Moving into privately-rented accommodation can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. The Students’ Union advice team provides advice on University-related issues and housing for every Sussex student. If you have a question about an area they don’t cover, they can point you in the right direction to get help. Here are their top tips to keep in mind throughout the renting process.


  • Read your contract and get it checked over by the Student Union Advice Team before signing it.
  • Tenancy contracts are legally binding for their full period unless there is a ‘break clause’ allowing for early termination. This means that you are liable to pay the rent until the end of the contract, so be sure before you sign.
  • Most tenancies in shared accommodation will be ‘joint tenancies’. This means that if one of your housemates fails to contribute their ‘share’ of the rent, the landlord can demand it from the remaining tenants or their guarantors to cover any rent shortfall.

Tenants’ rights:

  • The landlord or agents need to give you 24 hours’ notice if they want to enter your accommodation, unless there is an emergency – for example, an urgent repair issue.
  • The landlord will have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is safe, that you have essential services (water, electricity, etc.), and that the basic structure of the building is in good repair. Report any safety concerns in writing to your landlord or agents.
  • Beware of any fees your landlord may try to charge you – The Tenant Fees Act 2019 imposes strict rules about the type and extent of tenancy fees.
  • If you rent a room in a landlord’s home then your rights will likely be less than tenants with a non-resident landlord. 

Things to do:

  • After you pay your main deposit, check that your landlord or letting agent has registered it with a Government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days to protect your money. The schemes have an adjudication service which may help you if you believe the landlord is asking for an unreasonable deduction from the deposit at the end of your occupation.
  • As a full-time student you will be exempt from council tax, but you still need to complete relevant online forms. If you live in the BN1, BN2, BN3 or BN41 postcodes you can claim for council tax exemption on the Brighton & Hove City Council website.
  • Before you move your things in, take time stamped photos of any pre-existing damage or defects around the property, ensuring the written ‘inventory’ is accurate. 
  • Bills – make sure to take readings of all the relevant metres (gas, electric) and send them to the utility company as soon as possible.

Visit the SU support page for more information on university-related issues or to book an appointment with the Students’ Union advice team. Appointments are available in-person, via video call or by phone.

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