Frequently Asked Questions

Student Advice COVID-19 and Renting FAQs

The COVID-19 outbreak is generating lots of concerns, questions, and issues for many students.  The Advice Centre has seen an increase in queries related to the virus outbreak and how it may impact renting accommodation.

To best support all students, we have created a list of FAQ’s that should answer any questions you may have. If your question has not been answered below and you need further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact the Advice Centre - Advice@uwe.ac.uk.

It is worth noting that the situation changes frequently and there is not a response that fits all scenarios; so you are also advised to check out the official government guidelines as well as the University’s website for information about potential changes to your course.

With such a wide variety of accommodation on offer to students in Bristol including University Halls, private rented accommodation and Homestay accommodation, knowing where and how to start looking can be difficult. The Students' Union at UWE, in conjunction with the UWE Global Centre, have put together this handy guide for all students coming to UWE Bristol to help you feel ready to tackle the rental market head-on.

Currently, the UK Government is advising that anyone travelling to the UK, whether they are an existing resident or moving to the country, must provide details of their journey and contact details.

If you have yet to arrange permanent accommodation, you will need to sort short term accommodation (Hotels, B&Bs etc.) before you travel. The details of this short term accommodation cannot be submitted via the online form (https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/public-health-passenger-locator-form) until 48 hours before you arrive in the UK.

As guidance on this issue is constantly being reviewed, it is advisable to check the official government website a few days before you travel. https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control

Some useful websites to find short term accommodation are:

The University has now published the 2020/21 term dates (https://www.uwe.ac.uk/study/term-dates/2020-21-term-dates) and has also confirmed that teaching will primarily be online led. This has been done to limit the number of students on campus and to ensure that the University follows the government’s social distancing rules.

The University is planning that all students will have face-to-face teaching over the academic year, for small group learning, seminars, tutorials and practice-based learning. Therefore, it is recommended that students should be able to come onto the campus when timetabled to do so, which means arranging accommodation within Bristol is beneficial.

Thankfully Bristol is a large city and is fortunate that it has an excess of accommodation, so even if you haven’t booked accommodation yet or leave it for several months to see how things progress, you are still likely to get something sorted. It just might not be what you had originally intended or with people you had planned to live with. The problem you may face if you chose to delay getting accommodation is landlords may be reluctant to provide tenancies for shorter than 12 months.

If you are looking for accommodation, the best places to start are:

Bristol is a big city, and there are many different areas within the city that each offer their own character and community. Knowing about each of these areas is key when narrowing down your property search, this will help you to you decide where you want to live, or perhaps more importantly, where you don't want to live. Many students prefer to live close to their University campus, but this may not always be the best choice. 

You will need to balance cost, quality and convenience, especially in a large city such as Bristol. Issues to think about include the following:

Where is the accommodation located?

It may be on campus; it may be near your place of study, or it may be some distance away. If it is not on campus, check that the area offers everything you need: for instance shops, friends living nearby, places for meeting friends and socialising, good transport links, parking provision (if needed), but most importantly that it feels like a safe environment.

What are the transport links and what are the costs?

This is particularly important if your accommodation is not on campus or if you can’t reasonably walk (or cycle) to your place of study or to other places that you need or want to get to frequently. In some towns living further out, away from university, shops etc., can save money, as housing may be cheaper. If you are thinking of living further out, try and check that possible extra travel costs do not outweigh your savings on rent.

CITY CENTRE

The city centre is a good place to live if you want shops, bars and clubs on your doorstep. Cabot Circus, St Nicholas Market, the Waterfront and Park Street are all here. Most of the accommodation in the centre is converted office blocks and warehouses, and here you will find many of the larger commercial purpose-built residences. Be aware that parking is very limited so you'll be reliant on other forms of transport to get to campus.

GLOUCESTER ROAD

Gloucester Road is one of the most popular areas for students to live because of its vast array of shops, bars and cafes; in fact, it has the largest number of independent traders on any one road in the UK!  You'll find lots of student houses and flats available to rent here and in its surrounding areas.

