House hunting guide
For student house-hunters, Portsmouth offers plenty of great places to live – from the beautiful seafront to the buzzing city centre and beyond. It's a compact island city that only takes an hour to cross on foot or 20 minutes by bike, so exploring is easy too.
Your budget, how far you want to commute and your interests play a big role when house-hunting, but wherever you choose, you'll be close to everything you need. Ready to start searching? Here's a handy guide of things to consider.
Where to live in Portsmouth
The central areas of Southsea and Fratton are the most popular locations for students. They're home to much of the city's best nightlife, restaurants and culture, and the University is a short walk away. and it offers a good mixture of student houses, converted flats, lodgings and studios. Rents in these areas are reasonably priced and you should expect to pay, on average, £80 to £100 per person, per week.
To the east and north of Portsmouth are Eastney, Milton, North End and Hilsea. They're slightly quieter than the city centre, but they've got everything you could need, and they offer great transport links into the city too.
Outside the city
In the north of the city, you'll find the residential areas Drayton, Farlington, Cosham, Fareham and Gosport. There are great bike, bus and train connections between the first three locations, and again, each has every local amenity you need.
Gosport is across the water to west, but you can catch a 5-minute ferry to Gunwharf Quays – which is a short walk or bike ride from the campus. You can take your bike on board for the journey. From Fareham, there's a regular direct train to Portsmouth that takes about 20 minutes. In all these places, you'll find good value residential accommodation that's particularly suited to students who are moving with a family.
Choosing who to live with
Before the serious business of house hunting begins, you need to pick your housemates. When you’re doing that, consider the following:
- How many housemates? Competition for larger houses can be fierce. And more people can equal more mess, more noise and more difficulty getting everyone to pay their bills and do their share of the housework. You might prefer to live in a smaller group instead.
- Who do you want to live with? It’s a good idea to live with friends whose lifestyle choices match yours. If you’re a chilled-out person on a tight budget who likes things neat and tidy, consider not living with your messy friend with an unlimited budget, who’s the life and soul of every party.
- Thinking of living on your own? You can always search for studio accommodation or smaller flats, but it can be very expensive, and affordable places are hard to come by.
- How do I find people to live with? If you need to find some housemates, the Student Housing team can help you find other first-year students who are also ready to go house-hunting – for example, on their Facebook page, the StudentPad message board, or at one of their house-hunting events.
Finding the right house for you
Once you’ve decided where you want to live and who you want to share a house with, you need to find the right house for you. Here are some important things to think about when searching for a place to live on Studentpad:
- Decide on the type of property – Agreeing on whether to house or flat-hunt will make the process a lot easier. There are pluses and minuses to living in a house or a flat, so decide among your group which sort of property is best for everyone.
- What are your 'must-haves'? – Agree with your housemates on the essential things your new home needs: whether that's bicycle storage, a garden or a quiet location.
- Make a list of 'nice-to-haves' – Agree on the things that'll turn a 'maybe' house into the one for you, like double beds in every room, or a TV installed in the living room.
- How much can you afford? – Agree your budget early, so everyone is comfortable with the amount they'll pay in deposit, rent and bills. For more information on budgeting and finances, you can always contact the Student Finance team.
Once you've found a few properties you like, the next step is to arrange viewings. When you view any property, look out for these three important things:
- Condition – Properties should be clean, in a good state of repair, with furniture in good condition. Remember that ‘fair wear and tear’ is allowed, so your house might not be pristine – but everything should be in excellent working order, from your water and heating to your electricity and kitchen appliances.
- Safety – Are the sockets safe? Are there working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms? Does the boiler have an up-to-date safety certificate? Is there any damp or mould in the house? There's plenty to think about, so don't be afraid to ask – and check – that everything is safe in your prospective new home.
- Security – Are the windows and your front door secure and lockable? If you need somewhere to store your bike, is it suitable? Your new home is where you'll keep plenty of important stuff – so check that it's secure enough for you.
Private renting jargon
If you're new to the world of private renting, you'll encounter words and phrases that you probably haven't heard before. Our glossary can guide you through the common terms.
This relates to late rent payment or failure to pay rent on the specified date agreed in your tenancy agreement.
ASTs are one of the most common tenancy types in the private rented sector. ASTs apply to a property for which you pay rent, have exclusive possession to all common areas in the house, such as the kitchen, and the landlord does not reside in the property.
This relates to a term often used in tenancy agreements, which allows both parties to end a tenancy before its due date. Although this is beneficial to the tenant, it must be agreed by the landlord. But they are uncommon in student contracts.
