Finding private accommodation: advice for international students

Updated on 22 April 2024

Advice for if you're moving to the UK and are not using University arranged accommodation, or are moving from University housing to private

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Renting privately

DUSA | The Union have prepared guides and advice on matters related to private accommodation and housing matters. This includes:

  • explaining your rights and responsibilities as a tenant
  • advice on your landlord’s rights and responsibilities
  • help with inventory and deposits
  • advice on repair issues

Important information for new Arrivals

Before you leave home

We are aware that some students are currently having difficulty in finding accommodation. We recommend that you do as much research as possible before you leave home, and ensure that you have arranged accommodation before you arrive in Dundee.

If you are hoping to share a private house or flat with other students, vacancies are advertised on the DUSA Housing Facebook page.

For general accommodation queries, contact the International Student Accommodation Co-ordinator on:

Limited availability of private accommodation in Dundee

Whilst most of our students prefer to live very close to the University, Dundee is a compact city with a very reliable and affordable public transport network. If you haven’t already done so, we would encourage you to widen your search to consider private accommodation outside the city centre. There are regular buses from all parts of Dundee to the city centre, many of which pass close by the University’s city campus.

Failing that, you can search Angus, Perth and Fife, all accessible by bus and/or train. There are maps and timetables available on Xplore Dundee, a local bus services web site, and Scotrail, Scotland's rail network.

Town/city Distance from Dundee  Average travel time to Dundee (public transport)
Arbroath   18 miles 

Bus - 45 minutes

Train - 17 minutes

Carnoustie   14 miles

Bus - 50 minutes

Train - 16 minutes

Forfar 14 miles Bus - 38 minutes
Kinross  36 miles Bus - 45 minutes
Monifieth 7 miles

Bus - 37 minutes

Train - 10 minutes

Montrose 30 miles

Bus - 1 hour 8 minutes

Train - 34 minutes

Newport-on-Tay 3 miles Bus - 22 minutes
Perth 21 miles

Bus - 40 minutes

Train - 22 minutes

Tayport 5 miles  Bus - 33 minutes

Temporary accommodation

If you prefer to wait until you arrive in Dundee before signing up to a rental property, make sure you have temporary accommodation booked for when you arrive. There are plenty of hotels and small bed and breakfasts close to the University campus. There are some hotels that provide discounted rates for University of Dundee students.  You can find more information on the Visit Scotland webpages.

During your first week you will meet people who will be happy to share information with you and help point you in the right direction.

Other Options

There may the opportunity to book a room to stay as a lodger in local homes for a short period of time. If lodgings are available they will be advertised on SpareRoom for flatshare, house share, flat share & rooms for rent.


Be aware you may need to stay in temporary accommodation or a hotel for longer than anticipated. We recommend you consider this additional expense when deciding the budget for your living costs.

We are aware that increasingly, agencies and landlords are asking for payment of rent in advance to secure a property, so please consider this when determining your budget.

Finding property to rent

There are many websites advertising property for rent, and although the adverts may look ideal, they may not be legitimate. Therefore, it's important you don’t rush in to paying money without verifying that the advert is legitimate and the company, owner, or landlord is genuine. For advice contact Housing Advice - DUSA or

Be very careful when booking private accommodation: 

  • We recommend you arrange accommodation through a reputable landlord or letting agency.
  • Ensure you can view the property and read the contract very carefully before you sign it.
  • If you choose to rent a private flat or house, we recommend you wait to arrange a tenancy contract until you have arrived in Dundee.  

Recent scam: students have been asked to pay 12 months’ rent in advance.  This is illegal, please do not agree.

Bringing your family to Dundee

If you are bringing your family to Scotland, we recommend that you arrive in Dundee alone and have them join you once you've found suitable accommodation.

University Residences do not provide family accommodation. 

If as a last resort, you feel you need to consider deferring your place because you are bringing a young family with you, please email our Admissions Team and they will look sympathetically on individual circumstances.

Finding a referee and paying a deposit

Ideally you should provide a UK-based referee. If you have stayed in University residences, you can request a reference from the Residences office. If you stayed in private accommodation, contact your previous landlord.

If you don't have a UK referee, you might be asked to pay up to two months' rent as a deposit instead of the usual one. You cannot be asked to pay a deposit which is greater than two months' rent. 

Finding a guarantor

A guarantor is a third party who agrees to take on liabilities arising from someone else’s tenancy. This means that they guarantee rent payments and other tenancy obligations, for example, landlord losses, expenses, or damages.

A guarantor is not a legal requirement, but there is nothing to stop landlords or letting agents from insisting on one. Some landlords will insist any guarantor be UK based. If you are unable to provide a guarantor acceptable to the landlord, you will need to consider another landlord. Some landlords will take rent in advance in place of the guarantor. The maximum allowable for this is six months in a Private Residential Tenancy.

If you are unable to provide a UK-based guarantor you may be able to apply for the University to act as a guarantor, subject to eligibility requirements.

Further source of help

For general accommodation queries, contact the International Student Accommodation Co-ordinator on:

Further reading

Advice on private accommodation from DUSA | The Union