Is student accommodation really up to scratch?

by Elektra Theophanous (@elektrat96)

EACH year universities across the country welcome hundreds of thousands of new students starting the next chapter in their lives.

Over 30% of all UK students in rented accommodation in 13/14
Over 30% of all UK students in rented accommodation in 13/14

For many students, it is a first living away from their parents. And the new found freedom would be enough cause for a celebration – however, many student properties are not much to celebrate.

A recent NUS study revealed that more than three quarters of students had experienced at least one problem with the condition of their rented home – most commonly this is damp, condensation or mould.

 

Only half knew where to turn if they were experiencing problems with their home.

Local student Serina Panesar felt that students were not well informed: “When we encountered mould in our house, we didn’t really know what to do. It’s a big responsibility running your own house and I think students would benefit a lot from being given a few pointers from their landlord before moving in.”

Many students feel they could know more about maintaining a home
Many students feel they could know more about maintaining a home

NUS study revealed that only a half of students knew where to turn if they were experiencing problems with their rented home, with 40% turning to the Internet instead of their landlord for advice.

Trevor Bonnett is a local landlord who owns two student-rented properties in Portsmouth, he feels that responsibility weighs on both the tenant and the landlord.

“Maintenance is a shared responsibility. And tenants do have their responsibility as well in the form of cleaning, keeping the place up together. And quite often that’s not done, so the tenants don’t always do their share of the maintenance in that sense.

Student halls don't prepare students for maintaining a home
Student halls don’t prepare students for maintaining a home

But then I think, perhaps they’ve never had that conversation with the landlord and what’s expected of them.”

Could our landlords be doing more? Figures revealed that more than half of students had experienced delays in getting repairs carried out, and more than a third had had difficulty getting in touch with their landlord or agent.

Trevor said that commitment from both parties is what is needed to improve student and landlord relationships.

Local student housing area
Local student housing area

“Well it’s very important to talk to the landlord; reasonably as well, without demanding. And I think if the tenants demonstrate that they’re doing their part of the deal, which is keeping the place up together. There may be a lot of landlords out there who will be more inclined to do their part as well. But certainly, that conversation has to be had between the two.”

GOV.UK website has listed three steps to follow if you are experiencing problems with your landlord and would like to make a complaint:

1.Complain to your landlord – they should have a complaints policy that you can follow.

2.Make a complaint to a ‘designated person’ (your MP, a local councillor or a tenant panel) if you can’t resolve the problem with your landlord.

3.Contact your council or local authority if you and your landlord still can’t resolve the problem.

Many students feel they're not told enough
Relationships between landlords and students require commitment on both sides