Landlords: why the bad press?

To let

The debate surrounding student accommodation is never far away in most University cities.

Many students complain that landlords provide a sub-standard service for extortionate fees.

Landlords however, will tell you that a negative and unfair portrayal in the media is the reason for this reputation.

Home to around 50,000 students, Sheffield is no different.

A lot of this is to do with perspective, says Peter Turkington, properties manager at PC Properties in Sheffield, who says the perception of landlords is “regretfully stereotypical”.

“The term ‘landlord’ is a medieval and archaic one, conjuring up the usual images of greedy owners, high rents, sub standard houses and poor maintenance.

“Historically, I feel that in general, the image is deserved. However, given various legislation changes that have come in to force, the standard of student accommodation has been significantly improved.”

In an effort to improve the quality of accommodation, landlords are now legally bound to provide annual gas safety checks, waste disposal systems, and to stop overcrowding in student housing.

While this might sound fairly basic, Ged Morris, landlord and director at Student Accommodation Sheffield, says this wasn’t always the case.

“When I was at University we had no showers and the hot water was stored in a tank, so we were limited as to when we could have a bath.

“The kitchen could only fit two people inside it and only had three cupboards, so people had to store their food in their rooms.”

 

A common perception that landlords are not held to account is also untrue, says Ged.

“The council and market forces will ensure that landlords provide decent housing, they are clamping down on poor quality housing and poor landlords.”

Paul Rotherham, Legal and Policy officer at Sheffield City Council added: “Most of these properties are in fine condition, and where not, issues are usually quickly resolved.

“We also inspect properties following complaints and generally these are usually of poorer quality. However, these are rarely student properties.

“Where there are serious breaches of management regulations and failure to licence we do prosecute.”

In addition, landlords also charge considerably less than traditional first-year halls of residence. In Sheffield, a room in Endcliffe student village will set the student (or their parents) back around £126 a week, or £5,200 for a 42-week contract.

Yet the average rent price in the popular Crookesmoor area is around the £80 mark, or £3,360 a year, saving an annual £2000.

So where does the criticism come from?

A second-year student at The University of Sheffield who wished to remain anonymous, thinks landlords exaggerate the worth of their properties.

“Our landlord put emphasis on our boiler being brand new and top of the range because we were worried about being cold, but we’ve had nothing but endless trouble with it.

“One man from British Gas actually laughed at how old it was, it turns out it was over 15-years-old. When we got to winter it was absolutely horrendous.

“I think it’s a bit of a joke how landlords think they can get away with stuff like this, just because we are students.”

However, being a student landlord is more difficult than people recognise, says Amein Nasser, landlord at S10 Estates, Sheffield.

“There’s a lot more wear and tear with student accommodation compared to normal families, students are quite abrasive on furniture so there are more repairs required, which costs money.

“This means there are also more rules and regulations necessary when you’re renting to students, which conjures up more work in terms of paperwork.”

But Nasima Akther, Labour councillor for Sheffield City Council, thinks landlords can provide more for their tenants.

“When it comes to providing good quality housing for students, it is only a few landlords that go above and beyond for their tenants, many just provide the bare minimum.”

While different circumstances mean that the issues between students and landlords are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, the best way of looking at things is with diplomacy, says UKIP Councillor John Booker.

He said: “It takes two to tango. Landlords are in the business of making money but students do need to be cut some slack. In any business arrangement there is always room for improvement.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *