As an alternative to living in our accommodation, you could rent a flat from a private landlord. Our accommodation office will support and advise you on private accommodation, in particular where best to start looking.
Due to the ongoing housing and cost of living crisis, private accommodation is more difficult to find and may be more expensive than usual. Please take this into consideration when looking for accommodation within the private sector and start your search as soon as possible.
Private Accommodation Support Service
We understand that finding a place to live in a new city can be a challenge. If you are having difficulty finding accommodation or just need some guidance, we have a dedicated team of staff that can help.
The private accommodation support service is available all year. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
What support does the service provide?
- General advice on what to look for and what to avoid when starting a search in the private sector.
- Signposting to specialist advisers on more technical queries/concerns i.e. questions regarding tenancies, legal queries.
- A non-exhaustive list of letting agents/student accommodation providers within the city.
- Arranging face to face/virtual appointments with students to discuss any of the above.
- Annual Private Accommodation Support Fayre in March/April – inviting accommodation providers and advice agencies for students looking to rent privately the following academic term.
- Two Private Accommodation Support Sessions in September (start of Trimester 1) and January (start of Trimester 2).
- A list of generic short term lets you may wish to consider for the first few weeks till you find long term accommodation via the private sector (see downloadable documents at the bottom of this page)
- A list of generic estate agents you may wish to consider (see downloadable documents at the bottom of this page)
- Information on renting in the private sector (see downloadable documents at the bottom of this page)
What the service doesn't cover:
- Providing private accommodation to residents.
- Providing a list of private sector vetted properties leased via landlords/agents with availability.
- Recommending any landlords/letting agents - we do not work directly with any providers and therefore cannot guarantee the practices, processes or legal compliance of any providers.
- Providing or acting as a guarantor service.
- Negotiating or liaising with a landlord/letting agent on a student’s behalf - we can only signpost to advice agencies within the city with specialist housing knowledge.
Step 1 - Where to start?
Private sector accommodation in the city generally consists of 3, 4 and 5-bedroom flats located in tenement-style buildings, which are very common in Edinburgh. Flats are usually rented to tenants either by the home owner (usually the landlord) or through a letting agent.
In some cases you may find lodgings where the home owner lives in the same property and rents out rooms to tenants. This option of housing is less common and not suitable if you are sharing with a number of people. Lodgings are usually let on a self-catered basis, meaning that you will provide your own food and share the kitchen with the owner.
There are a number of points to consider before starting your search for a prospective property:
- What is your budget?
- What area do you want to live in?
- How accessible are the public transport links?
- Are there shops and other local amenities close by?
- Is the prospective flat in close proximity to the university campus?
- How long do you plan to live there?
Places to live in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas
Finding a flat in the west of the city will keep you close to our campuses, but with the fantastic public transport links all over the city your options don't end there. Here are some of Edinburgh's most popular areas to live.
Living in the Old or New Towns will put you right in the centre of the action, especially come August when the Edinburgh Festival engulfs the city. Bear in mind, though, that with this convenience also comes cost, and certain areas can be noisy.
Marchmont is a blend of Edwardian and Victorian buildings and is blessed with lots of nice shops, cafes and bars, too. It sits on the edge of the Meadows and is just 15 minutes' walk from both Princes Street and our Merchiston campus.
Newington is popular with students and has the advantage of having the bustling city centre on one side and Holyrood Park on the other. There are loads of great takeaways, restaurants, cafes and bars up the length of Nicholson Street and South Clerk Street, and buses that service this area connect easily to all three of our campuses.
If you're studying at our Merchiston campus, a flat in Bruntsfield will mean you'll have the campus on your doorstep. It's also home to many of Edinburgh's best independent shops, as well as bustling bars, trendy coffee shops and restaurants.
Located on the east side of the city, Leith is a bit further away from our campuses but can be cheaper to live in. Public transport links are easily available and the area has lots of local shops, bars and restaurants to visit.
