There is a wide range of accommodation available in Oxford, but with two universities and many businesses based in the city it can take some time to find a suitable place to stay. This page outlines the various options you have, and provides an explanation of the most common housing vocabulary used.
Renting property in the UK
You have the option of renting either private housing, or renting a room in a college or hall of residence. If you will be visiting Oxford for a month or longer, the best option may be to book a hotel for your first few days in Oxford, and then visit potential rooms for the rest of your visit once you are in Oxford in person.
There are two main types of private housing in the UK:
Shared accommodation - Renting a room in a house or flat shared with other people is a popular choice for short-term visitors - it is both one of the most cost-efficient ways to rent, and gives you a network of contacts in Oxford.
Individual housing - A house or flat that you (and your family, if they are in Oxford) live in alone, without sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities with other people.
Click here for a description of the different types of accommodation available in the UK and the terms used for each (e.g. semi-detached house, flat).
Whether shared or individual, rented properties in the UK are either available with furniture and appliances (‘furnished’) or without (‘unfurnished’). Sometimes a property may be advertised as ‘semi-furnished’. In this case you should check what furniture and appliances are included.
If you rent accommodation you will enter into a contract with a landlord (either with the individual landlord, or through a letting agent) known as a tenancy agreement. This agreement sets out the basic terms of the rental, such as the amount of rent, the length of the tenancy and other mutual rights and obligations between you and your landlord. You may also have to pay an initial deposit in case you break or damage anything within the property.
Depending on the arrangement you have with the landlord, you may also be responsible for payments for bills such as gas, electricity, water, telephone and internet bills and municipal taxes (known as council tax). These are usually paid monthly.
The Oxford City Council website also offers advice to visitors living in private housing accommodation.
The University also produces a Living out guide for students, but this also has useful information on living in Oxford for academic visitors.
For visits of less than 6 months you have a number of housing options, including:
- Renting a room in a private house with a resident landlord
- Renting a serviced apartment (with cleaning provided)
- Staying in one of the private residence halls listed below
- Renting a room in college (usually only during vacations, and for visits of one month or less)
- Staying in a Bed and Breakfast or hotel
Renting properties through a letting agent
Letting agents advertise properties for stays of one month to a year or more. They will charge around £300-500 in administration fees, and you will also need to pay a deposit of one or two months’ rent before you can move in. The Living Out guide contains a list of agents on pages 11-12.
Private rooms can be rented for as little as a week to a year or more. Costs vary depending on room size and location and whether or not bills are included, but range from £600-900 per month in Oxford. You can find private rooms to rent through:
- The Daily Information website
- Newspapers such as the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times
- Websites such as spareroom.com and easyroommate.com or gumtree. If you choose this option, never send money or sign a contract until you have seen the room in person.
- www.oxfordstudentpad.co.uk – Private landlords advertise here for tenants who are associated with the university. If you do not yet have an Oxford email address ending in .ox.ac.uk, please state clearly when you register how you will be associated with the University and your account will be activated. Please input your College if you have been allocated one.
- If you are a student or postdoc, there is a Facebook group called ‘OxGradHousing’ with posts by students seeking accommodation or sharers.
Penny & Sinclair
Fully furnished short let accommodation available, including all bills, Wi-Fi and weekly linen changes. Properties available across all Oxford.
A: 1-4 The Plain, St Clements, Oxford, OX4 1AS
T: 01865 297525
Contacts – Sammie Steepe & Vanessa Vaghetti
Oxford Short Lets - www.oxfordshortlets.co.uk
Private residence halls
If you are interested in renting a room in a private hall of residence, you will need to contact them directly to check availability and cost.
North Oxford Overseas Centre
NOOC charges depend on the length of stay - they are cheaper if the accommodation is booked for over 12 weeks.
Open since 1965, Commonwealth House (situated in Oxford city centre, within ten minutes' walk of libraries and laboratories) has welcomed students and academic visitors for both short and long stays. They provide study bedrooms, with own washbasin and refrigerator. Kitchens, shower rooms and toilets are shared. Breakfast on weekdays is provided.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone +44 1865 793132
Rewley House offers short term accommodation. They are ideally located in the centre of Oxford – visit www.conted.ox.ac.uk/facilities/ for more information
Rooms in college and other short-term options
- www.oxfordrooms.co.uk is an online booking service for bed and breakfast accommodation in Oxford colleges
- www.venuemasters.co.uk is an online booking service for University accommodation across the UK, and has rooms available at Oxford Brookes University.
- AirBnB has rooms to let in Oxford, usually for a maximum of two weeks.
- Oxford City Guesthouses lists guesthouses. These are bookable by the night and usually include breakfast.
- 5 Mile View - B&B in Oxford offering discounted rates for students, parents, teachers and all other staff in the educational sector.
- University of Oxford Club - The top floor of the University Club offers accommodation in 14 en-suite guest rooms.
Renting accommodation for six months or more
A long-term rental (or ‘long let’) is a rental of a property for six months or more. You can rent a house, flat, or a one room bedsit/studio apartment. Finding a property to rent for less than six months can be difficult as many landlords let out their properties for a minimum of six months.
Rented properties are either available with furniture and appliances (‘furnished’) or without (‘unfurnished’). Sometimes a property may be advertised as ‘semi-furnished’. In this case you should enquire which of the furniture and appliances are included.
The quickest way to find suitable properties is to use a website such as Rightmove or Zoopla, searching for properties within Oxford in your budget. You can then contact the letting agent through the website and make arrangements to view the property. Never pay any money or sign a contract without seeing the property first.
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. Your rental will normally be an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ for a fixed term typically lasting six or 12 months. Only very rarely will a longer term be agreed, and almost never will a tenancy agreement be arranged for longer than three years.
If you wish to stay beyond the fixed-term period, you may either agree with your landlord to renew the tenancy for another fixed term (in this case you may have to pay renewal fees and your landlord may increase your rent) or you may stay without making a new contract (in this case the landlord may not increase your rent but can end the tenancy by giving you two months' notice).
It is advisable to familiarise yourself with the tenants’ rights in the UK, as these may be very different from those in your home country.
You should sign your tenancy agreement before you move into the property and you should check it very carefully before signing it. Do not sign the tenancy agreement if you do not fully agree with its terms or if you do not fully understand it. If you are in doubt you may get advice in person from the local Oxfordshire branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau. You can also visit the UK Citizens Advice Bureau online for general advice.
A landlord may also ask you to sign an inventory. An inventory is a list of all the items found in the property (furniture, kitchen items, etc.). Check that it is correct and that any existing damage to these items is included in the document before you sign it. Make sure you get a copy of the document. 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 legal arguments about the contents of the property. If you damage the property or its contents, you will lose your deposit and may have to pay further costs of repair.
Council tax and utilities
Depending on the arrangement, you may also be liable for payments for utility bills, such as gas, electricity, water, telephone and internet bills and council tax (see section 'Costs of rented accommodation' below).
The Oxford City Council website also offers advice to tenants living in private housing accommodation.
See also: Living out guide. (This guide contains useful information for everyone planning to rent in Oxford, although it is primarily aimed at students).