As an alternative to living in our accommodation, you could rent a flat from a private landlord. Cost, quality and what’s included varies greatly across the city. Our accommodation office will support and advise you on private accommodation, in particular where best to start looking. See our guides below for tips and advice.
Where to live in Edinburgh
Finding a flat in the west of the city will keep you close to our campuses, but with the fantastic public transport links all over the city your options don't end there. Here are some of Edinburgh's most popular areas to live.
Living in the Old or New Towns will put you right in the centre of the action, especially come August when the Edinburgh Festival engulfs the city. Bear in mind, though, that with this convenience also comes cost, and certain areas can be noisy.
Marchmont is a blend of Edwardian and Victorian buildings and is blessed with lots of nice shops, cafes and bars, too. It sits on the edge of the Meadows and is just 15 minutes' walk from both Princes Street and our Merchiston campus.
Newington is popular with students and has the advantage of having the bustling city centre on one side and Holyrood Park on the other. There are loads of great takeaways, restaurants, cafes and bars up the length of Nicholson Street and South Clerk Street, and buses that service this area connect easily to all three of our campuses.
If you're studying at our Merchiston campus, a flat in Bruntsfield will mean you'll have the campus on your doorstep. It's also home to many of Edinburgh's best independent shops, as well as bustling bars, trendy coffee shops and restaurants.
These can be found in national and local newspapers, usually on a Wednesday. If you’re in Edinburgh, have a look at local shop windows, where people often advertise rooms to rent. These are not governed by a local body so be careful with private adverts and don’t hand over any money until you have seen the flat. This is very important – do not send or make a payment for accommodation until you have seen the property.
In addition to the above, the following websites provide good advice and guidance: Shelter Scotland, Edinburgh Council - Housing, and Citizens Advice Bureau.
Remember, when you go to view potential flats to rent, always follow these safety guidelines:
- Don’t go on your own. Always take someone with you when you visit a flat.
- Always let other people know where you’re going, who you’re meeting and when you should be back.
- Arrange to call someone afterwards to let them know you’re safe.
- If you arrange to meet someone over the internet to view a property, be doubly cautious - people on the internet aren’t necessarily who they say they are.
- Don’t pay any monies prior to viewing the flat and signing your tenancy agreement.
- It is advisable to make payments via a bank transfer, cheque or debit/credit card; and
- Always try and get the names of people you speak to on the phone and keep all correspondence, eg letters and emails.
If you’re looking for a place to rent, it’s a good idea to ensure that the landlord is accredited by Landlord Accreditation Scotland. This means that they offer good quality accommodation and operate to higher standards than other landlords and letting agents.
When you move into a privately rented property, your landlord should ask you to sign a tenancy agreement outlining the terms of your stay. A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord that sets out your rights to live in a rented property.
If renting from a letting agency, it is likely that you will have to choose either a six month or year long lease. Renting from a private owner instead of a letting agency, or moving in with other people that already have a flat will give you more flexibility in choosing how long you stay. It is important that you fully read and understand your tenancy agreement.
A tenancy agreement must include:
- the name of the landlord and the name of the tenant
- the address of the property to be rented
- the amount of rent to pay
- how long the lease is for (if this isn’t specified it will be assumed to be one year).
How can I make sure my tenancy agreement is fair? Your tenancy agreement should be written in simple language that you can easily understand. It shouldn’t contain any unfair terms. Examples of unfair terms might be a sentence stating that:
Unfair terms are not legally binding.
- your landlord can change the terms of the tenancy agreement whenever they like and that you will have to accept the new terms
- you have to pay for repairs that should be your landlord’s responsibility
- your landlord can enter the property whenever they like, without giving you notice.
Read our student guide to flat-renting in Edinburgh