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What Is Private Student Accommodation?
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What Is Private Student Accommodation?

Written by Sam | October 25, 2020

Private student accommodation can be taken in a few different ways and can be a little confusing, so I will look to distinguish the differences to help you know the difference.

Private Purpose Built Student Accommodation

Purpose Built Student Accommodation or (PBSA) as it is known as. This is where there are big blocks of studios, flats and apartments, however, they are usually made up of studios with communal areas on the lower levels.

These spaces are usually located in the central areas of the city and are managed or owned by a private company. If they are managed then it could be there one year and managed by someone else another, if they own it, it will be there for a long period of time, unless they sell it.

In PBSA you will get an accommodation manager and have a lot of added extras such as:

  • Accommodation manager
  • Bills included
  • Contents insurance
  • Gym / Cinema / Study area
  • Events
  • Bikes

There will be lots of different things that they will have, but, one of the best features of these spaces is the security. They have CCTV, key fob access on the very front doors and accommodation manager and then a key for your own room. It offers a lot of protection.

The only downsides for me on these can be the price tags and the limiting factors of location, as in you may like one provider, but they only have location with lots of beds.

Private Rented / Private Student Housing

These are houses, studios or anything that you rent from a local letting agent or landlord. These student houses tend to only be in the local area and not in multiple areas like the PBSA providers.

These are generally the most popular options with students because they fit the student budget a bit more, however, two of the biggest compromises that are made here are quality and service usually.

With a local letting agent and landlord, the service can differ dramatically depending on who you stay with and some will have a great time and others may not have a good year and want to move out.

A lot of houses are fitted out to a basic level and even though this is changing ever so slowly, you will still find a lot of landlords and letting agent refuse to do a higher specification because ‘students will wreck it’. As I say this is changing slowly and this is because of a mix of the PBSA market and other letting agents completing high standard.

In terms of service, with the companies that manage multiple blocks, they will have a consistent approach throughout all their blocks in multiple cities, however, for letting agents there will be a lot of similarities yet a lot of variances as well.

What I do really like about letting agents and landlords though are:

  • They aren’t bound by big company policies
  • Student housing can be better than PBSA
  • You have a lot more options over the type of house & location
  • You can get bills included if you want
  • Rent is less generally
  • It’s usually a local company with simple processes

The Best Way To Find These Places

If you are searching for private student accommodation, then you can read some tips on another article about finding student accommodation for second-year students however in short:

  • Research is key, make sure you have a look at what is available
  • Always view, whether that is virtual or physical – this will answer a lot of questions
  • Read the tenancy – They are very similar but will all have different requirements
  • Deposits – Make sure that you understand where it goes and the chances of getting it back
  • Always look for quality – That’s in the service and in the house itself.


When people say private rented, they generally mean from a letting agent or landlord. This is because the alternative is to live in PBSA or halls, which are owned by the university or managed by PBSA providers.

Letting agents and landlord still make up a high percentage of the market currently in the student world, but that is changing due to the amount of PBSA blocks being built.

Living with a letting agent or landlord is currently more cost friendly for students on a budget.

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