BISHOPSTON and ST ANDREWS

Bishopston and St. Andrews are popular student areas due to their proximity to the city centre and walking distance to the popular Gloucester Road. The number 70 bus also services these areas making it easy to get to the Frenchay campus. There are a lot of large Victorian houses giving students in bigger groups plenty of housing options.

HORFIELD

Another popular student area off of Gloucester Road, Horfield is further away from the city, but close to Frenchay Campus. A very residential area with lots of accommodation options for students and you’ll be able to park here too.

MONTPELIER, ST PAUL’S and STOKES CROFT

These areas have a growing student population and are all walking distance to Gloucester Road and the city centre. They are more multi-cultural than some of the other areas mentioned above, with a reputation for being edgy and alternative. Stokes Croft is the heart of Bristol’s graffiti art and music scene.

REDLAND, KINGSDOWN and COTHAM

These areas are on the opposite side of Gloucester Road and equally popular with students. Living here you'll also have the benefit of being within walking distance to Whiteladies Road, another busy main road with shops, bars and cafes aplenty.

FISHPONDS

A largely residential area in Bristol, popular for students studying at Glenside and Frenchay. The main Fishponds Road has a mix of pubs, shops and cafes, although not as trendy as the Gloucester Road.

FILTON

Popular for students because of its proximity to the Frenchay campus, but if you are looking for the hustle and bustle of Bristol you’ll have to travel a little further towards the city centre.

STOKE PARK, FRENCHAY and Cheswick Village

All of these areas are close to the Frenchay Campus, but bars, shops and cafes are few and far between, as they are very residential.

BEDMINSTER/SOUTHVILLE

These areas are increasingly popular with Bower Ashton students. North Street, a few minutes’ walk from the campus, is home to the Tobacco Factory Theatre, the Hen and Chicken comedy venue and a range of coffee shops and restaurants. Bedminster Parade is also a thriving street of independent traders.

TOTTERDOWN/WINDMILL HILL

On top of the town, as their names suggest, these Victorian terraced streets may be more economical than Bedminster or Southville but are still close to Bower Ashton, especially by bike. Some Totterdown streets are amongst the steepest in the country!

TEMPLE MEADS/ST PHILIPS MARSH

Accommodation around Bristol Temple Meads train station has a definite inner-city feel and puts you bang in the centre of things. It is close to Broadmead and is a short bus ride to Bower Ashton.

HOTWELLS/CLIFTON

Close to the Clifton Downs, the Suspension Bridge and historic Clifton Village, these areas are great for walking and cycle rides and it’s a short run/bike ride down the hill to the centre. Close to Bower Ashton Campus as the crow flies, but can be one of the more expensive areas to live.

 

MILES FROM CAMPUS

   

LOCATION

FRENCHAY

GLENSIDE

BOWER ASHTON

       

CITY CENTRE

6

6

3.5

       

GLOUCESTER ROAD

4

4

4.5

       

BISHOPSTON & ST ANDREWS

4

4

4.5

       

HORFIELD

3.5

4

5.5

       

MONTPELIER, ST PAUL’S & STOKES CROFT

6

3.5

3.5

       

REDLAND, KINGSDOWN & COTHAM

6

4

3

       

FISHPONDS

1

0.5

6.5

       

FILTON

2.5

4.5

7

       

STOKE PARK, FRENCHAY & CHESWICK VILLAGE

0.5

1

8.5

       

BEDMINSTER/SOUTHVILLE

8

6

0.5

       

TOTTERDOWN/WINDMILL HILL

5

5

3

       

TEMPLE MEADS/ST PHILIPS MARSH

7

4

3

       

HOTWELLS/CLIFTON

6

6

2

Bus routes to each campus can be found at https://journeyplanner.travelwest.info/directions

UWE Bristol has benefited enormously from the recent investment in largely traffic free cycle routes that criss-cross the city. If you are interested in cycling into campus, the Students’ Union does offer a bike loan scheme which will allow you to hire a bike to use for the year. Further details can be found at https://www.thestudentsunion.co.uk/commercial-services/bike-loan-scheme/ and cycle routes to each campus can be found below.

