Private rental accommodation

Important information for those who decide to stay in private rental accommodation, rather than University-managed accommodation. 

Students having coffee in University accommodation

Arranging accommodation

If you are travelling from outside Scotland, accommodation should be arranged before you arrive as there is limited private accommodation available for multiple occupancy. We strongly advise you not to arrive in Scotland without accommodation.

You should try to find accommodation that is local to the University, so you don’t incur expensive travel costs to and from the University campus.

There are laws in Scotland relating to the number of students that are legally allowed to share a property.

Make sure you carefully read and understand the conditions of the tenancy/rent agreement and note the period the agreement covers and the rental due.

Types of accommodation

The most common types of rental accommodation available in the private sector are:


Self-contained flats, houses and private halls are in high demand in Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh. If you are looking for private accommodation before you come to Scotland, the best way to find private rental properties is to search online for student accommodation in Stirling. This will provide you with information on the private rental properties available and the cost. Websites worth visiting include and

Flat share

Students advertise for flatmates to live with them through online sites such as You will need to register with these sites before you can look for a room to rent. Spareroom charges a fee if you want to see new flat share listings. Otherwise, you will need to wait until the listing is seven days old. 


Bedsits consist of a single room in a property, sharing facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom with others, and are often located in private homes. Alternatively, a landlord may rent the individual bedrooms within their property as bedsits. The best way to find a bedsit is to search online for bedsits in Stirling.

Finding private rental properties

You can find private properties available to rent by searching online, particularly if you are not in Scotland at the time of looking for a property to rent. The search results will provide information on the properties available through local letting agencies and companies specialising in student accommodation.

Adverts can also be found online through sites like Facebook and Gumtree. These are not governed by a local body, so be careful if using private adverts. Where possible, always try to view the property before making a payment. If you can't view the property, always check that the person you are sending the money to, and the property, are legitimate.

It is a good idea to search online for the landlord or letting agent's name and the words “scam” or “fraud”. If there have been problems in the past, someone is likely to have posted about it on the internet.

Additional costs on top of rent

In student accommodation managed by the University, the cost of energy and wi-fi are included in the monthly rent.

But if you are living in private rented accommodation, it is likely that you will have bills to pay on top of your rent. The bills will cover things such as gas, electricity, landline and wi-fi. So you need to ensure that you factor these costs into your budget, and not just the monthly rent cost.

Another hidden cost is travel - especially if you rent somewhere outside Stirling. Make sure you include train and bus costs in your budget.

Laws in Scotland with regards to landlords required to have a Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) Licence

Private rental properties housing three or more unrelated people must have an HMO licence from the relevant council planning department. The licence will confirm the maximum number of people permitted to stay within the property.

Important: you cannot have more tenants living in a property than the HMO states. For example: if the licence covers four tenants, you are not permitted to have more than this number staying in it.

The landlord of the property should have applied for an HMO licence. If the property is licensed, the licence must be prominently displayed. If you cannot see it, you should ask the landlord to show you a copy. You can also contact your local council as they have a list of all the licenced landlords in their area.

An HMO licence proves that the necessary checks have been carried out on the rental property to ensure that:

  • The landlord is a fit and proper person to hold a licence
  • The property is managed properly and meets the required standards in terms of safety, security, size and amenities

Unlicensed HMOs are illegal and living in an unlicensed HMO could risk your health, safety and welfare.

Find out more about HMO licencing and landlords' responsibilities at Shelter Scotland.

Tenancy agreements

When moving into a private rental property, your landlord should ask you to sign a tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord which states the terms and conditions of you living in their property. It is normally a written document outlining the terms of your stay. 

Read Shelter Scotland's guide to tenancy agreements

Tenancy deposit schemes

Most landlords require you to pay a deposit when you move into private rented accommodation. A deposit is an amount of money which acts as a guarantee against damage to the property, cleaning bills if you have left the property in poor condition, unpaid bills and unpaid rent.

Your landlord cannot charge you more than the equivalent of two months’ rent for the deposit and they have to register the deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of the tenancy starting.

Important: an approved tenancy deposit scheme will never ask you to pay money to them directly – you should always pay your deposit to your landlord or letting agent.

Read more about paying a deposit and what you can do if you can't afford a deposit.

Be safe and avoid scams!

Just because an advert is hosted on a reputable or well-known website, it doesn’t guarantee the person posting the advert is to be trusted. Ensure that the property exists and is available to rent before sending money for the deposit.

Before signing a tenancy agreement where there are three or more unrelated people renting the property, check with the landlord that the property has an HMO licence (planning permission for multiple occupancy use) and more importantly that there are no enforcement notices prohibiting multiple occupancy use.

Always try and get the names of people you speak to on the phone and keep all correspondence such as letters and emails. Renting a flat is a continuing and binding obligation, so always make sure you check before committing yourself. Pay particular attention to the termination clauses. If in doubt always ask for advice. Shelter Scotland and Citizens Advice Bureau offer an excellent advisory service. 

Other resources

In addition to the above information, the following websites provide good advice and guidance: