Rents in Sheffield have increased steadily in recent years. In 2015/16 most students paid between £70 and £85 per week for a room in a traditional shared house and £100 or more per week for a room in a student housing complex.
A high rent may not always indicate a better standard of accommodation. Key factors influencing rent levels are location (with rents in areas close to the University usually higher than in other parts of the city) and property size (with both large houses and studio/one bed properties costing more due to high demand for these property sizes). Most landlords charge full rent for 52 weeks but it is still possible to find reduced summer rent in areas such as Walkley or Hillsborough.
There is still some rent control in the private rented sector but it only applies to tenancies which started before 15 January 1989 so it doesn’t generally apply to students. Rents on tenancies which started after 15 January 1989 are market rents so landlords are free to charge as much as they can get. It is still possible in some circumstances to apply for a rent reduction after you have moved in but this is very rare and should not be attempted without getting advice first. Contact the Student Advice Centre for more information.
Most property adverts will include a rent figure but it is the amount as stated on the contract which actually counts so make sure you check this before you sign up. If there is no written contract, the terms you agree orally (verbally) with the landlord or agent will count as your contract so make sure you know exactly how much you will be required to pay before you go ahead.
To work out your (calendar) monthly rent, multiply your weekly rent by 52 and then divide by 12.
Bills are nearly always included in the rent in student housing complexes. In other types of student housing, such as shared houses, the situation is more varied with some landlords now offering a choice between bills exclusive and bills inclusive rents. With some bills inclusive deals, there is a cap on the amount which is included in the rent to cover the bills so if you spend more than this you will be charged for the excess.
Read the small print on bills inclusive deals.
There are no set rules so it will depend on what you agree to in the contract. In Sheffield, most students pay rent every 3 or 4 months but it is possible to pay calendar monthly, 4 weekly or even weekly. If you pay weekly your landlord has to give you a rent book. The most common method of payment is standing order (directly from your bank account to the landlord’s bank account) but you can pay by cheque or even cash. If you pay in cash you should always ask for a receipt.
Budget for your first rent payment. Lots of Sheffield landlords expect you to pay your summer rent in full before they hand over the keys.
A post-dated cheque is a cheque with a future date on it. Lots of landlords in Sheffield used to ask students to pay their rent by post-dated cheque but this is less common now. Landlords who still ask for post-dated cheques are likely to ask you to hand over all the cheques before they will give you the keys to the property, or even when you sign the contract.
A student signs a 12 month fixed term contract with rent payable quarterly. The contract starts on 1st July 2017. The student signs the contract on 1st February 2017 and on that date gives the landlord cheques dated 1st July 2017, 1st October 2017, 1st January 2018 and 1st April 2018. Each cheque is for 3 months rent.
Paying rent by post-dated cheque can cause problems. If there is not enough money in your account to cover the cheque when your landlord cashes it, your bank will charge you and your landlord might too (if your housing contract allows). If you cancel a cheque without your landlord’s agreement, he or she could take legal action against you. On top of this, post-dated cheques are sometimes (although rarely) cashed early.
Try to avoid paying your rent by post-dated cheque.
Some landlords ask students to provide a rent guarantor, usually a parent or guardian. Rent guarantors can be taken to court for rent owed by the person they are guaranteeing. With joint tenancies, it is advisable to make sure that each guarantor’s liability is limited to the rent payable by the person they are guaranteeing, otherwise they could be taken to court for rent owed by the other joint tenants.
Most landlords who ask for guarantors will only accept a guarantor who is living in the UK. International students who cannot provide a UK based guarantor are sometimes asked to pay large amounts of rent in advance instead. To help students who find themselves in this situation, the University is introducing a guarantor scheme to coincide with the 2017/18 letting cycle. Although the scheme is aimed at international students, UK students who have difficulty finding a guarantor are encouraged to contact the Financial Support team for advice. Information on the scheme will be available on the University website on the 22nd November.
It is possible to find good quality accommodation without a guarantor. Try the Studentpad website or contact the Student Advice Centre for help.
Page updated 17th November 2016