Housing matters

The following information highlights some common concerns and addresses how to deal with them.

Don't Rush to rent!

You might be tempted to sign up for accommodation as early as possible for the next academic year but don't rush - take a breather and take time to think. If you sign a tenancy agreement, it is a legally-binding document, which means you will be liable for the rent for the whole of the contract, even if your circumstances change. For example, you might not get your expected grades and need to repeat a module (no attendance required) and you won't be eligible for the student funding that you would normally use to cover the rent. If you can't afford it, the provider will expect your guarantor to pay the rent. So, take your time and only commit to a tenancy agreement if you know your situation isn't likely to change. Check the small print for the total charged for the year and the payment schedule - providers often expect you to pay a large instalment over the summer before you get your student funding. Don't be tempted to opt for a premium, expensive property - if you have no money left to live on, find a cheaper alternative.

Rent arrears

It is always best to keep your landlord informed if there is going to be any delay in paying rent. You can also get advice from DMU Money Advice about how to approach your landlord.

Are you being asked to leave your property? If an agreement cannot be reached over rent arrears payments, the landlord may threaten eviction. The landlord must serve a ‘Notice to Quit’ on the tenant giving a timescale. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord may then go to court to apply for a ‘Notice Seeking Possession’. There will be a timescale on this for the tenant. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can go to court to obtain an ‘Eviction Order’. An eviction cannot legally take place unless the above process is followed. Attempting to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent without a court order is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

If you need advice regarding eviction, please contact a Welfare Officer:
T: (0116) 257 7595, select option 3, then select option 4
E: sfw@dmu.ac.uk

Council Tax

Full-time students are eligible to claim Council Tax exemption from your local Council, proof of your student status is required. In most cases your Council will automatically be notified by DMU of your eligibility, therefore there is no need for you to request a certificate. Twice a year; end of October, end of March, DMU’s Student Funding team produces a list of all full-time students to the following councils to notify them of eligible students living in their local authority area:

  • Hinckley and Bosworth District Council
  • Market Harborough District Council
  • Oadby and Wigston Borough Council
  • North West Leicester District Council
  • Leicester City Council.

If you DO NOT live in one of the above areas, you can download a Council Tax Exemption Certificate from the MyDMU hub.

Please note: it's the student's responsibility to ensure we hold your current full postal address. If your address is incorrect on the University’s records, the documentation we provide will be wrong and you won't be automatically exempt. You can update your address via myDMU at any time.

Some Landlords/Letting Agents may request a certificate in advance of you moving into a property. You can only obtain a certificate when you are enrolled. First Year students will need to provide the Offer Letter and then provide a Council Tax Exemption Certificate once they have enrolled.

Students living with non-students (student is exempt but property is liable) and Part-time students are not exempt, but might be eligible for a reduction if you are on a low income. If you are a Distance Learner or a 'writing-up' student, please use the contact details below to determine if you are eligible.

For households where there is only one 'non-student adult', apply for Single-Occupancy Discount. Parents/Partner looking to attain the Single Occupancy Discount can request a Council Tax Certificate for these purposes.

Contact the staff in the Student Gateway, ground floor of Gateway House
T: 0116 257 7595 (select option 3, then select option 1)
E: studentgateway@dmu.ac.uk

Household bills

Energy bills: Energy suppliers can't cut you off if you are struggling to pay, they need to discuss a payment plan. Have a look at the information from the following organisations: Citizens AdviceTurn2Us, StepChange and OFGEM.
TIP: paying by direct debit could be as much as 9% cheaper than paying by monthly receipt-of-bill.
TIP: try the Money Saving Boiler Challenge on your combi boiler to save money.
TIP: every degree you lower on your boiler thermostat could reduce your bill by 10% and remember to bleed your radiators, if they have trapped air, they won't heat up well, then top-up the boiler pressure afterwards.
TIP: how you cook can save money - cookers are the most expensive to run, slow cookers are 80% cheaper, then air fryers are cheaper still, with microwaves being the cheapest option. Unplug your microwave after use, otherwise it's just an expensive clock (you could save £16.37 a year by not leaving it on standby).

Do you think your price increase is too high? On average we may be charged double the amount from a year ago. Some reasons that your bill might have suddenly spiked from 1st October 2022:

  • if you were on a cheap-fixed-deal that has ended, it would increase more
  • if you have large debts/ arrears you can expect to see your direct debit go up
  • are you submitting regular meter readings, or is your smart meter working? An estimated bill could be wrong
  • companies like British Gas and EDF only re-assess direct debit amounts once or twice a year, so that could explain if it goes up drastically in the near future. You can ask to increase your direct debit before their review if you wish.

