Housing Costs: What to Expect When House-Hunting

In celebration of Housing Week here at the Students’ Union, today we’ll be going through some of the costs that come with searching and signing for a house so that you know what to expect when you start house-hunting!

housing week 2022

In celebration of Housing Week here at the Students’ Union, today we’ll be going through some of the costs that come when searching and signing for a house so that you know what to expect when you start house-hunting!

As a student, you may have access to different sources of income, but it's always best to monitor how you are using it. You can book an appointment with the Advice Centre to help you budget for the year ahead, especially when you're considering signing up for a new house.

Often, students use their last loan payment to help fund deposits and fees when signing. While this is useful, don’t forget that you may have other costs at this time.

WHAT COSTS SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY?

  • Security deposit (which will be a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent, approximately £400-600 in Egham).
  • First month’s rent in advance with a UK guarantor (3-6 months’ rent in advance for students without UK guarantors).
  • You could also be asked for a holding fee (maximum 1 week’s rent; refundable unless you cancel) to stop advertising the property. We strongly recommend against paying a holding fee before using our free contract-checking service – you simply have to email it to advice@su.rhul.ac.uk with the subject ‘contract check request’.

What if I don’t have a guarantor?

If you don’t have a guarantor, please look at the following companies and make an enquiry/application:

The above companies will act as your guarantor if you proceed with them. They do charge a fee for this service.

If you are unable to afford the fee that these companies require, you are able to apply to the University’s Study Support Grant to reimburse these costs to you.

You’ll be required to confirm that you are unable to secure a guarantor for this academic year. You will also need proof of payment for the arrangement fee so that you can be reimbursed for these costs.

You can check your eligibility by contacting Financial Wellbeing at moneymatters@royalholloway.ac.uk

HOW MUCH SHOULD RENT COST?

  • Single room in a house-share: £300-500 per person per month
  • Double room in a house-share: £400-600 per person per month
  • En-suite room in a house-share: £600-800 per person per month

*The above prices are not based on luxury properties. These estimates are accurate at the time of writing (November 2022).

The Tenant Fees Bill passed on 1 June 2019 stops landlords and letting agents from charging most fees that were considered standard fees before. See the government guidance for tenants.

When working out how much rent you can afford, you’ll need to think about the other regular costs you will have during your tenancy. 

Due to the ongoing energy crisis, you will need to set aside more money in your budget for the cost of bills. We’ve taken a look at the average household energy bills and factored in the recent price hikes to give you an idea of how much you should budget for:

  • Gas and electricity - £40-50 per person per month in a shared household
  • Water - around £10 per person per month in a shared household
  • Council tax - £0 for full-time students
  • Broadband - around £5 per person per month in a shared household

NB. The cost of bills is unpredictable and variable at the moment - these figures are calculations based on what average household bills look like currently, intended to give you a rough idea of what to expect. Your actual bills may end up being more or less than these figures, depending on your supplier and the state of the energy market. 

FUNDING YOUR DEPOSIT

Some of the sources you can use are:

  • Borrowing money from family/friends
  • Student accounts/overdrafts/loans – get further advice from Financial Wellbeing
  • Some agencies offer a “zero deposit” option which may be more affordable, where you pay a monthly fee in place of an up-front deposit. However, some of these schemes can work out to be much more expensive in the long run and don’t offer you the same protection as a traditional deposit, so make sure to look through the terms and conditions carefully and contact us for advice if needed.

HOW CAN I FIND CHEAPER RENT?

Be flexible about:

  • Location. E.g. Englefield Green is usually cheaper than Egham and definitely cheaper than London.
  • Who you live with. If you’re willing to split up your group, then you’ll have more options and can wait longer. There are always lots of spare rooms advertised on RHSUHouseMating throughout the academic year and holidays.
  • Timing. The longer you wait, the more deals you’ll find as landlords scramble to fill their rooms before term starts. However, waiting longer will mean less choice in property sizes.

Remember, you can ALWAYS try to negotiate. The later it is in the academic year, the more negotiating power you will have. Feel free to get in touch to discuss housing and ask us for negotiating tips.

HOUSING WEEK

Stay in the know with the latest news and advice on our Housing Week campaign hub. You'll find tons of useful information to help you with the entire housing process!

More questions?

Email us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk with a summary of your issue and an advisor will be in touch with some guidance. They will invite you to book an appointment or attend a drop-in if necessary. 

The Advice Centre is a free, independent and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.