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University accommodation FAQs

How likely is it that I will be offered accommodation?

Once you've joined the waiting list and we know your individual circumstances and requirements, we may be able to assess how likely it is you'll be offered a property.

For example, if you live outside the Cambridgeshire area you are more likely to be offered a property than someone who has been living in Cambridge for more than a year.

We usually offer a property 10-12 weeks in advance of the move-in date, once we know the intentions of current tenants.

Most properties are let on an academic year cycle, which starts in September. However, there are some properties that become available at other points in the year.

How quickly do I need to accept a property offer?

Offers are only valid for 48 hours. Please ensure that you have read the sample tenancy agreement in advance so that you are in a position to accept the offer as quickly as possible.

What happens if I don't reply to the property offer within 48 hours?

If you don't reply, the property will be offered to someone else. You will still be on the waiting list and may be offered another property if one becomes available. If you have been offered three properties and either declined all the offers or allowed them to expire, we may remove you from the waiting list.

How do I accept the offer?

You can accept the offer by paying the administration fee (credit or debit card required) and signing the online tenancy agreement.

How much is the administration fee?

A non-refundable admin fee of £180 is payable to hold the property and prevent it from being offered to anyone else. This does not form part of your deposit or monthly rent. Payment can be made by credit or debit card online.

What happens after I've paid the administration fee and agreed to the tenancy?

Once you have paid the administration fee the property will not be offered to anyone else. You will then have 7 days to sign the full tenancy agreement, pay the deposit and confirm the move-in date.

How much will my deposit be?

You will need to pay a deposit equivalent to two months' rent as soon as possible after you have accepted the offer.

If we haven't received your deposit within 7 days of you accepting the offer, we will assume that you no longer want the property and will offer it to someone else.

If you have difficulty paying the deposit for any reason, please contact the Accommodation Service.

Your deposit will be refunded to you at the end of the tenancy, providing you have met the terms of your contract. Payments can be made online.

How do I decline an offer?

Please login to the site to decline an offer as soon as possible. This will allow us to offer the place to someone else straight away. If you do not respond within 48 hours, your offer will be automatically withdrawn.

Once you have accepted an offer information about your tenancy will be available in the ‘My Account’ section on this site.

Can I still search the private property adverts if I'm on the waiting list?

You can search the private property adverts at any point until you have accepted an offer on the waiting list. Once you have accepted an offer you will no longer be able to search for a private property.

What do I do if I find a private property while I'm on the waiting list?

The best thing to do is to let us know that you no longer require a University property. You can do this by logging in to your Accommodation Service account and removing yourself from the waiting list in the preferences section.

What should I do once I have found a suitable property through your search?

Arrange to see it by contacting the Landlord directly. It is advised not to sign any contracts for private accommodation without seeing it first.

Can you arrange viewings for me?

No. Our service is simply to link up those seeking with available accommodation. You must contact landlords directly to request viewings.

What is the best way to contact landlords?

Email is fine for initial contact and to find out more information. Once you are in Cambridge and making appointments for viewings, telephone is recommended.

What should I do what should I do if I can't come to Cambridge to view properties?

If you are going to live in University accommodation it can be taken sight unseen.

If you are considering private accommodation, if possible send someone else to look at it on your behalf. It is not generally advisable to take private accommodation sight unseen.

I am moving with my family - what is my best option?

University property may be the best option for you, as you can be assured of a good standard and have confidence in your landlord.

Otherwise it may be prudent for you to come over and look at properties while you stay in temporary accommodation (such as a Bed & Breakfast or hotel), having arranged viewings before you arrive. Once you have seen somewhere suitable and agreed a moving in date then your family can join you. It usually takes about 3 days from viewing rooms that you like to being able to move in, and a little longer for houses or flats.

When is the best time to arrive in Cambridge to look?

Avoid the Christmas and New Year period and other bank holidays when University and city agencies may be closed.

Do you have a list of accommodation for very short visits?

Yes, here.

What is the procedure for obtaining private rooms/properties?

  1. Ask the landlord as many questions as possible over the phone to make sure it is suitable.
  2. Always see the accommodation first.
  3. There may be fees other than a deposit and rent in advance.
  4. Let us know when you’ve agreed to move in.
  5. Note the condition of the accommodation and check the inventory thoroughly with the owner upon moving in. This is important as the return of your deposit at the end of your tenancy depends on it.

