We offer advice about various aspects of housing including checking your tenancy agreement, repairs, recovering deposits, problems with utility bills and Council Tax.
We can give you advice about various aspects of housing including checking your tenancy agreement, repairs, recovering deposits, advising on notices and posession, problems with utility bills and Council Tax. Check out our FAQ's below.
If you have any further questions after reading this, please contact us.
Try downloading one of our detailed self-help housing resources or find your answer to the questions below!
Enquiries about rent reductions / refunds have come more to the fore with students being unable to return to Sheffield because of rising covid-19 cases and a new lockdown. In response, the Student Advice Centre has put together a guidance leaflet specifically addressing these enquiries, which you can view in our self-help resources area.
The Students’ Union elected Officers are in discussions with the University and student representative groups, and we are liaising with the Officers. The aim of the leaflet is to provide you with options that you can consider on an individual basis but also information about how students may be able to achieve their aims collectively.
We recommend that the safest way to find accommodation in Sheffield is via SHU Accommodation Services website
They offer 4 types of accommodation:
• University Managed residences (Bramall Court & Charlotte Court)
• University partnership residences
• Private Sector Housing
• Homestays or accommodation with a family
All properties advertised with SHU accommodation services are Snug registered.
Snug is an award winning student landlord accommodation scheme which is managed by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Hallam Students' Union, Sheffield University and Sheffield University Student's Union. Snug was set up to ensure that students get high quality, properly managed accommodation, so that their time in Sheffield is both safe and enjoyable.
Landlords that do not meet the criteria set by the council will not qualify for the scheme, and will not be able to advertise with the university.
Download our House Hunting Area Guide for more information about Snug and popular areas to live that are local to Sheffield Hallam University. This guide and our other Househunting / Moving In Top Tips guides can be found in our self-help resources section.
For new tenancies that start on or after the 1st February 2016, private landlords, agents or householders who are letting private rented accommodation, or taking in a lodger/ subletting must check their tenant's immigration status before they can offer them a tenancy agreement. This is called the ‘Right to Rent’. This means checking that tenants or lodgers have the right to be in the UK. This also applies to council and housing associations.If you already live in a property before this date then your landlord or letting agent will have to check your right to rent before you move into the property.
Landlords have to check the status every year and take a copy of the tenant's documents. If you find your accommodation before you arrive in the UK then your landlord or letting agent will have to check your right to rent before you move into the property.
The right to rent checks should not be carried out more than 28 days before the tenancy is signed
You have the ‘Right to Rent’ If you are one of the following:
• You are a UK citizen.
• You are an EEA/Swiss national
• You have the right to be in the UK under EEA law
• You have valid immigration permission to be in the UK
• You do not have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but you have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government
• You live in an exempt property. This includes student halls of residence; accommodation owned and managed by a higher or further education institution, or a body established for charitable purposes only; and accommodation that you have been nominated to occupy by such an institution, or charitable body.
• You are under 18 when you enter into the tenancy agreement; you will remain exempt until the landlord's next set of checks are due, even if you turn 18 during this time.
• You are not using the property as your main or only home in the UK.
• The landlord is immediate family, such as a parent.
• You are a guest in the property, you do not pay rent to stay there and it is not your only or main home in the UK.
• The property is holiday accommodation and you will be staying there for only a short period of time.
Your landlord or lettings/property agent will need to see original evidence of your right to be in the UK for example the following will be sufficient:
British citizens: A passport (current or expired) /A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen
EEA/Swiss nationals: Your passport or national identity card
Family members of EEA / Swiss nationals: EEA family permit or residence card
People with immigration permission to be in the UK: Current passport containing a valid visa, or a valid Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If these documents are with the Home Office as part of an ongoing immigration application (or you have a pending appeal or administrative review) then you should give your landlord your Home Office reference number so that they can verify this with the Home Office.
If your landlord does do not check your immigration status they could be fined up to £3000.
If a group of you are renting a property together and you are all named on the contract, it is likely that you will have what is called a joint tenancy.
A joint tenancy means that you are each liable for the whole rent of the premises and for any other obligations under the tenancy, including bills.
For example: There is a group of four tenants on a joint tenancy for 9 months and one tenant decides to leave in the sixth month because they are fed up that no one else does any cleaning. Each joint tenant was paying an equal share of the rent. In this case, the landlord is entitled to collect the shortfall in rent from any or all of the remaining tenants. These remaining tenants may subsequently be able to recover this money from the missing tenant.
In the above circumstances, the best solution is for the leaving tenant to find someone to replace them.
If none of you pay your rent, your landlord can ask any one of you to pay the full amount.
Sole (Individual) Tenancies
You may have a sole tenancy of a studio or a private flat. If this is the case, the agreement is between you and the landlord/agent. You and your guarantor, if you have one, will be solely liable for any rent arrears or damages.
Sometimes a group of tenants can have individual tenancies of their rooms, even though they are sharing a property. If a group of you are living in a property together, but you want to avoid the burdens of a joint tenancy, you could try and negotiate individual tenancies of your rooms. This means that you are only liable for the rent for your room but have access to all the joint facilities of the property (i.e. bathroom, kitchen etc.).
The disadvantages of this agreement are that:
For detailed guidance on Tenancy Agreements, see our guide in the self-help resources section.
If you don't pay your rent, then you risk losing your home. Therefore it is very important that you take some action
Talk to your landlord - explain what problems you are facing and they may be understanding and offer you an arrangement to pay what you owe (i.e. change the payment schedule, or wait until you receive your student funding). It's important to keep your landlord updated, as landlords might take further action if they think you are unwilling to pay your rent.
