If you decide to rent a home during your stay in Oxford, you will be asked early on by an estate agent whether you would like your property to be fully furnished (ie, with all the furniture and appliances), semi-furnished or unfurnished. Unfurnished properties willl typically be cheaper than their furnished equivalents, but you will need to source your own furniture. Once you have decided on the property, you will enter into a tenancy agreement with the landlord (either directly or through an estate agent), which will set out the terms of the rental and other mutual rights and obligations between you and your landlord, including an initial deposit.
Landlords are required by UK law to check your right to rent before the tenancy begins. This will depend on your visa status and may be time-limited. You will be asked to provide appropriate documents to prove your right to rent for the whole of the tenancy period.
Depending on your circumstances and the terms of your employment with the University, you may opt for a short- or long-term rental.
- A short-term rental (or ‘short let’) is a property that is paid on a weekly or monthly basis for no longer than three months
- A long-term rental (or ‘long let’) is a property that is rented out for more than three months and up to a year (renewable on a yearly basis, potentially with an additional administration fee)
Temporary or rental accommodation
If you have a college affiliation, your college may be able to offer you rented accommodation, at least on a temporary basis. The Graduate Accommodation Office also has some accommodation for couples and families around the city.
Most people make their own arrangements for private rentals by using the following online property listing pages, although one should be mindful of the possibility of scam landlords.
Some estate agents and specialist agencies focus on rentals and will charge finder's and other administrative fees:
- Carter Jonas - the agency through which the University lists its own properties in Oxford and Wytham
- Finders Keepers
- Oxford Short Lets
Estate agents that sell property may also rent property. They will usually list properties on the following sites:
Initial cost and fees
Rent is typically paid at the beginning of the month to cover the month ahead. As a result, at the start of your tenancy you should expect to pay:
- the first month upfront
- the agreed deposit (usually the equivalent of four to six weeks' rent)
- estate agency fees (if you decide to go through this service)
Please note that estate agencies may also charge tenants certain fees for specific services, such as credit checks, references and administration. However, they are not allowed to charge you for simply registering with them or for showing you lists of properties available for sale or rent.
Tips for tenants
- Familiarise yourself with tenants’ rights in the UK.
- Make sure your landlord is registered with a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme and that your deposit is paid into one of the available schemes.
- Sign your tenancy agreement before you move into the property.
- Confirm that you understand and agree fully with the terms before signing the tenancy agreement (do not sign the tenancy agreement if you do not fully agree with its terms or if you do not fully understand it - ask for it to be clarified or changed)
- Check the inventory for the property thoroughly before moving in. If your landlord does not provide an inventory it is advisable that you make one yourself and send a copy to the landlord. This can prevent later disputes about the contents of the property.
- Check, note and photograph any existing damage to the furniture and/or property.
If you need further assistance, the local Oxfordshire branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau will be happy to assist you in person or on the phone. In addition, you can read their online guidance on renting accommodation here.
Disclaimer: Please note that the University does not endorse any of the external websites listed above, or elsewhere in this guidance.