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Accommodation and housing for students leaving care

Accommodation and housing for students leaving careFind out about accommodation options and what to do if the standard system doesn't work for you.

Accommodation essentials

Find out about some of the essentials about university accommodation:

Accommodation during university holidays

Universities usually assume that students who live in halls will return to a family home during the holidays. When this isn't possible, you'll have to make sure that you have somewhere to live outside term.

Get in touch with your university as early as possible to enquire about holiday accommodation. Most universities have rooms that can be used over the summer, but these are often limited because the university wants to use them for other things, such as conferences or summer schools. The sooner you enquire, the more likely you are to get the room you need.

Privately rented accommodation is more likely to be year-round, but in student areas some landlords assume you won't be in the house over the summer and change the tenancy agreement accordingly. Make sure that you check before you sign - and if you're renting a house with other students, discuss it before you start searching so that everyone is agreed about what you are looking for.

While you are in higher education, your local authority has a duty to ensure that you have somewhere to live during the vacation, so get in touch with them about this. They may be able to help with the extra costs or provide you with housing.

Loneliness

Universities can be very quiet over the holidays, which can be difficult to cope with if you feel like you are the only person staying behind.

Arranging to visit friends from home or uni and keeping in touch online or on the phone can help to avoid loneliness. You could also take part in activities locally that help you to make friends who aren't from the university.

It's also worth finding out in advance about other people who are staying at university during the break, such as international students.

Find out more about dealing with loneliness and surviving the Christmas break.

If you have a council house or flat

If you have a council house or flat but are planning to go to a university that isn't near where you live, things may be more complicated.

Swapping your home

If you can find someone who is willing to swap, and the landlords and councils agree, you can swap your council house with someone else. This allows you to move to a new area without losing your tenancy.

You can find someone to swap with through websites like HouseExchange and HomeSwapper.

Leaving your home temporarily

It is sometimes possible to leave your home for a certain period of time (for example, three months) without losing your tenancy, but it's unlikely that you will be allowed to do this repeatedly to attend university full-time. It may be an option if you are doing a shorter course.

You will still have to cover the rent for your council home and the accommodation you stay in while you are away, which may make this difficult. You may be able to sublet your home to someone else while you are away, but you will need permission from the council and landlord to do this - otherwise you may be evicted and fined.

Commuting

Most students live close to their university, but this isn't the only option. You may be able to commute from your home to university. Whether this is practical will depend on the cost of travel and how long it takes, but also on your timetable – if you have lots of early lectures it may be difficult to get in on time.

Commuting is more likely to be an appropriate choice if the rent you are paying at the moment is significantly lower than you would pay near your university.

Giving up your tenancy

If you have looked at all the options and decide that the best option is to give up your council home, you'll need to give four weeks' notice. If you want to get council housing again, you'll need to go back on the waiting list.

Some councils will give you a payment when you move out of council housing, but this will vary from council to council.