Don't ignore any letters regarding rent arrears- as rent arrears are grounds to start legal proceedings to evict you from the property. Landlords can also take you to court to get the money you owe.
Seek help from the Advice Service
DID YOU KNOW? If you are persistently late with your rent, or owe rent to your landlord, they can apply to the court to evict you. If you are in your fixed term, this can only happen if your tenancy agreement allows. However, if you owe 8 weeks' or 2 months' rent, the court may make the eviction mandatory.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your landlord over rent arrears, the landlord may threaten to take you to court to evict you from the property. What action they can take will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you signed.
Many students will have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which means the landlord will have to follow a set procedure and you cannot be evicted unless the procedure is followed.
If you are threatened with eviction or the landlord threatens to take you to court, please contact the Advice Service as soon as possible.
It's important to note that your basic legal rights may not be written into your tenancy agreement. However, tenants have basic rights set in law.
What the Law states:- Under the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, the landlord is responsible for:
• The structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water systems, basins, sinks and other sanitary installations.
• Gas and electrical appliances
• Fire safety of furniture and furnishings provided.
• Repairing and keeping in good working order the water heating system.
• Tenants are also responsible for some basic repairs such as changing lightbulbs.
The landlord is generally not responsible for any damage caused by tenants or for rebuilding the property, in the case of damage by fire, flood or other unavoidable accident
However, the landlord only legally becomes responsible once they have been notified of the repairs in writing (this can be via post or email).
The law states that you have to then allow a 'reasonable' amount of time for the landlord to carry out the repairs. The law does not set out what is reasonable, and this is determined on a case by case basis.
Timescales for the repairs
Emergency repairs such as broken boilers, leaking roof or ceiling, broken toilet, should be carried out between one to two days
For non-urgent repairs, such as broken cupboard door we suggest 28 days to be a 'reasonable' amount of time
If the landlord ignores your requests or refuses to carry out repairs there are a number of things you can do
•Try to collect evidence of the disrepair
• Take photos of the disrepair/ items damaged by the disrepair
• Gather receipts for the damaged items
• If appropriate contact your local council to get them to come to inspect the property
Keep copies of any emails/letters/ record of any conversations that you have had with your landlord/agent
If your health has been affected by the disrepair then get copies of GP notes
Do not stop paying your rent without taking advice from ourselves or another advice agency.
If you are having problems trying to resolve the issue, please contact the Advice Service for further help/advice. You can also see our guide to Repairs in our self-help resources section.
Below is a brief outline of the steps you may be able to take if you wish to try to leave your tenancy early. For more detailed information, please see our guide on Leaving Your Tenancy in our self-help resources section.
If you do not have a break clause in your tenancy agreement, and you want to leave your contract earlier than it allows you have 3 options:-
• Negotiate with your landlord
• Find a replacement tenant (with your landlord's agreement)
• Take the risk and move out, however, you will remain liable for the rent until the end of the contract
Step by Step Guide to Leaving your Contract Early:
1) Check your contract
2) Check if your contract has a break clause in it, as this will make it easier.
3) Negotiate with your Landlord
Your Landlord may be sympathetic to your circumstances and it may be possible to negotiate with him/her to bring your contract to an end. If your Landlord does agree then you should get this in writing. If you are a joint tenant you and your landlord will also need to get the agreement of the other tenants. If your landlord has not met some of their obligations, e.g. protecting your deposit, this may help in negotiating - however, it is best to seek advice on this first.
Here are some suggestions that you could use to negotiate:
Will your Landlord accept a one off payment to allow you to leave your contract early?
Will they accept your deposit as part payment?
You could provide supporting evidence to back up your case, such as a letter from your tutor or GP.
4) Find a replacement
Landlords do often agree to allow you to move out if you can find a replacement tenant. However, it is your responsibility to find a replacement, and it is important that everything is agreed properly in writing. Some landlords/agents will advertise on your behalf.
To find a replacement, put as many adverts up for the room as you can. You could put them in:
The Star (local newspaper)
Any relevant web Forums
5) Move Out / Don't Move in
It is very risky if you take this action, as you will be in breach of your contract and you will remain liable to pay your rent until the end of your contract. If you intend on taking this action please seek further advice first!
For more detailed information, see our Guide to Tenancy Deposits in the self-help resources section.
Since the 6th of April 2007, security deposit should be secured in a tenancy deposit scheme.
Your landlord is legally obliged to secure your deposit within 30 days of receiving it. Your landlord should also provide you with specific information about the scheme that they have used:
There are 3 government backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Deposit Protection Service
If there is a dispute about your deposit and your landlord won't come to an agreement with you the schemes offer a free service which can help to resolve the dispute called the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service.
If you and the landlord both agree to use the service to resolve the dispute, then you're both bound by its decision. However, both parties need to co-operate with the service. The onus is on the landlord to prove why they are deducting the money.
This doesn't prevent you from taking the matter to the small claims court instead of using ADR, but the judge at court may want to know why you refused to engage with the dispute service.
If your deposit has not been protected
If your deposit isn't in a scheme, the action you take will depend on whether your tenancy is still current or if your tenancy has ended.
If you are still in the tenancy then you should ask your landlord to protect your deposit and give you the prescribed information
If it has been 30 days or more since you paid your tenancy deposit to your landlord (or the landlord's agent), write to your landlord and ask for your deposit to be protected.
If Your Tenancy Has Ended
If your tenancy has ended and your landlord hasn't protected your deposit, the law says that you're entitled to have your tenancy deposit returned to you. A court can order your landlord to return your deposit and pay you compensation of between one and three times its value.
If you need further help with this process then contact the Advice Service
How to find accommodation
Finding Accommodation - SHU Services
Finding Accommodation - Shelter
Deposit Scheme Checker