Where to stay
If you’re relocating to the Southampton area, we can help with advice and guidance on finding somewhere to stay.
Types of accommodation
Bed and breakfast (B&B)
B&Bs are private homes which offer short-term room accommodation with breakfast.
Renting (also known as letting) is where you agree to pay a fixed amount to a landlord for a room or entire property that the landlord owns, but does not live in. The landlord pays for all property charges incurred by the ownership.
Being a lodger means that you rent a room in someone’s home and share the accommodation with them. As a lodger you will pay for your room and usually contribute towards household bills.
A person or company that owns a property but rents/lets it to others.
The person or group that rents from a landlord and lives in the property for an agreed period of time.
A firm that manages the rental of properties on behalf of the landlord – see section on agent fees
Staying for a few nights
If you’re considering coming to Southampton for a short visit before you move here and want somewhere to stay for a few nights then here are some links to local bed and breakfasts:
You’ll find more bed and breakfast properties at www.airbnb.co.uk
There are also a number of hotels in and around Southampton. From the low cost Novotel, Ibis and Etap to luxury hotels such as the Hilton and the Grand Harbour. Most of the hotels are located within the city centre, which is about a 20 minute journey by car to the hospital (a number of bus services cover the route). More options can be found on hotel booking websites such as laterooms.com, expedia.co.uk, trivago.co.uk, kayak.co.uk and booking.com
Renting a property
How it works
You can rent a room or an entire property, usually for a period of six months or more, from an independent landlord or via a letting agent (see who’s who section).
Your landlord or letting agent will ask you to sign a tenancy agreement, which is a legal contract that sets out the basic terms of the rental, such as the amount of rent you’ll pay, the length of the contract and other mutual rights and obligations between you and your landlord. You should carefully check and sign the agreement before you move into the property. If there’s anything in the agreement that you don’t understand or agree with, you can talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau before you sign the document.
You may also have to pay an initial deposit in case you break or damage anything within the property – see the ‘When you’ve found a place’ section.
For more detailed advice, download the UK government’s How to rent guidance pdf.
Furnished or unfurnished?
Rented properties are either available with furniture and appliances (‘furnished’) or without (‘unfurnished’). Sometimes a property may be advertised as ‘semi-furnished’, in which case you need to ask what furniture and appliances are included in the monthly rental cost.
If the property is unfurnished then, rather than buying new, why not visit these websites for recycled or pre-loved furniture:
Length of contract
A short let property is one that can be rented on a weekly or monthly basis, whilst a long let refers to anything over six months. The majority of landlords usually let their properties for no less than six months at a time, so short lets can be difficult to find.
In the UK, a tenancy is usually agreed for a fixed period of time, with the opportunity to renew your agreement after this period expires. If you choose to renew your agreement your landlord could increase your rent and ask you to pay a renewal fee. If they don’t create a new contract then they can’t increase your rent but they do have the right to give you only two months’ notice to leave the property.
We recommend that you spend some time getting to know your rights.
Finding a rental property
There are lots of websites that can help you find a rental property in the UK:
If you’re looking for pet-friendly accommodation visit the Mitula website.
Lots of rooms are also advertised on our internal notice boards, which are situated throughout the hospital.
For short lets (under three months):
When you’ve found a place
Paying a deposit
Your landlord or letting agent will ask you to pay a deposit before you move – it is standard practice in the UK. The deposit covers the landlord should there be any damage to the property or any of the contents owned by the landlord. You’ll usually have to pay the following:
- The first month’s rent
- Plus the equivalent of another month’s rent
- Letting fee – this is variable and dependent on the individual landlord or estate agent
- Agent fees – these vary and can usually be found on the agent’s website
Make sure you get a receipt for any deposit or fees you have paid.
If you haven’t caused any damage to the property while you’ve lived there then the landlord should return your deposit in full when you move out. They cannot keep any of your money for anything that is considered to be normal deterioration of fixtures, fittings and items (known as ‘wear and tear’).
Your landlord is under a legal requirement to put your deposit into one of the government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes. This ensures that your deposit will be protected if your landlord refuses to refund it without a good reason or makes unreasonable deductions.