  • Frenchay Campus cycle routes on Google Maps
  • Glenside Campus cycle routes on Google Maps
  • City Campus cycle routes on Google Maps

In normal circumstances, we would always advise you to do a property viewing in person before making any commitment. However, practically this is going to be a lot more difficult, especially for groups of students wanting to live together.

Only those in your household should attend and consider if you all need to be there. If you are moving in with people outside of your current household, which is normal, you may wish to decide if you want to nominate particular individuals to do viewings and for them to do these separately.

The Advice Centre would suggest: 

  • Viewings should be done virtually wherever possible. Any physical viewing should only be requested if you are seriously considering taking the property.   
  • If you or any other member of the proposed household are showing symptoms or are self-isolating, physical viewings should not be conducted, to help limit the chance of potentially infecting others.
  • All physical viewings should be limited in numbers to allow for social distancing and should be limited to the same household.
  • If physically viewing a property, avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly and take hand sanitizer.

If the property you are currently living in is due to be viewed by potential new tenants, the following steps should be taken:

  • If any member of the household being viewed is showing symptoms of Coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed.
  • Discuss with the letting agent/landlord how many viewings of the property are given within a certain period to reduce risk.
  • Ensure the person conducting the viewing has informed anyone coming into the house of what to do.
  • Where possible vacate the property whilst viewings are taking place to minimise contact with those not in your household. If you cannot vacate, make sure you social distance in line with public health advice. 
  • Limit the risk of the virus potentially spreading via surfaces by opening all internal doors and ensuring surfaces such as door handles are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products. 
  • Open windows to improve ventilation.

If you have viewed a property and paid a holding deposit but are yet to sign a tenancy agreement, you can still change your mind about renting the property, however, you may be at risk of losing the deposit regardless of whether the property is re-let. It is advisable to check any paperwork you have and speak to the landlord/agent to see what the position is.

The decision to sign a tenancy agreement depends entirely on your circumstances. As the document is legally binding, the Advice Centre would recommend you think very carefully before signing it. It would be advisable to discuss with the landlord/letting agents the terms of the contract. We would advise discussing potential break clauses that may allow you to change your contract start date and also the possibly or being able to cancel should you not be able to move in. However, these are not something you can demand and are entirely at the landlords/letting agents’ discretion.

The Advice Centre is available to check any tenancy agreements before you sign them, should you have any concerns.

Most landlords now require students (and particularly international students) to provide details of a UK based guarantor before they sign the tenancy agreement as a condition of the housing contract. The guarantor is a third-party individual or organisation who guarantees to pay the landlord any rent which the student fails to pay and the cost of any damage for which the student is responsible and fails to pay for.

If you cannot provide one, you may be required to pay most, if not all of, the rent for the full contract before you move in. This is a considerable financial challenge for many students.

If you do need a guarantor and you can find one, you must check that your guarantor's financial liability is limited to just your rent/damages. It is becoming increasingly common that landlords will state that the guarantors' responsibility to pay rent/costs etc. extends to all tenants in the accommodation. This means that even if you pay your rent on time, the landlord can still ask your guarantor to cover any rent not paid by another tenant. They will usually pursue the other tenant’s guarantor first but if they fail to pay the landlord can ask the other tenants’ guarantors to cover the cost.

International and EU students usually struggle more to find a UK based guarantor. To overcome this problem UWE Bristol has partnered with YourGuarantor; a reputable company authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will provide an affordable and safe service by acting as a guarantor.

For more information, please click the link:

https://www1.uwe.ac.uk/students/accommodation/privateaccommodation/contractsandnegotiations/yourguarantor.aspx

For students that are unable to secure a guarantor via family or work, there are reputable companies available that will provide this service for a fee. These companies are:

Before moving into a property, tenants are required to pay a security deposit that can be used by a landlord/letting agent to cover costs such as rent arrears or damage to the property. From 1t June 2019, the maximum tenancy deposit is equal to five weeks’ rent.

Once your deposit has been paid to the landlord/letting agent, it must be put in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. The tenant must also be informed which scheme has been used within 30 days of the landlord/letting agent receiving the deposit.

