Sheffield becomes first northern city to act on new rental legislation

Sheffield City Council is believed to be the first authority outside London to use new legislation designed to boost the rights of millions of people living in rented accommodation.

In the last six weeks it has fined 11 letting agents a total of £37,000 for failing to comply with legislation introduced last October. Under the new laws, letting and property management agents need to register with one of three Redress Schemes, which were set up to resolve problems between tenants and letting agents.

Around 16% of households in Sheffield (35,000) now live in rented accommodation. This has doubled over the past 10 years in line with the national picture.

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing, said: “We want the people of Sheffield to be able to live in good, safe housing, regardless of whether it’s rented or not.

“More people are living in rented housing as the cost of buying their own home becomes increasingly unaffordable. And we need to protect their rights.

“We are committed to this and will use all new legislation to help us. Thankfully most letting agents and landlords in Sheffield are very good and work with us really well. But we will take firm action on the small minority that do not follow the new measures designed to give tenants a fair deal.”

There are approximately 200 agents in Sheffield who charge property owners a fee to find tenants and manage thousands of privately rented homes on their behalf. The overwhelming majority have joined Redress schemes and complied with the new regulations.

The council regulates the private rented housing market in Sheffield to make sure tenants are safe and landlords are meeting their legal responsibilities. In the last six weeks it has also taken eight cases to court to prosecute landlords and agents for breaking the law. All cases were proven. This includes one case where a local landlord received fines of more than £4,300 for failing to repair or manage his rented property.

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