Properties occupied by full time students are council tax exempt. If you're a part time student, you'll be liable for paying Council Tax but on a reduced rate. If you're in a house where most of you are students and one person is either part time or not studying at all, you'll all become liable for paying council tax due to this person living in the house. Further information can be found from Portsmouth City Council.
This can be defined as ‘the condition of being in need of repair’. As a tenant, you have the right to have your accommodation kept in a reasonable state of repair. You also have an obligation to look after the accommodation. The tenancy agreement may give details of both your and your landlord’s responsibilities in carrying out repairs, so you should check this.
This is a complex area relating to housing law where a landlord must request through the courts to have an order directing a tenant to leave the landlord’s premises. There are specific procedures that a landlord must follow before a tenant can be evicted. Trying to illegally evict someone is protected by law under the Prevention of Eviction Act 1977. For further advice if you feel you are under the threat of eviction, please come into the office and speak to one of the Student Housing Officers straight away.
This clause is often in place in most tenancy agreements to protect the tenant and make allowances for the original age, quality and condition of any item at the start of the tenancy, the average lifespan of the item, the number and type of occupants in the property and the length of the tenants’ occupancy. A good example would be faded paintwork, slight markings from furniture or a well-used oven. A good inventory will note the condition of fixtures and furnishings before a tenant moves into a property.
The majority of student agreements will be for a fixed term, from a (legal) minimum of six months up to 12 months. Once you've signed a fixed term agreement, you're obliged to pay rent to the landlord for the duration of the tenancy. Likewise, the landlord is bound by the fixed term on the contract. Some fixed term contracts will state a ‘minimum fixed term’. In such cases, it's advisable that you give your landlord at least one month’s written notice (or however much is stated in your agreement) prior to the end of the fixed term. Failure to give adequate notice can result in the landlord holding you responsible for a further month’s rent (or until sufficient notice has been received). If you're happy to stay at the property, there may be a clause in the contract which states that once the fixed term has passed you will then be on a ‘statutory periodic tenancy’ i.e. rolling the tenancy on a month by month basis until either the tenant or landlord gives notice to quit.
Quite literally, guarantees rent payments and other tenancy obligations on a rental property. It's standard practice for landlords to ask for a UK based guarantor for student tenants. It's normally a parent or a guardian of the tenant who takes on this responsibility. If you can't get a UK based guarantor, you may be asked to pay sets of rent in advance, for example, three to four months’ rent as a guarantee that the rent will be paid.
This is a classification of houses which have three or more bedrooms and all occupants are unrelated, i.e. student sharers. In August 2013, an additional licensing scheme was introduced within the PO1, PO4 and PO5 areas in Portsmouth, which means that smaller HMOs with three or more tenants belonging to two or more households also require a licence. These properties are required to be licensed by Portsmouth City Council and are subjected to checks by the council following the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) before a licence is granted.
This is a detailed list produced by the landlord that states the items in the property and their present condition. This includes furniture, fixtures and fittings in the property from doors and windows, to carpets and walls – ideally right down to the number of picture hooks on a wall.
When a group of tenants sign a joint contract (all tenants sign one contract rather than separate ones each), they (and their guarantors) are all equally responsible for the total amount of rent payable to the landlord (not just their share) and for the condition of the property. For example, all must contribute towards any repairs/ replacements required to items in the property once the tenancy ends and during the period of occupation.
A lodger is a person who rents a room in a private house from a landlord/lady who resides on the premises OR a family member of the property owner who resides there and shares the communal facilities. You generally will not sign a contract, maybe just a lodger’s agreement or a set of house rules. Lodgings agreements are generally very flexible, as you do not have a fixed term agreement, though please note, lodgers are not protected by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Your deposit is also not protected in one of the protection schemes, as you will not have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
This is the amount of time that your landlord gives you OR that you give before ending a tenancy. Landlords normally have to give two months’ notice and tenants one month, but this can vary depending on what's in your contract.
A resident landlord is classed as the property owner or a relative of the property owner, who lives in the same property as the person they are renting to.
The tenancy agreement is a form of consumer contract and, as such, it must be in plain language, which is clear and easy to understand. It must not contain any terms which could be ‘unfair’, e.g. the tenancy agreement must not put you or your landlord in a disadvantageous position, enable one party to change terms permanently and bind you to terms that you have had no time to become familiar with. An unfair term is not valid in law and cannot be enforced.