Private student accommodation: what are the pros and cons?

When it comes to choosing university accommodation students now have a wider set of accommodation options than ever before.

Newcastle has the highest rate of student housing in the country (alongside Exeter) with 1 in 15 properties now classified as a student property. With so many options it can be a little overwhelming. We’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons of private student accommodation – it might make the decision a little easier!

What is private student accommodation?

Private student accommodation (or private halls) tend to vary, but typically encompass purpose-built buildings in which students can rent rooms within shared flats. This is different to student housing: you can also rent a room within a house from a landlord, usually through a letting agent. Private accommodation also differs from University operated sites, and Universities should provide you with information about both University and privately-operated options. For more information about the different types of student accommodation, check out the NUS website.

What are the pros?

♦ If you’re a social butterfly, living in private student accommodation could be the choice for you. Private student accommodations usually have a social room where you and other residents can hang out together.

♦ For parents concerned about safety and security, it’s good to bear in mind that unlike private housing, private student accommodations are often staffed – this means you would benefit from an onsite staff presence 24/7.

♦ Private student accommodation generally offers great value for money. Often you will be expected to pay agency fees on top of a deposit when renting a room from a private landlord through a letting agent; the national average fee is a whopping £208. Generally, when booking with a private accommodation, no upfront fees are expected – at Portland Green Student Village you can book a room with all bills included by just putting a deposit down. Keep your eyes peeled for incredible cashback booking offers to sweeten the deal!

♦ A quick search on the forums in The Student Room will turn up plenty of horror stories of rogue landlords and neglected student housing maintenance issues. Rather than being reliant on your landlord to fix problems and sometimes waiting weeks for work to be actioned, live in private accommodation – alert staff of any issues and the onsite maintenance will get to work immediately!

What are the cons?

♦ In some university operated halls residents don’t get a choice in who they will be living in when they book. For some it can be pot luck who they eventually end up living with, and there isn’t always a guarantee you will live with you friends if booking as a group. Fortunately, in recent years private student halls allow students to select their own room, giving them a bit more control over who you’re going to be living with.

♦ While areas in which student housing is prevalent can be just as rowdy during the evening, the noise levels in private student accommodation might be an issue if you are a light sleeper. Usually this is simply due to the accommodation building being typically closer to the campus, and therefore getting a fair bit of footfall during the night. Of course, friendly onsite staff will always try and resolve issues where they arise so at least you can rest easy knowing that a member of security is on the case.

♦ In some accommodations you might find you lose some of the independence you would otherwise have in private student housing. For many students, a stint living in housing serves as a trial run of living out before the real thing. On the one hand, you might lose out on valuable experience of managing bills together with your flatmates. On the other hand, can you turn down rent with all bills included?

Which? University guide to private halls

Which? University guide to private accommodation

Citizens Advice guides to student housing