Every scheme provides a free dispute resolution service. If you disagree with your landlord about how much of the deposit should be returned, the dispute resolution service will resolve the matter and refund the appropriate amount.
You should also take photographs of the property and any existing damage on the day you move in, and again on the day you leave to help resolve any disputes that may arise. The Citizens Advice Bureau is there to help provide advice and support should you need it.
What’s already provided?
A landlord may also ask you to sign an inventory, which is a list of all the items found in the property (furniture, kitchen items, etc). When you move in, check that everything listed on the inventory list is included and that any existing damage to these items is included in the document before you sign it. You should also ask for a copy of the document (you might need this document again when you move out). 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.
Top five tips
The UK government have produced an excellent ‘How to rent’ checklist which you can download, but in the meantime, here are our five top tips:
- Renting direct from a landlord: Don't hand over any cash until you've got the landlord's full name and a contact address. If you're concerned, you can always double check that they own the property via the Land Registry website (costs £3).
- Renting via a letting agent: Check that the letting agent is a member of a professional body such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents, National Approved Lettings Scheme, UK Association of Letting Agents or National Association of Estate Agents
- Take lots of photos inside and outside the property. It’s important to do this before you move your furniture or personal belongings in as it could save you from losing your deposit.
- Make sure you know where your stopcock is. Your mains water tap, or stopcock, is the off-switch for all the water in your home. Hopefully you'll never need it. But if you don't know where it is and a pipe bursts, you'll be powerless to stop it flooding your home.
- Check the detail – there can be hidden agency fees so make sure you ask if any other fees apply. You should also read the small print on the contract as there could be large fees if you have to leave before your agreement has ended.
Keep an eye out for scams
Make sure you don’t become a victim of scams. Here are some warning signs:
- you are asked to wire money via Western Union
- the landlord is away/unable to show you around the property
- contact information that does not work
- a landlord using a free email address like hotmail or gmail
- the price is much cheaper than others in the area
- the landlord asks for money before you have seen the property
If you are suspicious contact the Citizens Advice Bureau and if you are aware of a scammer cut off all contact and report them immediately to www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
Buying a home
How it works
Buying a property in the UK can take some time and be a little complicated but there are websites that help explain everything you need to know about buying a property in the UK.
Help to buy scheme
The government has created the Help to Buy scheme to help you buy your own home. It’s essentially a dedicated savings account (an ISA) where the UK government will put in an additional pot of money. For example, if you save £200 a month, they’ll add £50, up to a maximum of £3,000.
In order to qualify for a Help to Buy ISA you must:
- be 16 years old or over
- have a valid national insurance number
- be a UK resident
- be a first time buyer, and not own a property anywhere in the world
- not have another active cash ISA in the same tax year. If you have opened a cash ISA this tax year, you can open a Help to Buy ISA but will have to take additional steps. See the FAQ for more detail.
See more at: www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa/who-is-eligible
Many of the medical roles within the NHS are considered to be key worker roles and, as such, you may be able to benefit from the properties that are reserved exclusively for key workers. To find out more contact www.homebuyservice.co.uk/eligibility/key-worker-eligibility.html
Finding a property to buy
There are a number of websites that can help you find the perfect home in the UK. Here are just some of the UK’s favourites.
Estate/letting agent fees
Agents might charge you a fee 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.
All residents in the UK have to pay a council tax to the local authority that look after the local area they live in. The tax is used to pay for essential government run services such as fire and police services, rubbish collection, street lighting and maintenance. The amount you’ll have to pay will depend on where you live and what type of property you live in. You can find out more by visiting:
If you buy a property to live in, you’ll need to pay for the gas, electricity, water, telephone and internet bills. If you decide to rent then you’ll need to check which, if any, of these bills your landlord will pay.
As there are a number of different providers for these services, it pays to shop around to find the best deal. The following websites enable you to do just that.
If you’re renting, your landlord should already have buildings insurance in place so you’ll just need to arrange insurance for your personal belongings (contents insurance).
If you’re buying a property, you’ll need to arrange both buildings and contents insurance to ensure that you’re covered in the event of any damage to your property or your possessions. To find the best deals visit:
To watch TV in the UK you have to pay a licence fee, no matter what device you’re watching in it on. You can find out more by visiting the TV licensing website.