International Student Advisory Service

Choosing accommodation

When you are choosing accommodation there are lots of things to consider, including legal issues, costs and comfort.

Renting

Tenancy agreement / contract

A tenancy agreement is the contract you and your landlord. Two copies of the contract should be signed and you should keep one.

You should read carefully, understand and agree with the contract before you sign it. The Advice Place can help you understand your tenancy agreement.

Security deposit

A security deposit is a sum of money you pay to the landlord at the begining of a tenancy agreement. It is used to cover any damage to the property or if the rent is not paid.

When your tenancy agreement ends your security deposit will be returned to you. Any cost of damages or outstanding rent will be subtracted.

To protect yourself and your deposit, you should have a full inventory of the items within the property, and their condition before moving in. You and the landlord should sign this inventory and keep a copy.

Landlords lodge deposits with Mydeposits Scotland scheme. The scheme ensures that the money is kept in a safe bank account until the end of the tenancy.

Guarantor

A guarantor is a person who agrees to be liable in case of non-payment of your rent - some rental agencies may require you to nominate one. Often, guarantors are required to be UK-based. If this is not possible, you may be asked to pay a few months’ rent in advance instead, as additional security for the landlord or rental agency against non-payment of rent.

University of Edinburgh Rent Guarantor Scheme

To assist students, the University of Edinburgh offers a Rent Guarantor Scheme. The scheme offers support for up to 100 students per year and although not open to applications from first, final and part time students, continuing international students are welcome to apply.

Rent Guarantor Scheme

Comfort

You should make sure that your accommodation will be warm and dry.

Double glazing

Double glazing means the windows have two well sealed plates of glass. This keeps housing warm and dry and can save you money on heating costs.

You should check that your accommodation is well insulated.

Heating

A home with an efficient central heating system and good insulation will keep you warm and comfortable over cold winter months. This can help you avoid illness and will reduce the cost of your heating bills.

Gas fired central heating (GFCH)

Gas is supplied through mains pipes. Gas central heating is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than electric heating.

Electric heating

Electric heating is not usually as efficient as gas. It often takes longer to heat your home and can be more expensive.

Oil fired central heating

Oil heating runs from a tank which needs to be filled up. It can be effective, but you must ensure the oil tank does not run out. Oil is normally used in houses, and is less common in central Edinburgh.

White meter heating

This is electric heating which only works at night, when electricity rates are cheaper. It will normally heat enough water for the next day, depending on how much you use. You might find that it can become cold during the day

Safety

You should consider safety when searching for or viewing accommodation.

  • Is the area safe? Edinburgh is a very safe city, but you should check that you feel safe in the area.
  • Is the building secure? Check that the building has a safe entry system like an intercom. Ensure that the locks on doors and windows are reliable.
  • Are fire safety measures in place? Check that there is a good fire escape route and that smoke alarms are fitted.

Other costs

You should budget for all possible costs when choosing your accommodation. You will have to pay for utilities and bills on top of the cost of your rent.