self-contained studio. It doesn’t stop there! PBSAs also offer a wide range of facilities and services that you won’t find in most university halls. Things like super-fast Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, security, communal spaces like an on-site gym, games room, cinema room, as well as study rooms and a social calendar for holidays and themed parties or pizza nights. A PBSA is cheaper than private renting because you usually get all-inclusive bills, so you won’t have to worry about paying any extra fees. 

3. Private House/Flat Share

A private house or flatshare can mean more than one thing; it could refer to renting an apartment to live in by yourself or share with one other student, or it could mean sharing a full house with several other students. It can be confused with co-living so make sure you compare Co-living Vs Shared Housing to learn the difference. This type of student accommodation has the perk of complete privacy if you choose to live alone, with the freedom to pick your own furniture and turn it into your own space. Even if you decide to get a roommate, you’ll have the ability to choose the person yourself, unlike in university student halls. As for house sharing, it’s a much cheaper option than renting alone since expenses will be divided for rent, utilities, and groceries, not to mention it has the perk of getting to live with a group of friends. In both options, you’ll have to deal with the bureaucracies of private renting, which can be inconvenient.

4. Co-Living

If you stumble upon the term co-living during your search for student accommodation, you should know what exactly it refers to. Co-living, also known as purpose-built shared living space (PBSL) means sharing a living space with one or more other individuals who are not necessarily students. You’ll also have access to similar facilities and services as the ones offered in a PBSA. If you’re confused, check out our blog Co-Living and PBSA: Are They The Same? You’ll find that while they are extremely similar, they still have key differences.

10. Types of Student Rooms

In each type of student accommodation, there are various types of rooms you get to choose from. They range from a single room in a shared flat with a shared bathroom, an en-suite room with a shared communal area, to self-contained one-bedroom flats and studios. If you like company, you can also choose to stay with someone in a double or triple room, find out more about this in our Guide to Student Room Types in the UK.

There you have it! Now that you’re armed with a glossary of common terms used in student accommodation, you can start your search with confidence. Remember always to research any term you are not familiar with since it could be significant in determining whether the accommodation is suitable for you or not. 


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