You have a right to a fair direct debit under the energy firm's licenced agreement. Talk to your supplier first, failing that, consult the energy ombudsman. If you know how much energy you are using, you can use Money Saving Expert's online calculator.

Energy Price Cap on utility bills: OFGEM's Energy Price Cap is currently £1,834 from 1st October to 31st December 2023, for a typical household paying gas and electricity via direct debit. This cap reflects the recent fall in wholesale energy prices. It is important to note that this caps the UNIT cost - if you use less units, you will be charged less - if you use more units, you will be charged more. The standing charge is increasing and the unit rate is falling, which means lower users of energy are likely to pay a bit more, higher users could find they are paying a bit less.

Government support with the rising cost of living: the Help for Households website lists what support is available to help with the cost of living and gives energy saving tips to save money. Households on low-income benefits are currently receiving an additional £900 government support in cost-of-living payments via three instalments:

  • £301 (should have been paid between 25 April - 17 May 2023)
  • £300 (due to be paid between 31 October - 19 November 2023)
  • £299 (due to be paid in Spring 2024)

If you claim certain disability benefits you should have received an additional £150 one-off, cost-of-living payment, paid between 20 June 2023 and 4 July 2023. If you didn't receive it, you can complete a missing cost of living online form.

Council Tax: Most students are exempt but if you are paying Council Tax and struggling, check with your local authority, as some councils might provide a discretionary fund.

 Other forms of support:

  • Act on Energy encourages energy conservation by providing free and impartial advice on energy bills, fuel debt, tariff switching, grant availability, to households in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and surrounding local areas.

  • British Gas: Peak Save Sundays half price electricity between 11am - 4pm on Sundays until 31st December 2023. You would need to sign up and have a smart meter.
  • British Gas Energy Trust: you don't have to be a British Gas customer, but you do need to follow their process of seeking advice before applying for a grant.

  • Broadband: BT Home Essentials and Virgin Media Essentials £15 a month broadband for those on certain benefits. Talk Talk are offering 6 months free broadband for those on JSA, the Jobcentre Plus work coach will assess your eligibility and, if approved, will supply a referral code for you to contact Talk Talk to arrange installation.

  • Cold Weather Payment: the 2023-24 scheme will start on 1st November 2023. You should be able to check if your area is due a payment in November 2023.

  • Coventry City Council cost of living website has lots of information, including the Household Support Fund for those struggling with buying food, paying energy and water bills.

  • Leicester City Council: provides help with a fuel arrears voucher scheme and a Household Support Scheme.

  • National Energy Action: a charity set up to increase support for the most vulnerable people with energy bills.

  • Save Water Save Money: put your postcode in to see what freebies you can get.

  • Warm Home Discount: you could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter, October 2022 - March 2023, if you are on a low income or pension credit.

  • Winter Fuel Payment: between £100 to £300 towards heating bills. Deadline to claim for this winter (if aged 66 and over) is 31st March 2024.

Help with food costs:

  • Healthy Start: if you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. Your benefit will be added onto this card every 4 weeks.
  • Coventry City Council: Coventry food help for families and Household Support Fund, along with links to social supermarkets and food banks. Your child may be eligible for free school meals.
  • Leicester City Council: provides lots of information. Buy food at deeply discounted prices, join a cook club, kids eat free at the Stocking Farm Community Shop. Your child may be eligible for free school meals.  
  • Trolley: compare prices in over 15 supermarkets, discover daily deals, and create smart shopping lists to save as much as 30% on your next grocery trip.
  • Olio: downloading the app can connect you with local businesses, so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.
  • Too Good To Go: downloading the app lets customers buy and collect Magic Bags of food at a great price, directly from businesses, that would normally go to waste.

TV Licence

Students who watch any programmes live or on demand, without a TV Licence, risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. This includes watching programmes on devices such as your laptop, PC, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD recorder or anything else. Your hall's licence won’t cover you, and you may not be covered by your parents’ licence. Don’t get caught out! Visit the TV Licensing website to find out if you need a licence.

Getting a refund: if you move out of your term-time address for the summer months, you can request a refund for the cost of the licence for that time, which could be around £37. As long as your licence is still valid for at least three full calendar months and you don’t need it again before it expires.