Check-in & inventories
Do this on the day the contract starts if you can. It is unlikely that a landlord will meet you at the property due to Covid 19 and it can be a busy time for landlords. Check the property is clean and ready to move into. Report any repairs or other issues to the landlord in writing or by email.
An inventory is a list of the furniture and other items belonging to the landlord but it should also state the condition of the property and furniture. Use the Student Advice Centre model inventory if your landlord does not provide one.
Make sure you note anything which is already damaged, missing or dirty however minor. Make sure that it is an accurate record of the property, it may prevent you from being later charged for damage which you did not cause.
Sign and return it to the landlord within the time period specified in your contract (normally 7 days). Keep a copy for yourself and also take dated photos or a video of the property and especially any serious problems.
If you signed the contract after 1st June 2019 a landlord cannot charge you for completing an Inventory.
You may also want to ask the landlord if there are any instruction manuals etc so that you know how to use any equipment. Find out where the electrical fuse box is and water stop tap. Check any smoke, fire or burglar alarms are working.
If the property is in a very poor condition and/or you are unable to move in due to the condition, take photographs and seek housing advice straightaway, email email@example.com.
If the property is unfit, and has serious health and safety issues or hazards, you may be able to walk away from the contract, however, this is rare. This would not apply if the property simply needed cleaning.
A landlord should ensure that the property is clean at the start of a new tenancy. Due to Covid 19 this is even more important. Ideally the landlord will have ensured the property has been thoroughly cleaned but there is often very little re-let period between student tenancies and so this does not always happen. Report any issues to the landlord straightaway, ideally in writing (email, text and make sure you keep a copy).
If you need to move in and the property has not been cleaned, we advise that you at least clean door handles, surfaces and bathrooms with a detergent to prevent any risk from COVID-19. If you have to purchase cleaning products ask the landlord to reimburse you.
If it is in a really poor condition and the landlord is refusing to clean the property, take photos and email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact a housing adviser at the Student Advice Centre.
If your rent doesn’t include bills, you will need to take meter readings for electricity, gas and water (if your house has a water meter) then contact the suppliers to set up accounts. To find out your supplier call 0870 608 1524 for gas and 0845 070 7172 for electricity. The water supplier in Sheffield will be Yorkshire Water. You may also need to sort out phone and broadband suppliers. You may be able to save money by comparing suppliers see websites such as www.uswitch.com, or www.comparethemarket.com/utilities. You may need to inform the landlord if you are doing this but they should not stop you from doing so.
It is a legal requirement for a landlord to provide an Energy Performance certificate for the property.
Full time students don’t usually have to pay Council Tax but you will need to provide the council with a copy of your student council tax exemption certificate to avoid being billed. You can request a certificate from SSiD. Students on short courses or who are in between courses may be required to pay. For further information see here.
Regularly check that any alarms and smoke detectors are working. It can be a tenant’s responsibility to check and replace batteries. Larger properties should have mains operated smoke/heat detectors. Know your exit points and have a fire escape plan. Have a safe place for keys near the front door (but out of sight and reach of burglars) so you can get out in an emergency. For more information go to firekills.gov.uk.
Gas & electrical safety
Landlords must have gas safety checks carried out by a Registered Gas safety engineer every 12 months. Tenants are entitled to see the certificate so ask for it. A landlord must provide one within 7 days. If you smell gas call 0800 111 999 immediately. Be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and know the signs. For more information, see here.
A landlord does not have to provide an annual electrical safety certificate but there is an expectation that the electrics are safe and should have been inspected within 5 years. For more information see here.
Try to recycle as much as possible. Bin collections take place weekly but on a two-week cycle with black bins (general household waste) and blue bins/boxes (glass, cans & plastic, paper & cardboard) being collected on alternate weeks. You are expected to place the bins on the street by 7am on your collection day and bring them back in as soon as possible after they’ve been emptied. Local residents will complain if you leave the bins and bags of rubbish out on the street, as they cause obstructions and are a potential health hazard. To find out your bin days check here.
Sheffield is a safe city but burglaries do happen. Having some contents insurance means that should the worst happen; you can replace your valuable items quickly. Shop around for a good deal and make sure you read the small print of any policy to ensure your property will be covered. Money saving expert is a good consumer advice site.
Tips on keeping you and your belongings safe can be found here.
Living in the community
Introduce yourself to your neighbours. They can be a great source of local information and making friends with them helps to make you feel part of the wider Sheffield community.
Be considerate and keep noise levels down, especially late-night noise. When social distancing restrictions are lifted and you can invite friends around again or have a party, inform your neighbours in advance and don’t let things get out of hand. If you receive a complaint, apologise and keep the noise down.
If you want to get more involved in the local community check out Sheffield Volunteering at the Students’ Union for volunteering and community projects.
Most student housing is in walking distance of the University or close to a bus or tram route so you probably won’t need to bring your car. It can be difficult to find parking spaces in some popular student residential areas. If you do bring a car, depending on where you live, you may need a resident’s parking permit to park near your house. You will also need a permit to park on University premises.
You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or to download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand. This applies to any provider you use and any device. Visit tvlicensing.co.uk. If you have a joint tenancy you only need one licence for the whole house.
Register to vote
If you are a student from the UK, EU or commonwealth you can register to vote.
Even if you’re not interested in politics, being on the electoral register can help your credit rating.