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Private renting advice for international students

Many of our international students will chose to live away from our on campus based halls of residence and the below details general advice on finding the right property for you

Living in halls of residence v living in private property

There are many reasons why you may choose to live in private property as opposed to in Royal Holloway's halls of residence and it's important to have considered all the pros and cons before signing up to a tenancy agreement. 

Probably the most important factor for any student when selecting their accommodation is the cost. Paying rent is likely to be your single largest cost of living while you study so you'll want to ensure that you've made a budget for the year and you're renting a property you can afford. Contact our Financial Wellbeing team for help with creating a budget. 

Of course it's not just rent itself that is the only cost associated with where you choose to live, you'll need to consider the cost of utilities and transport if you aren't living within walking distance of either of our campuses. 

The cost of Royal Holloway's halls of residence is inclusive of gas, electricity and broadband internet so you won't need to factor that into your budget but renting via a private landlord usually means that you need to pay the cost of these in addtion to the rent. 

Using public transport can be expensive in the UK compared to many parts of the world so if you aren't planning to live close to either our Egham or central London campus you'll need to consider the costs associated with your commute which could be considerable if you are required to be on campus most days. 

For information and advice about how to make the most of your money while in the UK, see our Costs of Living pages


The impact of commuting on your studies

The University has looked at data across several years and has found a clear correlation between the distance that students travel and their academic progression. 

To put it in simple terms, the data shows that the further you live from campus, the greater the chance of you failing to make academic progress. 

As such, we strongly advise that all students live within 30 minutes commute of the campus on which they are studying. 

Any student living more than 60 minutes commute from the campus on which they are studying may be challenged during enrolment as to how they plan to engage effectively with their course. 


Finding the perfect place to live off campus

To help with the above considerations, we've developed a tool that will allow you to establish the following when looking for a place to live 

- How long it will take you to travel using public transport from an area to one of our campuses

- How much it will cost you to use public transport from an area to one of our campuses 

- The average cost of rent in a specific area 

- The likely impact on your academic progression of that commute 


For the final point, we use a traffic light system to indicate this 

Green = within 30 minutes of the campus, minimal impact on academic progression 

Amber = within 31 to 60 minutes of the campus, some impact on academic progression 

Red = 61 or more minutes to the campus, significant impact on academic progression




How to use the tool above? 

If for any reason the above imagine doesn't load, please click here to load the tool

Step 1 - select the campus in which you will be studying 

Step 2 - if you're not sure about the areas to begin searching for a property in, then we suggest beginning by changing the 'Impact on academic progression' option to 'green' 

Step 3 - hit 'search' 

You will now have a list of all areas within 30 minutes travel via public transport of your campus. These would be great areas to begin looking for accommodation (see below for places to finding accommodation). 

If you already have an area in mind to live in, then you can type in the name of the village/town/London borough or you can input the first part of the postcode or you can add the name of the nearest train station. 

If the area is not listed on our tool it's likely because it's too far away and should therefore not be a place you should be considering looking for property in. 



The above is an example of the information that the tool will provide, in this example for a student studying at our Egham campus who is looking for a property in Hounslow. As you can see, there are multiple stations in the area so the exact time, cost and impact on academic progression will depend on how close an individual lives to one of those stations. 

The information on our tool is derived via a number of sources, including

Transport for London 

University of London Housing Guide


Other useful information for international students


Where to find accommodation

There are lots of places to look for private accommodation and we won't list all the lettings agents on this page although you can check the list here for options across the UK. 

Some of the more popular student focused services can be found below. 


Living near Egham campus

Students on the Green

The Garage

IQ The Pad


Living in London

University of London Housing Services

London Student Pad



Living anywhere in the UK

Student Pad

Spare Room


Right Move

On the Market

Gum Tree 


Most landlords and letting agents in the UK run an excellent service but occassionally there are some who don't look out for their tenants' best interests. We would recommend searching the database for 'Rogue Landlords' (that is landlords who have been identified as causing their tenants problems) before signing  a tenancy agreement. 


Proving your Right to Rent

Anyone who wishes to rent a private property in the UK has to undergo what is known as a 'right to rent' check. 

Most international students studying a full-time course with Royal Holloway will hold a Student visa which will provide you with a right to rent. If you hold a different visa then please check with us about your right to rent. 

You can follow the instructions below to generate a 'share code' for your landlord which they'll be able to use to check your visa status and right to rent.

If you are having any problems proving your right to rent then please contact our International Advice team 

You can only prove your right to rent once you've been granted your visa and if you will receive a BRP then you'll also need to have arrived in the UK and collected it before being able to use the link above to generate a share code. 

However, this shouldn't stop you entering into a tenancy agreement or contract before you arrive in the UK. If your landlord has concerns about this, you can direct them to the UK Government's guidance to Landlords which states


In some cases, it may not be practical to check the documents of someone who will live in the property before the residential tenancy is agreed. For example, if a person lives overseas or in a remote area and wishes to arrange accommodation in advance of their arrival. In these circumstances, you can agree to a tenancy in principle and then check the tenant’s documents in person when they arrive in the UK.



Finding a guarantor 

Most private landlords require a tenant to provide someone as a guarantor for their rent. That means that if for any reason you are unable to pay the cost of living in the property, the landlord can instead pursue your guarantor instead. 

Most guarantors need to be UK based and have a certain level of income to be considered suitable. 

If you don't have a UK based guarantor that meets the requirements but you still wish to live in private accommodation, then you have 2 options 

1. Find a private guarantor - there are several organisations that can act as your guarantor. They generally charge a fee for their service and you'll need to check with your landlord that they'll accept them instead of an individual. 

Housing Hand 

Rent Guarantor 

2. Pay rent in advance - If you don't have a guarantor then landlords will often accept payment in advance. If that's the case, you'll need to think carefully about whether you can afford to pay a significant amount of rent upfront. 


Getting further advice and support

The Royal Holloway Students' Union offers advice and guidance on private housing in the UK as well as organising several events throughout the year to help students make informed choices about moving into private housing. 


For students living in the London, The University of London provide a very comprehensive guide renting in London. You can download it here


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