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Looking For a Property or a house?
House hunting can be a very stressful experience. Check out our frequently asked questions below for tips and useful information on what to look for in a property and before signing a tenancy agreement/housing contract. You need to ensure that you understand what you are signing up to before signing on the dotted line!
We offer a free tenancy checking service, so bring in the agreement for checking before you sign it, as it is unlikely that you will be able to get out of the contract once you have signed it.
Have a look at our frequently asked questions on Housing issues for fast answers to common queries with links to more in depth information if needed. Simply click on the question to see an answer.
If you need more detailed information please go to the bottom of the page for links to our leaflets, or drop us an email or make a call, if you have not found an answer to your specific question.
Cons of looking early:
Every year there is a surplus of student accommodation in Sheffield of a good standard and affordable rents. Student housing is a very competitive and lucrative market, which is why landlords/ letting agents put pressure on students, by telling you that the “good ones go early” and “you won’t be able to find anywhere if you leave it too long”. Remember that landlords/ lettings agents are salespeople and are trying to sell you a service, they are under pressure to let their properties. You wouldn’t like to be pressured into buying a pair of shoes, you would try a few on beforehand, so why be pressured into signing up for a property?
You are the consumer and you have the power to negotiate, so use it to your advantage
Sheffield Hallam University’s Accommodation Services are a good place to start!
The Accommodation Service has a list of properties owned by private landlords who have registered with Sheffield Hallam University. They offer free advice and guidance on all aspects of house hunting and have a good knowledge of the local area and the types of properties that might suit you.
Alternatively, there are letting agencies and estate agencies where you can find properties. Look out for ads placed in local newspapers, on the notice boards in the HUBS and on internet sites such as Gumtree, etc.
• You need to be clear what you are signing
• You must make sure you understand who your landlord is
• how long the contract is for
• how much is the rent and what does it include?
For a list of questions that you should be asking your landlord, before you sign: Click here
You can pick up a guide to house hunting or get your contract checked out by one of our Advisors. Don’t sign unless you are sure you understand what you are signing up to!
First make a full list of all the problems you have with the house. Try to be as descriptive as possible and take date stamped photos where appropriate. Then write to your landlord asking them to put the things right.
You have to allow your landlord time to sort out the repairs, we advise for non-urgent repairs 21 working days or 1-2 days for urgent repairs.
Keep a record of all correspondance (and photos) between you and the landlord until you have left the property and the deposit has been returned to you.
If your landlord doesn’t resolve the problems you highlighted please come and speak to one of our Advisors in the HUBS.
It depends on your tenancy and what is included in your contract.
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, most assured shorthold tenants have the right to repair of:
• the structure and exterior (incl. drains, gutters and external pipes)
• the installations for the supply of gas, water and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences);and of
• heating and hot water installations.
If appliances are included in the tenancy, then they must be in working order.
The landlord is required by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure that all gas appliances are maintained in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by a registered engineer. The landlord must issue a copy of the safety check record to existing tenants within 28 days or to a new tenant before they move in.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Consumer Protection Act 1987 require the landlord to ensure that the electrical installation (fixed wiring, etc) and any electrical appliances supplied (cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines, immersion heaters, etc) are safe to use.
HOWEVER, the landlord only becomes liable under section 11, once you notify him/her about the repairs!
Notify your landlord in writing of any repairs that need doing. You must give your landlord time to carry out the repairs. If the repairs are not completed or the landlord is charging you for the repairs please contact the Advice Centre in the HUBS.
Once you’ve signed a fixed term contract – it isn’t easy to get out of.
Write to your landlord asking if you can be released early explaining your circumstances, if not you may have to find a replacement tenant.
Unfortunately, you may still be liable for the rent (even if you leave early) until the end of the contract.
Check out our leaflet on Leaving your housing contract Leaflet 11-12 for further advice, alternatively contact the advice centre.
The schemes are completely independent of the landlord, so any disputes should be settled fairly. If your landlord refuses to comply, the county courts may be able to order him/her to either give you your deposit back, pay it into an appropriate scheme, and/or pay you between one and three times its value.
Your landlord or letting agent must pay your deposit money to you within ten days of agreeing the amount to be returned.
If you have not received your deposit within ten days of reaching an agreement you should contact the scheme provider. Your landlord cannot keep your money without your consent.
Both of you must sign to release the agreed amount of the deposit. If you can’t agree on the amount to be returned, you can use the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service attached to the deposit protection scheme. If a dispute occurs, and you and your landlord both agree to use the ADR service, you will also have to agree to be bound by its decision with no recourse to the courts. For more information click on the link:-http://www.tds.gb.com/resources/files/A-guide-to-deposits-disputes-and-damages.pdf
If you can prove that your landlord refuses to take part in ADR you can file a small claims claim through the county court.
Check out the NUS/ Unipol- leaflet on how to get your deposit back.
For further information on deposits check out our leaflet below or contact the advice centre.
Write down all your income and outgoings and see what’s left once you have paid your bills.
