Before you start looking for houses or rooms it's a good idea to identify which areas you need to be looking in. The college or university that you are going to study in should be able to give you a list of areas that are close to where you are going to study. They may even have lists of landlords that deal especially with foreign students. This is often the best way to get accommodation, as overseas students very often get the nicest houses. 

Other options are that you could phone a few letting agencies or look through a website such as to give yourself some idea of the types of accommodation and the prices in those areas.

Please don't be shocked at the rent being charged, especially if you are looking in London.

The rental market is extremely fast moving in some areas. Rental accommodation may go in a matter of hours, so you need to be prepared and act quickly. It is however not much good looking too far in advance as most landlords and agents will want someone within a month. 

If this sounds like too much hard work, there are ways of reducing the amount of shoe leather you use up. This involves using an agent to find a place to live. They will charge between £80 and £120 for this service. There are two types of property agencies that you can use: letting and accommodation. 

Accommodation agents will deal with property with shared facilities, e.g. bed sits and flat/house shares. You agree a budget with them and chose the areas you want to live. They will only charge you their fee when you have found a suitable place. 

Letting Agents deal with self contained units e.g. flats and houses. They deal directly with the landlords so you don't pay the agency fee, but you will be charged for them following up references and other paperwork. 

If you are looking for accommodation through an accommodation agency you should not be asked for any payment to see a list of properties on their books, or to register your needs: accommodation agencies cannot legally charge for these services. (Accommodation Agencies Act 1953) 

Look for agents who are members of the government-backed National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) which offers consumer protection for tenants and landlords. For details call +44 (0)1926 496683. 

As with anything that involves money there are a number of common sense tips for you to follow. Before any contracts are exchanged a landlord or agent will probably ask you for a deposit. This is to cover any damages or unpaid rent during the period of the contract. The amount will vary, but generally it will be a retainer plus one month's rent in advance. 

In most cases this amounts to a considerable sum of money, therefore it is important with private rentals to verify the identity of the landlord before you hand over the money. 

Make sure that you are dealing with the actual owner of the property, especially when you are requested to pay a large deposit before occupying the premises. 

Always ask for a receipt for money exchanged, together with the landlord's address and telephone number for future contact. If you are dealing with an agency then it is advisable to pay the money to the agency, rather than the landlord. 

On a matter of personal safety: if you are going to view a property take someone with you, and call to make sure the landlord will be there. 

To stand a good chance of getting your deposit back, here's what you should do:

When you move in if you notice any damage that is already there, make sure you bring the agent's attention to it. The best thing is to put it in writing and keep a copy, that way you shouldn't be charged for anything that was done before you moved in.

The inventory is the list of what items come as part of the rental agreement. You should check through this carefully and make sure that everything that is on the inventory is there. If not, make sure that the agent is aware, as you can be charged for items missing of an inventory list when you leave.

Finding accommodation is never easy, but if you persevere and follow the advice given, we hope that you find a new home that suits all your needs. With LOOT's help, you should find the perfect place first time.