Being a student obviously has many ups and downs; studying is emotionally and physically draining but meeting new people and learning about something is incredibly rewarding!
Why then, in this tumultuous time, are students taken advantage of? I’m referring to that demon that is student housing.
As inexperienced renters, I’m amazed at how this lack of experience is capitalised on by some landlords. In the past I’ve been pretty lucky with accommodation, my last landlord in Nottingham was incredibly lovely and would come to fix things in the same week that they broke!
Now though, working through a property management company, I am unlikely to ever meet my landlord and that saddens me. This disconnect with the people you’re providing shelter for has proven to be a recipe for disaster. To put it lightly, the house is falling apart! Since moving in we’ve had to deal with two leaks in the roof (yet to be fixed), a leak in a window, a leak from the dishwasher, broken stools, a sofa that was already ripped and broken, the seal on the oven has broken, the towel rail in the bathroom doesn’t work, a leak from the upstairs shower, a leak through the light in the upstairs bedroom, mould and damp, and our washing machine exploded covering the kitchen floor in shattered glass.
Who knows what the new year will bring!
The property management company that we have talked to about these problems can only do so much and it remains the landlord’s responsibility to keep up with repairs and general house maintenance which, if the hole in the roof is anything to go by, they have failed to do.
The problem for housing is that there are 1.7million students in need of a roof over their heads and while uni halls and private halls solve part of this problem, many universities do not allow people to stay longer than a year to make way for new students.
This forces students to band together and form groups of people who know next to nothing about each other so that they can find a house before all the good ones go. I remeber starting to look at houses in November with a group of people I had only known for three months!
Save the Student found that 50% of students live in private, rented accomodataion with the average rent in the UK being around £130 per week which is a staggering £520 per month! This contributes to the reasons why students are famous for being poor.
What do people get for the money they spend on rent? Not a lot in many cases; furniture that has been sat on by hundreds of tenants before, draughts and damp. Amongst this, I was surprised to find that 68% of students have managed to get bills included in their rent. This has been something that has always eluded me in my search for properties; I’ve found that deals like this are the fastest to go simply because of their convenience and eliminating that constant annoyance of reminding housemates to pay their bills on time!
On top of rent is the angency fees, for me they were a staggering £234 each! This was to take the property off the market and pay the admin costs for processing guarantor forms and references. What’s more is that this year, to keep the house we would have had to pay £234 yet again to take it off the market depspite already living here! Before I had even moved in last year, I had to pay over £1000 in prepartation for moving in.
Luckily my housemates and I are going our separate ways to pastures new in July, where we’ll hopefully have more luck with properties!
There is some good news, apart from the property managers making up excuses for not fixing the roof for over 6 months, our washing machine and shower leak were fixed relatively quickly, withink 2 weeks which was a surprise.
I’m one of those people that will never be afraid to call up about a problem and even though I hear a sigh and sense a note of ‘oh no it’s Jennie again’ when I ring up to report a problem (or list of problems), keeping up to date with everything has proven to be a good tactic to make sure stuff gets done. I think some landlords rely on students not being proactive about the problems with their student houses and that’s when the problems get worse and no change is seen.
Students need to be assured that if they stand up, they will be counted.