Keeping it SNUG in Sheffield

Dominic Kitchen, Accommodation Officer at Sheffield Hallam University, discusses how students are benefiting from SNUG, a scheme to drive up private sector housing standards in the city

With private student housing providers becoming more and more commonplace in most towns and cities across the UK, there are increasing options available to students when choosing a property to suit their needs. This choice can sometimes be overwhelming. There are also often challenges differentiating between good landlords and those who could do more. Ensuring that students are supported throughout the house-hunting process and beyond is critical to the student experience. With Sheffield having an ever-growing student population of almost 60,000 across two institutions – Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield – it has become increasingly important to have a comprehensive way of quality-checking student accommodation across the region.

Sheffield’s student population attracts many benefits and opportunities for growth, adding vibrancy and diversity into the communities in which they reside, and boosting the local economy, especially in urban areas. It has become clear that the student experience is critical to ensuring the longevity of the student population within the region, with accommodation being a key consideration.

The Sheffield SNUG scheme, which launched in 2014, was designed to address this issue; a council-administered inspection, to identify landlords who are considered ‘fit and proper’. Private landlords who receive SNUG certification meet a level of tenancy and property management considered acceptable and appropriate for prospective student tenants, which can be broken down into three key areas;

The SNUG scheme ensures…

● Landlords are trustworthy and accountable

● Housing is safe, secure, and of a higher quality

● The accommodation is easy to find

The SNUG certification offers the opportunity for landlords who adhere to their responsibilities and run quality student housing within the Sheffield region to be recognised, as well as giving students greater peace of mind when choosing a place to live in the city. Similarly, SNUG offers a clear and effective process for the Council and universities to communicate expectations and developments to private landlords.

It is hoped that, over time, the SNUG scheme offers scope to minimise or even totally remove market opportunities and growth for landlords who are not up to standard or offer a level of service and property quality high enough for the city’s students. The criteria for the inspection covers all aspects of the property and its management.

The SNUG scheme is actively promoted and supported by both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam, and is required by both institutions for private landlords to register and advertise with them.

SNUG has grown significantly since its introduction, and continues to do so. For the 2017/18 period, there was a total of 192 landlords and 15,961 beds registered within the scheme. So far this year, this has increased to 213 landlords and 17,712 beds, with more being added all the time. This increase reflects the impact SNUG is having on the overall student accommodation landscape, with more and more landlords seeing the benefits of the scheme, from both an advertising and recognition perspective.

The SNUG scheme continues to have a significant impact on student accommodation across the Sheffield region. It is hoped this continued progress will provide a quality and trustworthy deal for the city’s students, whilst rewarding valuable landlords and maintaining student property standards across the city.

More information about Private Housing Standards within the Sheffield region can be found online at sheffield.gov.uk

Dominic Kitchen is an Accommodation Officer at Sheffield Hallam University. Dominic oversees the University’s private housing offer, and works alongside Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield to provide quality private-sector accommodation to the city’s students.