Busting accommodation jargon

Wooden toy house with question marks appearing above

When you’re first looking for somewhere to live (on or off campus) there can be lots of new terms that you may not have come across before (or words that have an entirely different meaning in a housing context) so we’re here to help.

Tying in with our online accommodation applications opening last month, we thought we’d introduce our new Accommodation Jargon Buster covering some of these terms and why they are important to you.


Accommodation Agreement: At Kent our accommodation agreement is the document you agree to live by and follow whilst living in the accommodation which is paired with our Terms and Conditions. Information included is typically moving in and out dates, the condition you need to leave the accommodation in, payment and behaviour expectations. Off-campus this can also be called a contract or you could just have terms and conditions.

Catering package: an included or additional option for some daily cooked meals to be included/provided for you. See part-catered below.

Contract: Simply, this is the length of time that you are paying to live in your accommodation. Contract lengths vary so it’s always good to clarify exactly how long yours will be (especially when living off campus where many contracts will include the summer months). At Kent we match our contract lengths available to the academic term dates, however the contract length you will want will depend on if you are an undergraduate or postgraduate students and which accommodation you want to live in:

  • 31 weeks: Our shortest contract length is only available in our in Keynes College and Becket Court part-catered accommodation for undergraduates. It starts in September through to June but you will need to move out for the winter and spring vacation.
  • 37 weeks: Only available in our remaining undergraduate part-catered accommodations, Eliot College. It starts in September through to June but you will need to move out for the winter vacation.
  • 39 weeks: This is the contract that most undergraduate students will want – it covers from September – June, and as you’ll be living in a self-catered accommodation you don’t need to move out for the vacation periods. Some postgraduate students are also eligible for this contract
  • 45 weeks: Only available for KMMS students who have a longer academic year than other undergraduate courses. It runs from September – July and includes the vacation periods
  • 52 weeks: Suitable for postgraduate students, as it runs from September – September and includes all vacation periods.
  • Under 39 weeks: If you are a student on a short course or undertaking a year abroad, we have accommodation available to match your term dates.

Contract can also refer to the document you sign/agree to follow by whilst living at the property.

Fees or rent: yes this is what you’re going to pay, but where this can vary from what you’d expect to be included within this amount. For example many off-campus providers you will need to pay your rent/fees will only include the room itself – you (along with your flat mates) will need to set up and pay for any other utility bills (such as heating, electricity, Wi-Fi, water) separately on top of this. In our accommodation your fees/rent include your room, all utility bills, personal possessions insurance and a free sports membership.

First-come-first served: okay not a housing term at all but it is one that we use regularly across our site when talking about applying for accommodation. Essentially this means that we allocate rooms according to application date, to the earlier you apply the higher your chances of getting your top preferences. We always recommend applying early as there are no application or cancellation fees (before accepting an accommodation offer) and you can amend your application preferences as often as you like before 17 July.

Park Wood Flat kitchen with two students talking
Park Wood Flat, self-catered kitchen.

Fully-fitted kitchen:
this will typically mean you have access to a kitchen where all key appliances (such as cookers, fridge-freezers) are included in the kitchen for you. Sometimes this can also include smaller appliances such as kettles or microwaves, but will not include cooking equipment (such as saucepans, cutlery or crockery) so check what’s included in our on-campus rooms or with your accommodation provider off campus before moving in to avoid bring items you don’t need.

Guaranteed offer: We’re proud to be able to offer and accommodation offer promise that most of our students qualify for. As long as you must meet the conditions outlined you will be guaranteed to receive a room offer from us for the upcoming academic year. This does not guarantee that you will necessarily receive your first preference (this will depend on your application date) but that you will receive an accommodation offer from us.

Housekeeping: We know we don’t need to explain cleaning to you, but it is worth checking on and off campus if you are expected to clean the accommodation yourself or if this is done for you. It is most common on and off campus that you will need to for clean your own accommodation, and this is also true at Kent. You and your flatmates are responsible for keeping your accommodation clean, this includes your bedroom, en-suite or bathroom and kitchen. We provide cleaning equipment in all our student kitchen/kitchenettes when you move in (including cleaning solutions, cloth, vacuum cleaner and iron/ironing board). Each college has a Housekeeping team, they will keep communal areas (such as stairways and colleges) clean and also visit your accommodation once a term to provide a deep clean. They are also always on hand to offer support or advice.

Inventory: When you move in (and sometimes also when you leave) you’ll be asked to complete an inventory. This document is your opportunity to officially record the condition and contents of the room when you move in as this is the state you will be expected to return the accommodation to when you move out. Completing your inventory is very important as (whether you’re living on or off campus) it prevents you from being mistakenly charged for damage that you did not cause whilst living there.

Keynes College kitchenette
Keynes Colleges kitchenette, part-catered accommodation.

a kitchenette is an alternative to a fully fitted kitchen, typically much smaller and without cooking appliances included. On campus, all part-catered accommodations have kitchenettes which include a kettle and microwave and are suitable for making drinks and snacks. You can check what else is included in our on-campus rooms online.

Lifestyle moderate living: a type of housing offered at Kent for students who to select who would prefer a quieter living environment, with some moderated living rooms set aside in all accommodation areas.

Students living in moderated living areas are expected to adopt a calmer lifestyle in respect of alcohol, amplified music and sound, and the way in which they socialise within the accommodation. They’re not monitored more closely than other accommodation as by grouping likeminded people together, students are expected to self-manage their living environment to support this choice of lifestyle. We do not guarantee a permanently quiet or alcohol-free environment, but there are mechanisms for addressing those who persistently fail to live in accordance with expectations.

