Uniplaces: Student Accommodation in Portugal & Beyond (Resource)

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Uniplaces is an accommodation website that’s makes it easy to find student accommodation in cities around the world. It’s primarily aimed at students, but you don’t have to be a student to use it: anyone can book a bed, room, or entire apartment through Uniplaces.com.

(Uniplaces are giving Portugalist readers a chance to save money on their next booking. Simply use the code PORTUGALIST when booking, and you’ll get a 10% discount off your order.)

Uniplaces has actually been on my radar for a while. First of all, it’s a Portuguese startup and that’s exciting! Uniplaces is based near Rossio in Lisbon, and it’s great to see a Portuguese startup doing so well. You can find student accommodation all over Europe with Uniplaces, but particularly in Madrid, Rome, Valencia, Milan, London, Munich, and Berlin. In Portugal, Uniplaces is primarily concentrated on Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra – Portugal’s main student cities.

Another reason I’m familiar with Uniplaces is that I have considered using them for a medium to long-term rental in Lisbon. As mentioned, anyone can use Uniplaces and I did like the look of quite a few properties on the site. Airbnb has gotten so ridiculously expensive for medium and long-term lets in Lisbon and Porto, and so I’ve been checking out a few other sites like Spotahome, Nestpick, and Uniplaces.

I’m probably not the only non-student who’s looking at Uniplaces either. There are an increasing number of digital nomads or location-independent professionals moving to Lisbon (or thinking about it), and in search of accommodation.

From looking at their listings, I think Uniplaces is probably cheaper than Airbnb overall. It’s aimed at students, yes, but I didn’t think the accommodation on Uniplaces was any worse than a lot of the more affordable options on Airbnb. It’s certainly on par; if not slightly better than most of the Airbnbs with affordable monthly rates.

Of course, renting privately would be cheaper. Sites like OLX.pt and Sapo.pt will list hundreds of apartments for long-term (and occasionally medium-term) rent. Uniplaces just makes it easier to find those apartments, particularly if you’re not currently in Lisbon.

But, even without the discount code, I was able to find one-bedroom apartments in Lisbon for as little as €400-600. Bedrooms were slightly cheaper. I found a couple for less than €250, with all of the bills included.

Having all your bills included, especially when you’re renting an entire apartment is very helpful for those who have just moved to Portugal e.g. Erasmus students and digital nomads. It’s hard enough trying to organise an apartment, but having to deal with the gas and electricity companies makes it even more challenging. Even more challenging is getting an internet connection for just 3-6 months. Renting a place where everything is included cuts down a lot of that hassle.

Uniplaces’ service fees are slightly cheaper than the likes of Airbnb as well, although only if you rent long-term. While Airbnb, Wimdu, HouseTrip, and all of the other major short-term accommodation websites charge service fees every month, Uniplaces only charges the service fee once. For an apartment, this is usually around €250. That’s expensive if you only stay for one month, but only €20-40 per month if you stay 6-12 months.

Although Uniplaces is probably cheaper than Airbnb and most other accommodation sites, there’s definitely one area where Uniplaces falls short: reviews of the apartments and hosts. It’s still a relatively new website, and most of the properties have no reviews yet. Those that do only have one or two reviews.

While some people are happy to book a property that has no reviews, I am always a little bit cautious. A good landlord (or landlady) can make or break a property, and I like to know what I’m getting into.

I also want to know a little bit about the property itself. Is it noisy? How’s the internet? Does everything work okay? What are the neighbours like?

Similarly, I couldn’t find many reviews of Uniplaces online. There was a mixture of reviews on TrustPilot and a couple of other sites: some good and some bad. At the time of writing, Uniplaces scored an 8.2 out of 10. If anyone has used Uniplaces, and would like to share their experience, please leave a review in the comments below.

Join The Conversation

  1. Uniplaces borders on being a scam. They spend extraordinary energy on misleading the consumer.

    Here’s what they WANT you to think they offer:
    – a trustworthy intermediary for money transfer
    – support in case anything goes wrong.