In England and Wales deposits can be registered with:

Tenants can check that the deposit has been protected correctly by accessing these websites and providing the following details - postcode, surname, tenancy start date and deposit amount.

Once a tenancy has come to an end, the landlord/letting agent may agree to return your deposit in full or they may make deductions that you accept. If you agree with the deductions suggested, then the remaining deposit should be returned to you within 10 working days.

If you don’t agree with your suggested deductions, you are entitled to negotiate with them to reach an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached amicably then you can challenge the suggested deductions through the scheme’s deposit resolution service. You can't use this dispute resolution service unless your landlord/letting agent agrees to this.

You should tell your landlord/letting agent your plan to use the service. They may try and solve the situation before the formal process goes ahead. If they don't agree to the using the resolution service, you may need to consider applying to the small claims court. The Advice Centre can offer guidance and may suggest seeking legal advice via our working relationship with the University of Bristol Law Clinic.

From 1 February 2016 all landlords in England are required to check their tenants' immigration status before granting a tenancy agreement, to make sure that the tenant has a 'right to rent'.  You have a right to rent if:

  • You have current immigration permission to be in the UK, for example a Tier 4 visa or a Short-Term Student visa; or
  • You are an EEA/Swiss national; or
  • You have the right to be in the UK under EEA law (for example because you are the family member of an EEA/Swiss national); or
  • You do not have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but you have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government (this only applies in exceptional circumstances).

Landlords have a duty not to discriminate against tenants on the grounds of their race or nationality. Right to rent checks for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members will continue to be conducted in the same way until 1 January 2021 when a new immigration system will be put in place.

When you are living in private accommodation there are additional costs, other than rent and deposits, that you will need to budget for.

These include:

Gas and Electric – When living in private accommodation, the tenant is responsible for paying the electricity and gas charges. Make sure you provide the providers of these services with meter readings at the beginning and end of your tenancy to avoid being overcharged.

Water and Sewage – whilst most landlords take responsibility for this, it’s worth double-checking your agreement to make sure.

Council Tax – Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax as long as you provide the local authority with a copy of your exemption certificate. These are available via the Information Point and MyUWE.

TV License – A standard TV License costs £157.50. It's a criminal offence to watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer unless you have a valid TV licence. Without one, you risk prosecution and can be issued a fine of up to £1,000, plus court costs. You still need a licence even if you don't own a television and only watch TV on a phone, tablet or computer. You do not need a TV Licence if you only ever use services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Now TV to watch on-demand or catch up programmes.

Internet, Landline Phone and Cable TV – If you want internet or cable TV in your new accommodation, you must first check with the landlord that they are happy with this being installed.

Contents Insurance – When living in private accommodation you will need to take out personal contents insurance designed to cover the sort of stuff students own, like your gadgets, books, clothes and bicycle. The policy will pay out if the unexpected happens and your possessions are lost in events like a fire, theft, flood or storm.

Landlords insurance only covers their house and their items of furniture. It does not cover any of the tenant’s property. You can research quotes for insurance through comparison websites such as:

If you need help to manage your money and create a budget; Blackbullion is an easy to use learning platform designed to help you develop essential money skills, and it’s FREE for UWE students.

Check with your letting agent/landlord whether an inventory check-in/out list can be completed during a vacant period before/after your tenancy begins/ends. Your letting agent/landlord should be able to send a copy of all documents to the incoming/outgoing tenants for comment along with supporting dated photographs/documentary evidence. This process mustn't be forgotten as deposits could be at risk if there are disputes about damage to furniture etc.

In short, no. If you pose a direct risk of transmitting Coronavirus you should not move. People who have Coronavirus or are self-isolating with their family members should not leave their homes to either move home or undertake property viewings.

Students who are shielding or otherwise clinically vulnerable should ensure they are aware of the most current medical advice, including staying at home and avoiding unnecessary contact over this period if at all possible.

The best advice is to discuss with the letting agent/landlord your situation as they may be able to implement additional precautionary measures to further protect you and others; including potentially amending moving in dates/contract dates if possible.