MyAccommodation Portal: also known as our application webpages: https://kenthospitality.kent.ac.uk/MyAccommodation. It is from here that you will apply for accommodation on campus as a new or returning student. You will also be able to log into your account (throughout your time living on campus) to download copies of important documents, accept your accommodation offer, complete your accommodation e-induction before arriving and check moving dates.

National Code of Assured Accommodation or The Student Accommodation Code (The SAC): these are two independent regulatory bodies the protect the rights of students to live in a quality accommodation. They each have regulations in place that providers need to meet to qualify and all universities or independent housing providers should be accredited by one of these two bodies.

Park Wood Twin bedroom
This Park Wood Flats twin room is one of the few campus accommodation options suitable for double occupancy.

The number of people that can live in your room. For example the majority of student accommodation is single occupancy meaning it is suitable for only one person to live in that room (although double occupancy rooms are available in studio and twin rooms). An occupancy period refers to the time/duration you are allowed to live in that room, (same as contract length).

Other accommodation requests: When applying for accommodation at Kent you will see an ‘other accommodation requests’ free text box. This is where you can add any other relevant information we may need for allocation, for example if you wish to live with a friend then you both need to include your full names and UCAS/student number here, any medical requirements or additional preferences such as single sex accommodation can also be added here. Whilst we will always try, we cannot guarantee that all information included here will be able to be met as this depends on availability and what other students have requested (for example if not enough students have asked for single sex accommodation to fill a flat/corridor in the area we cannot fill this request).

Part-catered: This means that some meals are included within the cost of your accommodation fees, typically this means that your accommodation will only have a kitchenette as some of your meals will be provided on site. We have two part-catered packages: Bed and Bistro (two meals a day provided during term-time) and Bed and Flex (two £6 daily credits to spend in outlets across campus). Becket Court, Eliot College and Keynes College are our three part-catered accommodation options. It is unlikely to be able to find a part-catered accommodation option available off campus, but if you live off campus or in self-catered accommodation but would like the convenience of some meals cooked for you then you can purchase the Flex Catering Plan separately.

Preferences: when applying for on campus accommodation at Kent you’ll be asked to complete up to four preferences. These are the four types of accommodation that you would be happy to live in on campus, of these four only up to two can be en-suite. It’s important to consider all four options as whilst we will always start at the top of your preference list it is possible that your top options could be full and we need to move down your list meaning you could be allocated in any of your preferences depending on availability (this is also why your should consider en-suite and shared-facilities options equally). Other than applying early, another top tip when it comes to preferences is to space them out and not select multiple room types within the same college – for example don’t select an extra-large room in Turing Flats and a standard room in Turing Flats as your two en-suite choices as if Turing Flats are full we will have to pick your next available preference (which in this instance would be a shared-facilities).

Returner accommodation: rooms that are available for students in their second or third year (returning students) to live in, available both on and off campus. At Kent returning students can apply for any accommodation option except Turing College which is reserved for first year students, however it is uncommon for returning students to be housed with new students and avoided wherever possible unless specifically requested by both/all parties. Returning students can also apply to live with friends.

Room allocation: This is one of ours – separate from the question of if you’re guaranteed a room offer, room allocation refers to the process our team go through when placing students into their rooms on campus. All rooms are allocated on a first-come first-served basis sorted on your original application date (with all guarantee offers allocated from earliest to latest before moving on to allocate late or non-guarantee offers). Typically we finish the allocation process before we start sending out accommodation offers via email – so don’t worry if you haven’t received your offer email in our first batch, this doesn’t affect the room you are going to be offered as room placement has already been set by this point. You can read more about our room allocation procedure on our dedicated blog.

Room offer: aka accommodation offer. Your room offer is the room we have allocated you to and where you will live for the next year should you accept it. You will receive your offer of accommodation by email once your place at Kent becomes unconditional (typically after the examination results are announced in the summer) so make sure you’ve used a current email address and remember to check it regularly. You’ll need to accept your offer or contact the Accommodation Office within seven days. If you don’t like your offer – don’t just reject it or let it expire as this will deactivate your application. Instead contact the Accommodation Team to discuss if any room moves are available or what your options are.

Self-catered: No meals are included within the cost of your accommodation fees, instead your accommodation should have a fully-fitted kitchen you can access to prepare and cook food for yourself. This kitchen may be shared with your flat mates. Most of our accommodation is a self-catered but you can also purchase a separate Flex Catering Plan if you would still like some meals cooked for you.

Keynes House bathroom
Keynes House bathroom, shared facilities.

As opposed to en-suite accommodation, shared facilities refers to multiple students sharing the same toilet/shower facilities. The ratio of students to toilet/shower facilities will vary depending on where you live both on and off campus so it’s a good idea to have a look around to find a level you are comfortable with. Just remember whether you’re living on or off campus having an en-suite (private shower/toilet) is something you will pay a premium for so don’t immediately rule anything else out as sharing can be more cost effective and in some cases not be with many students (e.g. 2:1 in Turing and Keynes Houses). If you’re looking at private rented accommodation then most of these will be shared facilities whilst independent student housing providers typically offer more en-suite accommodation. At Kent we do have both with 60% of our rooms on campus being en-suite.

Vacation accommodation: if you need to stay in your accommodation during a period not covered by your contract you’ll need to apply for vacation accommodation. Common areas not covered by contracts are the winter, spring or summer vacations, and you can typically book all or part of this period. Depending on where you live you may not be able to stay in your room during this period but you will be provided with an alternative option


Think we’re missed a term? Let us know by DM’ing us via our Facebook or Twitter pages or commenting here and we’ll get it added. If you have any questions about your applying be sure to check our our website, join one of our live events, or get in touch.

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