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Renting introduction

Types of UK accommodation

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If you're considering renting in the UK for the first time, then it might be worth your while knowing a little bit about some of the options that are open to you in terms of the types of accommodation that are available for you to live in. This list is by no means exhaustive, as virtually any type of residential building can be found inhabited by rent paying tenants. Keep an eye on our features section over the coming months for an ongoing series about the many housing types it is possible to find in the UK.

Halls, hostel or purpose built residence
University students and medical workers often have the option of living in a purpose built building that is occupied by other people from their academic or professional establishment. The exact nature of the living space can vary, but the most common scenario is to find 4 to 6 individual lockable rooms in a flat with a shared kitchen and bathroom. There is sometimes a lounge in the flat, though it is equally likely that there will be a shared common area for each floor of the building or each separate block. Many hostels work in much the same way, but allow people to stay for nightly, weekly or monthly durations.

Council accommodation
Council owned accommodation can take many shapes and forms. When most people conjure up a mental image of a council owned property, they probably think of large blocks of flats on a sprawling estate, or a terraced house on a street with hundreds of other identical properties. Many council properties are like this, but not all of them. Cumulatively, local authorities are one of the largest landowners in Britain, and so the type and range of properties they own is as diverse as you might expect. The quality and condition of the place you end up with is very much down to chance and the overall standard of the area you live in.

It is still quite common for people to take in a lodger. The landlord may be renting a room out for one of a number of reasons: they may be an 'empty nester' (someone whose children have left home) with rooms to spare; they may simply be in need of some company or extra money; it could be a couple that have bought a bigger flat than they should have, and have found themselves financially overstretched, or it could be a family taking on a student or worker.

For many people, living in a bedsit is the first foray into the private rental sector. As with everything, standards vary, but all bedsits are much the same in concept. Essentially, you have one main self-contained small unit to live in. This will come with a living area which doubles as a bedroom and a mini kitchen area that is also part of the same room. You should also get a basic (and small) bathroom, but it is not uncommon to find a communal bathroom and kitchen shared between two or more bedsits in a building.

There is fine line between a studio and a bedsit. In fact, many people who apply to view a rental property that is advertised as a studio really find that it is a bedsit they are going to view. Essentially, a studio flat should always have bathroom and kitchen facilities. The kitchen may or may not be in a separate room to the main living area, but often will be. There should be no shared facilities with a studio flat and you should have your own lockable entrance door. Studio flats are more expensive than bedsits and often more spacious.

Flat or house share
A flat or house share is where people live together in a private residence and share all the facilities - the kitchen, living room, bathroom and any garden there may be. People living in such arrangements will normally share responsibility for payment of bills and council tax for the property. Flat or house shares are often arrangements favoured by groups of friends, though it is not uncommon for people that don't know each other to live in a shared house. You can even find many situations where some people know each other and some don't. The property itself can be anything from a two bedroom flat to an eight-bedroom house. As a rule of thumb, the more people, the better value.

Flat or house sole tenancy
This is exactly like a flat or house share, but without the other residents! There are a large number of individuals, couples and families that rent a property without sharing the responsibilities, costs or facilities with anyone else.

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