There is plenty of good quality and affordable student housing in Sheffield available throughout the year. There are also a number of accreditation and housing standards schemes which you can look out for. These may help you find a reputable landlord or agent and ensure that your next property meets the required health and safety standards.
Look out for SNUG certified properties and ask landlords if their properties meet the SNUG standard, if they do the SNUG logo should be advertised on their websites. This is a student accommodation standard run by Sheffield City Council in partnership with both Universities and Students’ Unions in the city. Properties which are part of this scheme will have been inspected and assessed for fire, gas and electrical safety, security and amenity standards, repairs and maintenance. The landlord will also have to abide by a strict code of management. Further details can be found here.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and licensing Properties with at least three storeys which are occupied by at least five people must be licensed by the council. The properties will have to meet stringent safety and amenity standards to be issued with a licence and landlords can be fined if they let a property without a licence. If you are thinking of signing for a property which meets these criteria you can check to see if it is licensed at www.sheffield.gov.uk/hmo If the property does not have a licence, be cautious about signing a contract as it may mean the property and/or landlord is not of a good standard. The council welcomes notification of any houses not on the list. Telephone or Email email@example.com.
Most landlords will now advertise online. It is easy to find properties by searching using key words such as ‘student’, ‘accommodation’ and ‘Sheffield’. Remember that larger agents are likely to appear high up on search engines, these can be a more expensive option in terms of administration fees, so look at properties from a range of providers. There may be some benefits of going to a landlord directly, such as lower fees and sometimes rent levels.
Do not send money to a landlord/agent before you have viewed an actual property and you are sure it is a genuine letting. There have been scams involving bogus properties for let on some website forums.
There are many lettings agents in Sheffield who target the student housing market. Many have offices close to the University, for example in Broomhill and Ecclesall Road, or they can be found via a quick search online. An agent may simply arrange the initial letting or provide a full tenancy management service. Many students find properties via letting agents.
From 1st October 2014 letting agents must be members of one of the following redress schemes (Be aware this does not apply to landlords who let and manage ONLY their own properties):
complain if you have a problem with a member agent. All lettings agents should display a logo of the scheme that they belong to in their office and on their website. They should also provide you with details of the scheme when you enter into any tenancy agreement and you can check directly with the scheme to find out if an agent is a member.
Do not use a letting agent who is not a member of one of these schemes.
Be aware that agents often charge fees for things like administration and credit reference checks, this is especially true of the larger city centre agencies. The fees are sometimes high and may be non-refundable if you change your mind about the accommodation. Make sure that you know what fees are payable from the start. New laws mean that all fees must be clearly set out on the agency’s website and should only be charged after you apply to take a specific property.
Do not pay any money to an agent unless you are really sure you want the property and can meet the terms of the contract. Ask from the start what fees will be payable and get a written receipt for all monies paid.
Some agents will require students to provide UK based guarantors. If you can’t provide this, for example if you are an international student, you may be asked to pay large advance rent payments. There are Guarantor Schemes such as housinghand. co.uk. For a fee such companies will act as your rent guarantor. The University also has a Guarantor Scheme (sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/finance/ags) for second and third year students who live in properties which are registered with Smartmove Sheffield.
It is possible to find accommodation in Sheffield without paying agent’s fees or having to provide a guarantor. If an agent is demanding high upfront fees or huge advance rent payments, consider finding another landlord/agent. Many landlords don’t charge fees at all.
Keep in mind the fact that agents are primarily a business and their main purpose is to act on behalf of the landlord/owner of the property, not you as a tenant. There are of course both good and bad agents, as there are landlords.
Check out online reviews and/or bring the contract to the Student Advice Centre for checking. The housing advisers have a good knowledge of local landlords and agents!
You may be asked to provide documents proving your immigration status due to the introduction of Right To Rent Checks when renting in the private sector, further information about this can be found at http://yoursu.sheffield.ac.uk/student-advice-centre/housing/right-to-rent. If you have problems in relation to Right to Rent, please contact the Student Advice Centre. Purpose built student residences and university owned accommodation are exempt from RTR checks. You can also request a Right to Rent nomination letter from the University (via SSiD) to give to a private landlord. This means that the landlord does not need to carry out further RTR checks as the property will be exempt.
It is illegal for a landlord or agent to discriminate against you on the grounds of race, colour, gender or sexual orientation. If you believe this has occurred please contact the Student Advice Centre as soon as you can.