What should I do when I have secured accommodation?

When you have found somewhere to live through the Accommodation Service and agreed a contract with the landlord, agent or University, please let us know. We rely on your feedback to update the availability of properties on our system.

To let us know, select the property that you will be moving into from your list of Matching Properties or Shortlist. On the property details page, click on the option 'Please tell us if you are moving in' from the right-hand menu and follow the instructions.

If you have found somewhere to live outside of this service, or are no longer seeking accommodation through the service, let us know so that we can update your details. Simply send us an email or click on 'Cancel Service' on the top right of the page to close your account with the Service at this time.

What are the advantages of being in a University property rather than a privately-owned one?

University-owned properties offer good value for money in Cambridge. Many of them are in purpose-built in communities, specially designed to meet the needs of people connected to the University. They are managed and maintained to a high standard by the Accommodation Service and protected 24/7 by the University security team.

How long can I rent a property for?

Most University accommodation is offered for an initial period of 12 months. We occasionally have some properties that are available for shorter time periods.

Can I stay on longer in my property?

Approximately 3-4 months before the end of your first 12 month tenancy, you will be contacted by a member of the Accommodation Service team and given the option to extend your contract for an additional year. If you wish to extend, you must be able to prove that you have a job with the University for a minimum of 12 months.

Can I move out of my property before the current tenancy has expired?

It is possible to leave your property before the tenancy has expired. However, as you signed a fixed term contract, you will remain liable for the rent and utilities until a replacement tenant can be found. Please contact the Accommodation Service if you are thinking about leaving your property early.

Sample tenancy agreement

Download our sample property tenancy agreement.

Why do I have to join a waiting list to be considered for a university property?

There are more people than properties available, so we need to be able to allocate them to the people that need them most in the fairest and most efficient way. More people are more likely to end up in the property that meets their needs in this way. Completing the form tells us you are interested in a University property.

What kind of information do you collect on the waiting list form?

On the waiting list form, we need to know:

  • The location(s) where you would like to live. To maximise your chances of being offered a property, we recommend that you tick as many locations as possible. A greyed-out option means that there are no properties that meet your household requirements in that location.
  • Your moving-in date. You could be offered a property with a start date up to 15 days before the date you specify. Rent payments are calculated from the day that the property is made available to you.
  • Whether you require a ground floor property, or not.

 How do you decide what size of property to offer me?

The size of property you will be eligible for is based on the details you provided about your household when you first registered with the Accommodation Service.

Single occupants and couples will be offered a 1 bedroom property.

Families with children will be offered 1 bedroom for a couple/single parent, plus1 bedroom per child.

What happens after I've completed the waiting list form?

We need to check that you are eligible (for example, some properties are only available to students or staff) and we need to assess your household requirements.

For example, if you have been living in Cambridge for more than a year you are less likely to be added to the list than someone who lives outside the Cambridgeshire area.

We'll aim to let you know whether or not you've been added to the waiting list within 7 days.

Although we always aim to allocate accommodation fairly and as close to your requirements as availability allows, we have certain priorities when dealing with the waiting list to determine who is made an offer first.

Can I change my requirements?

Once you're on the waiting list, you can review and change your requirements at any time within the University waiting list section.

Can I request a specific property or room?

 No. However you can get a good sense of the size and scale of the accommodation by looking at the photos and floorplans on this site. Within each location, the properties are all very similar and maintained to a consistently high standard by the University.

I've been added to the waiting list - what next?

You will receive an email and a text message to let you know when you've been offered a property. You will need to log back in to view the full details of the property, including the start date, rent and full address. The offer will only be valid for 48 hours so it's very important that you make sure all your personal details are kept up to date in your account area. We strongly recommend that you check your junk mail during this period.

Although there are no guarantees that you will receive an offer of a property, we will try and give you an accurate forecast to allow you to make plans.

How safe is the information I provide to you?

You will only have an active account on the site for as long as you are eligible, actively seeking accommodation or a tenant at one of the properties.

Other parties, including other landlords and the general public, cannot see your details at all.

Your contact details are protected by the University of Cambridge privacy policy.

Our web site is hosted on the University of Cambridge servers by the University Information Service (UIS) and conforms to their security standards.