As many students leave their campus accommodation at the end of their first year, making way for new freshers, some are moving into privately rented properties.
These are found in areas including the Arboretum, Lenton, and Beeston - but a legal advisor has questioned how well landlords are maintaining them.
It is thought that because some students may not know their rights as a tenant, their properties can sometimes be mismanaged or even unlicensed.
All tenants who feel their property has been managed in this way can apply for a Rent Repayment Order through a tribunal that can see them win back up to 12 months of rent.
In one case last year, three students from Nottingham Trent University were awarded nearly £16,000 between them from a Rent Repayment Order because their rented property was unlicensed.
A non-profit group that helps tenants with problems like this says it is an 'endemic issue' in Nottingham with many “vulnerable” students in the city likely to be unaware that their landlord's management of their property has fallen below certain standards.
Justice for Tenants - a non-profit free tenant advice service - think more of Nottingham’s students are entitled to this repayment than may be the case.
Nick White, who is 20 and has lived in a privately rented house in the Arboretum for a year and a half, is studying architecture at Nottingham Trent University (NTU).
He said: “Our landlord will walk in whenever he wants to. He has walked into people's bedrooms while they’ve been in there before too.
“I think, as students, landlords think we will put up with it.”
Myles Jordan-Bond, a 23-year-old broadcast student at NTU, described some issues he had while renting a property in Gamble Street, Radford.
He said: “We had to use this app called ‘propertyfile’ to raise any issues where we needed improvements. We could see on there that it had been acknowledged but days later, nothing would be done.
“We would have to call and keep chasing them. We would ask for the maintenance department number to organise it ourselves but they wouldn't give it to us.
“I absolutely think we were taken advantage of because we were students. They definitely don't think students are fully aware of the rules regarding tenancies and stuff.”
A property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’, such as a family, but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen is considered a house in multiple occupancy (HMO).
This applies to student properties as well, meaning landlords must pay for a HMO licence from their local authority before renting.
Tenants in a property found not to have a HMO licence could be entitled to the Rent Repayment Orders.
Another student, Tom Gill, who is 18 and studying law with business in his first year chose to live in private halls in the city centre, but has still faced issues.
He said: “The handle to the door to my flat came off so if it closed, I could not open it from the inside. I told maintenance about it three times but it still took two months to fix.
“If there was a fire, I would have been stuck in there. It took my dad to e-mail them over Christmas for it to get sorted.”
Alasdair Mcclenahan, lead for the rent repayment order team at Justice for Tenants, said: “Property issues that bring in enforcement or a tribunal are those found to be poorly managed and unlicensed - broadly speaking - because landlords and agents think they can get away with it as most students don't know their rights.
“The criminal standard of proof needs to be high and tenants can bring a case forward themselves to a tribunal and ask for a year's rent to be repaid.
“Students are quite a vulnerable sector. It’s so easy to fail as young students here so we help them, gather the evidence and cover the costs.
“This is an endemic issue that’s growing. I reckon lots more are entitled to Rent Repayment Orders. We need to get that message out there.”
Tenants can bring action against ‘rogue’ landlords without a local authority if they choose to take a case to The Residential Property Tribunal.
Here, the Tribunal can rule up to 12 months rent to be repaid to tenants based on factors including the conduct of the landlord, the landlord's financial circumstances, and whether they have committed a similar offence before.
In the recent case where the three student tenants from NTU were awarded nearly £16,000 in rent through a tribunal from their landlord, this was in relation to a property in Shakespeare Street.
The tribunal details the property was without the necessary HMO licence and with a number of serious risks or hazards due to incorrectly installed gas boiler.
Part of the Tribunal decision - which is dated February 25, 2019 - reads: “The tribunal is satisfied beyond doubt that the respondent was responsible for Shakespeare Street, that the building required an HMO licence and that no such licence existed, so that the offence of being a person having control of or managing an HMO which is required to be licensed under s72(1) of the 2004 Act but was not so licensed, was committed.”
Justice for Tenants provided legal help for the students living in the property - which NTU bought in November 2018 once the tenants who were awarded a rent repayment moved out.
A spokesperson for NTU said: “We purchased and took possession of the property in mid-November 2018 and carried out a number of checks on the building.
"The building had been left in a state of disrepair, and due to this and concerns about safety and the provision of essential services, we immediately offered student residents alternative accommodation."
The students had sourced the property through letting agents Nicholas Humphreys who added they were “instructed by the landlord to carry out a tenant find only service and therefore did not manage” the property.
Councillor Linda Woodings, portfolio holder for housing, planning and heritage, said: "A small number of criminal or rogue landlords knowingly rent out substandard and unsafe accommodation. If we prosecute a landlord for certain offences, we’re obliged to consider applying for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO).”
“These certain offences can include things like a landlord entering the home of a tenant using violence, harassing or illegally evicting them, failure to comply with an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Order or they if haven’t got a housing licence when one is required."
Broxtowe Borough Council - who ensure student properties in areas like Beeston are licensed - added: “It is the responsibility of the landlord of a licensable HMO to ensure a licence application is made and the council works to identify unlicensed HMOs in the borough as well as any properties let as HMOs which we are unaware of.”