• Don’t make it easy for them. Close all windows, and lock all the doors, when you are leaving the house. Don’t assume someone else will do it, and don’t avoid doing it because you think that some people may still be at home. Always lock the door when you leave the house!
• Don’t leave valuables on show. Keep it hidden to keep it safe.
• If you have a burglar alarm: USE IT!
• Safe-guard your belongings for if they get stolen: mark your belongings with UVA pen, or Smartwater, which students can buy at a reduced rate, for more information click on the following link: http://shu.ac.uk/services/facilities/security/links.html
• Know who is coming in and out of your house – common sense, but accidentally letting in thieves is a surprisingly large cause of student-targetted crime!
For more information about keeping you, your house and your stuff safe click here.
The advice centre offers a free service to check housing contracts. We have drop-in Mon-fri 1-3pm, where an adviser will help you get to grips with the contract so you fully understand what you are signing.
The University’s Accommodation office has a list of landlords who are registered with them. Contact the accommodation office for further info.
Check out students’ online reviews of some student landlords
Google the name of the landlord or the agent to see what other students are saying BEFORE you sign a contract. Remember to review your landlord, even if they are good, so other students can benefit from your experience.
If you have any further questions please contact the Advice Centre of come in and see us at the HUBS.
Don’t Panic House Hunting Toolkit-this leaflet gives tips and useful information on what to look for in a property before signing a tenancy agreement
A rough guide to househunting – the leaflet provides useful tips on an accommodation in private sector such as: when to start looking for the property, how to choose location, who to live with, where to find accommodation offers and checklist on property conditions before you sign. It explains differences between single and joint tenancy agreements and risks involved in each and provides advice on where to find help in case of breaking the contract. It also gives an explanation to utility bills, repairs and who is responsible for it, or how the deposit should be protected.
Guide To Housing Contracts Leaflet 12-13 - a guide to assured short hold tenancies. In order to improve your understanding to the contract you are signing, the guide discusses every area of contract such as the property, term of contract, the rent, deposit and post dated cheques, tenant’s and landlord’s obligations.
viewing-checklist- take a copy of our checklist when you view properties and check the house conditions carefully before committing yourself to a property. It may also help you while choosing between several properties and act as an indicator for your final decision.
A4 Don’t Panic Housing Inventory- Take a copy of our inventory, give a copy to your landlord/ agent , if you haven’t been given one- and keep it safe until the end of your tenancy, until you get your deposit back.
Utility Bills Leaflet 12-13 - common problems and how to avoid them. Utility bills usually include the following: gas, electricity, water rates, tv and telephone. Here it is explained who is responsible for a payment; what to do and how to notify suppliers about a supply when moving in or out of a private property or how to change the supplier. It also explains who is liable for paying bills and gives a definition on “joint and several liability” and describes how to prevent common problems you may come across when paying the bills.
Tenancy Deposits Leaflet 12-13 - info on what they are for, what the tenancy deposit scheme is, what to do before you move in, during the tenancy and at the end of the tenancy and what to do if you don’t have your deposit returned.
Deposit Recovery Pack – The NUS guide to getting your deposit back.
Leaving My Housing Contract Leaflet 12-13 – info on the issues involved if you want to leave your contract early.
Housing Repairs Leaflet 12-13 – what to do if your house needs repairs, what the Law says, who’s responsible? Getting repairs done and what to do if the landlord wont act.
Council Tax Leaflet 12-13 – this leaflet will tell you whether you have to pay it and how to prove it if you don’t.
To report repairs
Requesting repairs 1st letter template Template letter to send to your landlord to get repairs done.
Requesting repairs 2nd letter Template letter to send to your landlord if they don’t respond to your first letter.
For Deposit Issues
Asking which tenancy deposit protection scheme is used Letter to send to find out which scheme your deposit is protected in.
Asking for deposit to be protected letter Letter to send to ask for your deposit to be protected.
Asking for reasons for making deductions from a deposit Letter to send to landlord requesting reasons for deductions.
Letter disputing deductions from a deposit – Send this to your landlord if you dispute any deductions taken from your deposit ( ie, high cleaning charges, high decorating costs etc)
Letter to ask for your deposit to be refunded – Send this to your landlord/agent only if your deposit HAS NOT BEEN SECURED in a tenancy deposit scheme
Letter to ask for your deposit to be refunded – Send this to to your landlord or agent if your deposit HAS BEEN SECURED in a tenancy deposit scheme
Wanting to leave your contract early
Asking your landlord to release you from your contract early A letter to send if you want to negotiate release from your tenancy agreement early.
Other housing issues
Asking for details of your landlord- send this to your lettings agent asking for them to provide you with your landlords name, address and contact details
UUK Code - This leaflet gives information about the service you should receive from your landlord if you live in a property managed by Sheffield Hallam University.
ANUK Code- This provides information on the service you receive living in private halls
Can’t find what you’re looking for or need further help? Don’t hesitate to contact us on 0114 225 4148