If you are struggling to find a flat in Edinburgh, you may wish to extend your search to towns and villages in the surrounding areas, such as West Lothian, Midlothain, East Lothian and Fife. Flats here are often much cheaper than in the city centre, but you will have a longer and possibly more expensive commute, so it's best to investigate your public transport options.
How much will it cost?
Rent will vary depending on the size, location and condition of the flat. Most single bedrooms in a shared student flat can cost between £400-700 per month. All students will have to pay gas and electricity bills - please keep in mind that energy prices have risen significantly over the past year. In addition you may want to factor in other costs including telephone, internet and a TV licence as these will not be included.
Most landlords will request one month rent in advance in addition to your deposit. International students without a UK guarantor may be asked to pay up to 6 months' rent in advance.
You may be asked to provide a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent or for any damage if you are not able to and will normally be your parent or guardian. If you are unable to provide a UK guarantor, you may be asked to pay more rent in advance. This should not be more than 6 months’ worth of rent.
Housing Hand is a guarantor service which will act as your guarantor for a small monthly fee. For further information and rates please see their website.
Step 2 - Finding a flat
There are often a lot of people looking for student properties in Edinburgh. We therefore suggest that you start searching for a flat at least a month prior to the start of your course.
Private Student Accommodation
Here are a few sites to get you started - most will be updated regularly with new properties. Searching for a private flat can be quite time consuming so be prepared to do a lot of browsing online:
Not all flats will be rented by the homeowner. In some cases the homeowner will employ a letting agent to manage their properties. The letting agent will manage the rental process, including legal formalities from signing a lease to dealing with repairs and maintenance. The main letting agents advertise on the following sites:
There are many online sites such as spareroom.co.uk where people advertise for flatmates to live with them. You’ll need to register with these sites but you can look for a room to rent, as well as post a profile of yourself - be honest! They are quick and easy to search and generally no calls need to be made initially since most of the communication is done via email which makes the process a bit less daunting if English is not your first language.
Spareroom has fees if you want to contact fresh listings – otherwise you will need to wait until the listing is 7 days old.
These can be found in national and local newspapers, usually on a Wednesday. If you’re in Edinburgh, have a look at local shop windows, where people often advertise rooms to rent. These are not governed by a local body so be careful with private adverts and don’t hand over any money until you have seen the flat. This is very important – do not send or make a payment for accommodation until you have seen the property.
In addition to the above, the following websites provide good advice and guidance:
Be safe and avoid scams!
Remember, when you go to view potential flats to rent, always follow these safety guidelines:
- Don't go on your own. Always take someone with you when you visit a flat.
- Always let other people know where you’re going, who you’re meeting and when you should be back.
- Arrange to call someone afterwards to let them know you’re safe.
- If you arrange to meet someone over the internet to view a property, be doubly cautious - people on the internet aren’t necessarily who they say they are.
- Don't pay any monies prior to viewing the flat and signing your tenancy agreement.
- It is advisable to make payments via a bank transfer, cheque or debit/credit card; and
- Always try and get the names of people you speak to on the phone and keep all correspondence, e.g. letters and emails.
For more advice on keeping safe and avoiding housing scams, visit the ENSA Advice website.
If you’re looking for a place to rent, it’s a good idea to ensure that the landlord is accredited by Landlord Accreditation Scotland. This means that they offer good quality accommodation and operate to higher standards than other landlords and letting agents.
Step 3 - Understanding your Tenancy Agreement
When you move into a privately rented property, your landlord should ask you to sign a tenancy agreement outlining the terms of your stay. A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord that sets out your rights to live in a rented property.
If renting from a private landlord, you will now be issued with a Private Residential tenancy or PRT. One of the key things to note is that PRTs do not have a set length i.e. 6 months or 12 months. This means your landlord can’t just ask you to leave because you have been in the tenancy for six months. It is important that you fully read and understand your tenancy agreement.