    Here’s what Uniplaces ACTUALLY offers for their fee:
    – a website showing houses

    Once you transfer your money, there are no refunds. You’re trusting the goodwill of some random landlord on the internet. For anyone having rented houses anywhere in the world, that’s a recipe for trouble. Since Uniplaces doesn’t actually offer any support, it would be smarter to have no intermediary, and no money on the line if something goes wrong.

    Uniplaces advertises a ’24 money return policy’, but read about that experience from other users. The landlord might not let you check in until the evening you booked, leaving you with only a few hours total to try to secure the refund if anything is not right, which is what happened with us. The place smelled like sewage, was dirty and obviously hadn’t been rented in a long time. We just had to shut up and accept whatever conditions were presented to us.

    They advertise that it is ‘safe and secure’ for transferring money and no money is exchanged between tenant and landlord. Read the fine print. You’ll still be handing over cash to landlords for deposits and every month of rent after you move in. Landlords won’t bother giving you a receipt, because they don’t have to. Once you pay Uniplaces, you’re playing by the landlord’s rules. You have no tenant rights because you didn’t sign a contract. Remember, no refunds?

    Uniplaces will definitely respond to you if you have an issue. But it’s like dealing with a politician – read their responses to bad reviews. They will avoid any responsibility, at any cost. They will take zero real-world action to solve any problem for you. When we had issues, they just aggravated the landlord, making the situation much worse for us. In the end, I notice the strategy is to blame the tenant to avoid giving their fee back.

    If you rent through Uniplaces, things might go OK. But don’t be fooled. There is no protection for you, and zero value for the outrageous fee they charge. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

    I felt disgusted, tricked and taken advantage of after renting with them. Once we sent the money, we had problems with the landlord right away. When we contacted Uniplaces, it become very obvious what Uniplaces actually does, or doesn’t. It’s a website for landlords and a corporation to cash in by taking advantage of people desperate to find housing. Absolutely disgusting.

    We learned the hard way, and we got out of there as fast as we could. I wish I had listened to all the bad reviews I saw before going through a month with an exploitive landlord and a dirty uncomfortable apartment. And it could have been so much worse!

    • Hi Al,

      Thanks for your review of Uniplaces and sorry you had to go through that. I have read a lot of bad reviews from people using Uniplaces and will be trying to work out what to do – is it best to leave it up here and let people leave reviews, or is it better to take it off completely?

      Thanks again for taking the time to leave a review.

  2. Great idea in principle, major problem in practice is availability in Lisbon. These experiences are from around March 2018, it is possible things have improved, but approach with caution!

    Most of the “available” places are not – they have already been rented out through another site (or even through Uniplaces, they are very bad at updating availability)

    So you look through lots of places, find the perfect one for you, make a “booking request” and then either you hear nothing, or you get a Not Available cancellation, or you get an offer to book for a short period only (which is bad given the fixed fee).

    Uniplaces advise you to make several booking requests at once and the first place that responds with a “yes” will be confirmed. But that is a terrible customer experience – not actually knowing which place you will be committing to for a long term rental!

    If you are desperate (we were when first moving here) then it is at least a bit cheaper than Air bnb. But it took us about 15 booking requests, lots of stress and we ended up having to move out for a week in the middle of the booking because the place had been booked for a short term rental.

    The place we had looked great in the pictures, but had serious damp and mould. We were scared to leave a bad review because we wanted our deposit back (we eventually got it back after almost two months of constant chasing).

    Idealista is a much better option for long term rentals. But it is harder work – you really have to be ready to call immediately an advert appears.

    • Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your review of Uniplaces.

      I wasn’t aware that you had to put through so many booking requests, and I can see why you wouldn’t want the first one to reply to be the one that you end up with. I would also have expected you to get your deposit back quicker after checking out.

      Damp and mould isn’t that unusual in Portugal, in fairness. Last winter was very wet, and so a lot of places would have had that black mould. You just have to keep on top of it with either bleach or vinegar, but there’s not a lot that can be done about it. If you’d found somewhere through another site like Idealista, there’s a good chance you would have ended up with somewhere that has mould as well. Sadly, just a fact of life in Portuguese buildings.


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