18 Apr 2023 | Location: Sheffield, Nottingham

Signing a contract can be scary, especially if you don’t really understand what is being asked of you . But as it’s a legal contract, you need to know what to look out for and what is expected of you.

Below we’ve outlined some key elements to think about before signing a contract.


Type of contract

Firstly, you need to know what the contract type means. You’ll likely be signing an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST), but within this, some providers offer an individual contract which is between the student and the landlord and others offer a joint tenancy agreement.

A joint agreement means that if you’re in a shared property and one of your flatmates doesn’t pay their rent, then you’ll all be liable to make sure this is paid. Whereas with an individual agreement, the contract is just between you and the landlord and you’re only responsible for the areas outlined in your contract and for your own individual rent, nobody else’s.

At Acis Students, all of our contracts are individual agreements, so you know that you only have your own rent to think about.  

Deposits / booking fees

Make sure you understand what you’re paying and what happens to the money. Some providers will ask you to pay a deposit, which will be held and protected by a third-party provider.

If you leave the accommodation clean and tidy with no damage and your rent all paid in full, then you’re likely to get all of this money back. If not, then they will make a claim against your deposit, and you may get part or none of the money back.

At Acis Students we are asking for a booking fee from our 23-24 bookings instead of the usual deposit, which will be taken from the rent. This means you don’t pay any additional fees and won’t need to wait to receive a deposit back. This is not paid in addition to rent so were not charging you any extra. If there is any damage to the property, then you’ll be invoiced for the cost instead.

It’s important that you understand what you’re paying and when.

Rent and providing a guarantor

The same also goes for rent payments. You need to make sure you can afford the accommodation before making any applications for a room, but then you need to double check this at the point of signing the contract. You don’t want to end up tied into a contract that you can’t afford. Remember, this is a legal binding document, and providers can refer to debt collectors should you have outstanding rent payments to make.

When you accept a booking, you’ll likely be asked to provide a UK based guarantor who will guarantee the rent for you. This means that in the event that you can’t pay, your guarantor will be asked to do so on your behalf. They will need to sign a legal binding document to state that they can be a guarantor, and they’ll need to provide evidence for this before they are accepted and before your contract goes ahead. If you don’t provide a guarantor, then you likely won’t be accepted for the room. Some providers allow you to not provide a guarantor, but typically you’d need to pay the year’s rent upfront.

There are also external providers who can help you if you don’t have anyone who can stand as a guarantor for you, Housing Hand being one of them.

At Acis Students we will ask you to provide us with a UK based guarantor should you be paying in instalments. If you are able to make one full payment of rent, then you won’t need to provide us with a guarantor, but the rent will need to be paid before your move-in.

Moving in and out

Make sure you know your move-in and move-out dates and that these work for you. You may want to ask the provider about their summer booking policy, though they might not know their plans for this until later in the academic year. If the contract is too long, then ask the provider if you’re able to shorten it, but it’s very likely that they’ll only have a set contract period and that this request will be denied.

Our contract period at Acis Students is a standard 44 weeks for undergraduates, or 51 weeks for postgraduate students, though we do often allow students to extend into the summer if they require.

Ending your contract

Remember, this is a binding contract, so even if you drop out of university, you’re not guaranteed to be released from your contract if you’re with an external accommodation provider.

Leaving the accommodation and handing your key back doesn’t automatically mean that you’re released from contract, so keep this in mind when deciding which university to go to and when signing your contract.

If you do wish to leave for any reason, you can typically contact the provider and ask to be released, in which case they will follow their own procedures, but often this process can take a few weeks and you’ll need to provide evidence to support your reason for leaving. Make sure you work with the provider on this and be organised, request to leave well in advance of actually leaving site as this makes the process easier for everyone.

Make sure to reach out for the relevant support at the university or at Acis Students before making an application, they may be able to help and you might not need to vacate.


Hopefully the above information helps you when deciding which accommodation to choose and will help you to understand the contract better.

If you’re looking to become an Acis Students tenant and have questions about the contract or any of the processes, please contact the relevant site using the details below.


Raleigh Park (Nottingham):


0115 855 9008


The Trigon (Sheffield):


0114 294 5680

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