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The Big Picture of Contractual Issues in Renting Student Accommodation Sheffield

Big Picture of Contractual Issues in Renting Student Accommodation

Aside from students living at home with their parents, the majority of students occupy student accommodation in two types: purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and shared houses in the private rented sector (PRS). The main issues facing student tenants in both these types of property are late completion and ongoing repairing problems. In the case of PBSA, these are often caused by problems with the building process. In the case of PRS, these are often due to problems with the landlord’s failure to keep properties in good repair. The problems faced by students in these circumstances are exacerbated by the fact that the tenancy contracts often include complex terms which do not assist with resolving issues when they arise.

The big question is whether a consumer approach as advocated by the Law Commission and embodied in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) can offer any solution to these problems. The answer is probably not, at least not on the basis of the evidence currently available.

PBSA tenants may be protected by the ANUK/Unipol ‘National Code of Standards for Larger Student Developments not Managed or Controlled by Educational Establishments’, which was published in 2017. However, despite the fact that this code requires providers to take steps to ensure that their Sheffield student accommodation is fit for habitation when students move in, this has not been enough to address issues of late completion.

The Big Picture of Contractual Issues in Renting Student Accommodation Sheffield

Contractual mechanisms such as frustration and repudiation are unhelpful in these situations because it is usually impossible to argue that the delay in completion has changed the nature of the tenancy so that it can be treated as discharged or frustrated. Furthermore, because of the need to provide alternative Sheffield student accommodation and a lack of clarity as to what constitutes suitable alternative accommodation, the concept of frustration is likely to be difficult for students to apply in practice.

To ensure ongoing enhancements, accommodation providers should actively seek feedback from students and make necessary improvements based on their suggestions. Regular surveys, focus groups, or resident forums can provide valuable insights into students’ evolving needs. By actively listening to feedback and implementing changes accordingly, accommodation providers demonstrate their commitment to delivering an exceptional living experience.

On the other hand, a tenant’s right to an ombudsman scheme may be of some help here. The ombudsman is able to review and arbitrate complaints against landlords and, in certain cases, will order the landlord to make repairs. However, it is not clear that this type of remedy would be useful for students in the PRS, as the ombudsman can only deal with complaints by traders and consumers and students in the PRS are unlikely to qualify as either.

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