This section looks at your rights if you live in accommodation owned by your university or college. You will usually be a licensee and have limited rights.
If you rent from a private landlord you have rights set out in your tenancy agreement. Our subsite on renting privately has more information on your rights.
About university accommodation
University accommodation includes:
- a room in a hall of residence,
- a room in a shared student flat or house.
Check your university's website to find out which types of accommodation are available.
If you rent accommodation from your university or college, you will be a licensee and will have limited rights. Your university can evict you without giving you four weeks' notice or getting a court order.
Signing the lease
When you move into university accommodation, you will usually sign an agreement. The agreement will state:
- your name and the name of your landlord,
- where you will be living,
- how much rent you will pay,
- how long you can live in the property (the term or duration of the lease).
You may only be permitted to stay in your accommodation during term-time, and could be asked to pay extra or move out during the holidays.
Your agreement should also state:
- when your rent is due and how you will pay it,
- what your rent includes - for example, if the rent covers bills and extra services such as cleaning and meals,
- whether you are able to leave before the lease is up, and how much notice you have to give,
- responsibility for repairs,
- other rules concerning overnight guests, general behaviour, or pets.
Make sure you read the agreement carefully. If you break any of the conditions, you may be asked to move out.
What if I want to move out?
You won't have to give the university a notice to quit before moving out when your lease expires. However, you may want to leave your university accommodation before your lease is up. The agreement you sign when you move in should state whether you are able to do this, and if so, how much notice you will need to give.
The rules about leaving will vary from university to university. For example, if you pay your rent for the academic term in advance, you may not be able to get a refund if you want to move out half way through the term. Some universities may not return your deposit if you leave before your lease has ended. Others may let you move out, provided you can find another student to take your place.
If you want to move out, speak to your university accommodation office. Even if your lease says you can't move out, you may be able to come to an arrangement with them.
What if the university wants me to leave?
There are three situations when the university can end your tenancy and evict you from their property:
- when your lease comes to an end,
- if you break a condition of your agreement,
- if you leave university.
The contract has ended
Your agreement should make clear how long you can stay in your university accommodation and when you need to move out.
I've broken a condition of my agreement
Universities expect you to abide by strict rules when living in their property, and they may ask you to leave because you have broken a condition of your agreement.
The university usually only has to give you reasonable notice to move out. This can be as short as a couple of days. The university doesn't have to get a court order before evicting you. Check your agreement in case it states how much notice the university must give you.
I've left university
If you drop out or are asked to leave university, you may also have to leave your accommodation. This will depend on the rules of your university. Your agreement should state clearly when you will have to leave.
The university usually only has to give you reasonable notice to move out. Talk to the university if you don't think this is long enough to find somewhere else to live. They may allow you to stay longer. Check your agreement in case it states how much notice the university must give you.
What can I do if I'm asked to leave?
If the university wants to evict you or you encounter any other problems with your accommodation, get advice from the Students' Union, Housing Rights Service or other local agency. An adviser may be able to help you to:
- negotiate with the university to stay in your accommodation,
- find somewhere else to live,
- apply for benefits or other financial help.
The university always has a duty to ensure that your student accommodation is safe and fit for you to live in. In return, you must look after the property and any furniture provided. You must repair any damage you cause. This doesn't include fair wear and tear to the property.
If you live in a hall of residence, you are likely to live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO). If you live in a HMO you are entitled to extra protection. Contact your local HMO Unit for more information:
- Belfast and the east of Northern Ireland - (028) 90931 7000
- Coleraine and the west of Northern Ireland - (028) 7035 8111
Problems with repairs
It's best to think carefully and get advice before taking drastic action over repairs. Don't be tempted to withhold your rent to force the university to carry out repairs. Remember, you will only be living there temporarily and can be evicted fairly easily.