#HousingHorror: We hear from Sheffield


Sheffield, source of our latest feedback. Licensed under Creative Commons; by Paolo Margari

This week, as part of our #HousingHorror week of stories, we’ve shown looking for a house can be a daunting, frustrating and challenging venture. It should be easy to relax once the contract is signed and the deposit paid. Unfortunately this regularly isn’t the case.

We’ve heard from you, and it appears the situation is not secluded to Jesmond. Other students have contacted us about experiences in their student accommodation in other cities across England. One Sheffield student informed JesmondLocal that they had to threaten their landlord with legal action to get their housing deposits, paid as insurance against breakages and repairs, back – two months after the agreed date stated in the contract.

The student told us “they said they had lost the deposit forms but nothing happened in two months. A month after we moved in to the same property, the dishwasher broke.” Despite informing the letting agency of the issue on several occasions, the matter was left unresolved for the year the student lived in the property in question. The student then resorted to seeking legal guidance, which chivvied the landlord along: “we got our deposits back.”

Another Sheffield student, who asked not to be named so that their current year’s deposit is not withheld, told JesmondLocal that their landlord was “like their best friend until it came to getting the deposit back.” The student tells a story many will be familiar with: landlords are thorough in their end-of-year checks. “They pick up on everything and anything and take most of the deposit away from you,” the student said. “They then ask you ‘what is acceptable for you to pay’ – meaning you have to bargain with them.”  That leads some to question whether landlords and letting agents are using deposits for their real purpose, or as a bargaining tool even if tenants have taken care of the property.

Of course, whether being a student or not has any real impact on how landlords treat lodgers is hard to judge. Many students are renting their first property, and have not experienced anything else in the market. One non-university student in Newcastle noted on a few occasions, landlords would access their property without any prior warning, echoing our first report as part of #HousingHorror week.

We’re still eager to hear your #HousingHorror stories. Whether you’re from Sunderland or Sheffield, Newcastle or Norwich, student housing is a key issue. Get involved and get in touch with JesmondLocal. Comment below, email us at editor@jesmondlocal.com, send us a message on Facebook, or tweet us your experiences @JesmondLocal, using the #HousingHorror hashtag.

And don’t forget: we’re holding a live Q&A session from 11:30am on Friday April 19th. If you’d like to talk about your housing experiences with us, you can participate in our discussion with Ruth Gibson from the Newcastle University Student Advice Centre, Tessa Shepperson, a lawyer specialising in landlord rentals, and Bruce Haagensen of the National Landlords Association by logging onto JesmondLocal.com on Friday morning.