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Immigration Act and Right to Rent (England) | Types of Tenancies (England)

HMO rooms for students on a 3-month work placement

20 May 2016 | 2 comments

We have two Chinese students, studying at a British university, who want rooms in an HMO of ours for a 3-month work placement, with the rent apparently being paid by the university. Am I correct in thinking that a contractual tenancy, rather than an AST, is applicable here? Is there anything else that we need to be aware of / do differently from usual?



  1. guildy

    Even though the university might be paying, I assume they will pay the tenants who in turn pay you? The main point is I assume the university isn’t renting from you and then effectively subletting to the students? As long as the students are “the tenants” then that part is fine for an AST.

    That leaves the question as to whether the property is their “only or principal home”. This can be a difficult question to answer.

    If we take a more regular situation where perhaps somebody is working in an area for several months but they return at weekends back to their home, this would almost certainly be a contractual tenancy.

    Here though, I wonder if for the period of work it is in fact their “principal” home. Yes, their home in China will become their principal home when they return but I do wonder if it remains so during the 3 months. It’s difficult to know for sure.

    A regular student letting (for 10 months or so) has been held to be the students principal home even though they may return to their parents during holiday periods.

    Because there is uncertainty (frankly it could be 50/50 either way), I would err on the side of caution and give an AST. I accept this might not be correct but on balance I think it is because of the lack of returning home ever during the 3 month period. Also, an AST gives the tenant the most security and protection of all. Therefore, at worst, you will have given more security to the tenant than you needed to. It would be worse to give a contractual tenancy and then find it should have been an AST.

    Therefore, assuming they are the tenants, paying rent (where they get the rent from is irrelevant) I think give an AST.

    Don’t forget to conduct right to rent checks

  2. brumhomes

    Thanks – I’ve taken your advice from an earlier question and added a “Will this be your only or main home in the UK?” field to our application form, so we’ll do an AST unless they give a clear “no” to that, e.g. if they tell us they’ll be returning to Lancaster most weekends.

    It was the students themselves who approached us, we haven’t had any contact with the university at all yet, and the tenancy agreements will definitely not involve subletting; if that’s what the university insists on then we’ll turn them down.

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