A tenancy agreement must include certain information. Some important points include:
- The name of the landlord and the name of the tenant
- The address of the property to be rented
- The amount of rent to pay and how your rent can be increased
- How much the deposit is and where it will be registered ( what tenancy deposit scheme)
- The process for the tenancy being brought to an end
- The condition that the landlord must make sure the property is in, including the repairing standard.
- That the tenant will give reasonable access to the property, when the landlord has given at least 48 hours’ notice
How can I make sure my tenancy agreement is fair?
Your landlord must give you the private residential tenancy statutory terms: supporting notes, with your tenancy agreement, which will explains the basic 9 set of terms that your landlord has to include in the lease. It shouldn’t contain any unfair terms. Examples of unfair terms might be a sentence stating that:
Unfair terms are not legally binding.
- Your landlord can change the terms of the tenancy agreement whenever they like and that you will have to accept the new terms
- You have to pay for repairs that should be your landlord’s responsibility
- Your landlord can enter the property whenever they like, without giving you notice.
The Scottish Government introduced the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011. Under this legislation, the method by which a deposit is taken and held by landlords has changed. All private landlords must now place the deposit paid into a tenancy deposit scheme.
The deposit resides within the deposit scheme and is repaid to the tenant by the scheme administrator should there be no dispute at the end of the lease. In the case of a dispute the scheme will provide a resolution service. This means the tenant can ask for the case to be referred to an independent adjudicator. The adjudicator will make a decision about how the deposit should be repaid, based on the evidence provided by both parties.
Make sure you keep a receipt for all financial transactions from your landlord or letting agent.
Step 4 - After you move in
Register with a GP and dentist
One of the first things you should do after moving in is to register with a local doctor (GP) and dentist. It will mean that you can easily access health services if you need to and will also make it easier for the University to support you if you suffer any mental health issues.
You can find local doctors and dentists via the NHS 24 website:
Arrange contents insurance
Contents insurance protects your belongings while you’re living in private accommodation. There are a number of providers available, with many specialising in student contents insurance. Make sure to shop around and find the best deal that covers everything you brought with you. Remember, high-value items such as laptops, cameras, jewellery and bikes may need to be added as extras, so read the policy carefully!
Further Support and Advice
The Edinburgh Napier Students' Association provides a free, confidential and independent education and welfare advice service. They can offer advice on how to find accommodation, look over leases and tenancy agreements, advise on tenant rights and responsibilities and help with flatmate, landlord or deposit disputes.
To contact them, visit the ENSA Advice website, call 0131 229 8791 or email email@example.com
Private Sector Support Events
We provide private sector support events offering general advice in late August/early September as well as January for Trimester 2 students. These events are to support students trying to find accommodation within the private sector. Please note that while we can offer a second opinion, pointers, support and information, but we cannot find listings and flats for students, or recommend specific letting agents.
The next Private Sector Support Event will run on the following dates:
Monday 4 September – Friday 8 September 2023 between 1pm-4.30pm : Main face-to-face support sessions will be located in the Bainfield student accommodation main office (above the common room). A dedicated member of staff will be available on hand to help with any questions and help with arranging viewings/correspondence if needed. Students will have access to a laptop and internet, a printer, as well as a phone with a UK SIM card. Students can ask for a second opinion on whether a listing looks legitimate and if the price is fair. There will also be a whiteboard for students to share their details to find fellow students searching for flats, so they can contact each other.
Monday 11 September – Friday 15 September 2023 between 9am-5pm: One-on-one pre-booked Microsoft Teams sessions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
We host a private sector accommodation fair every year, where we extend an invite to all Edinburgh’s letting agencies and private student accommodation providers to advertise their properties and availability. We also invite Shelter Scotland and ENSA to provide legal advice and help for students.
This year’s fair was held on Wednesday 22 February 2023. Our 2024 fair is scheduled for Wednesday 21 February 2024 (date may change closer to time).
Both Shelter Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland offer a range of resources, advice and guidance on their websites.