If the dates are not able to be changed then the contract might have to begin without you moving in and you will still be liable for the rent.

As a tenant, you have certain responsibilities regarding repairs and conditions in your rented accommodation. These include:

  • Keeping your home reasonably clean
  • Safety checks on electrical appliances you own
  • Keeping gardens or outside areas in a reasonable state
  • Minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs or smoke alarm batteries
  • Fixing appliances or furniture you own
  • Damage caused by you, your family or your guests
  • Any minor repairs set out in your tenancy agreement

 

You only need to maintain your home to a reasonable level. You don't have to leave it in a better condition than when you moved in and you are not responsible for normal wear and tear.

Your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home. This applies to private landlords, councils and housing associations. Their responsibilities include repairs to:

  • Electrical wiring
  • Gas pipes and boilers
  • Heating and hot water
  • Chimneys and ventilation
  • Sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • Common areas including entrance halls and stairways
  • The structure and exterior of the building, including walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows

Your landlord is always responsible for these repairs even if your tenancy agreement says something different. If you have reported a problem to your landlord, they must carry out a repair within a reasonable period.

For further guidance please contact the Advice Centre – Advice@uwe.ac.uk  

If you've decided that it is more convenient to do your food shopping online, especially during the current Coronavirus outbreak or if you have to self-isolate there are many different suppliers in Bristol that you can choose from.

There are a few things to consider when doing this, such as:

  • Will the provider do same-day delivery?
  • What range of items can you get?
  • Which supplier is best suited to your budget?

The top suppliers are listed below:

An overview of each service can be found at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/best-online-grocery-shopping-sites-one-delivers-goods/

You also might find it useful to pre order a kitchen, bedding, cleaning, bathroom starter packs. This option is available for all students both living in university managed and private accommodation. Here is a link to book the pack you might need. We also encourage you to ask your flatmates, friends and family for support. More information about support and services on the campus will be provided closer to the date.

Unfortunately, many students have lost their part-time jobs/sources of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bad news is that you remain liable for all rent/costs unless you have been allowed to surrender your tenancy. 

The first thing to do is to contact your landlord/letting agent to explain the situation. Most will be sympathetic, especially if you and/or the person who assists you with paying the rent has lost that source of income due to the Coronavirus situation. They may agree to a rent reduction for a period or to accept rent at a later date (known as a payment holiday). They might even consider reducing the tenancy term if they won’t release you.

However, if you agree to delay your rent payment the full rent will still be due at a later date. Repayable rent reductions are where rent is reduced for a period but the overall amount will still be due just at a later date by mutual agreement. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, including living costs as a result of the current disruption, you may be eligible for support from the University’s Student Money Service. Further details can be found at https://www.uwe.ac.uk/life/money-and-finance/student-money-service.

No. The deposit cannot be released until the tenancy ends unless your landlord has agreed to a mutual surrender of the tenancy.  If the landlord/letting agent does not agree to surrender the tenancy, then the deposit must remain protected by the deposit protection scheme and cannot be used as payment of rent or rent arrears.

Under recent legislation (The Coronavirus Act 2020) the Government has put measures in place to ensure tenants and some licensees in privately rented accommodation must be given a minimum of three months’ notice before eviction.

If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, your landlord can only evict you with an order from the court and notice that they plan to regain possession of the property. This would be either a Section 8 or Section 21 notice.

If your landlord has already issued you with notice, they will not be able to evict you for a further three months.

Unfortunately, this will not apply to lodgers of live-in landlords as they can evict you without a court order, however, it is still a criminal offence to evict you by force or intimidation. You would still be legally entitled to reasonable notice unless it is at the end of your fixed term.

Further information is available on the government website. https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Unless a surrender/termination of the tenancy has been expressly agreed with your letting agent/landlord then the contract continues along with all of your responsibilities and liabilities. Each situation is unique so it’s not advisable to compare your housing situation to other students.

We hope this information will help you when renting in Bristol, if you need my further advice, we are available via email between 10:00-16:00 Monday to Friday.

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