We have all had different experiences with student accommodation. Some people have a great time, while others might not. To find out more, Frankie Galton spoke to three NTU students about what their time in university accommodation was really like…
As anyone living in university accommodation will know, the experience can be pretty… unique. From flatmates with very different (and nasty) ideas of hygiene, dodgy landlords, and just overall money stress, it really is a way to bring you into the “real world”.
While the world of student accommodation may seem distant after months back in the comfort (or captivity) of our parents’ homes, here are three horror stories from current NTU students. Spoiler alert: they will make you think that maybe moving out wasn’t such a good idea after all!
Final year Spanish and Media student Frankie McKechnie shared with me the stress of her second-year accommodation. All of us can relate to the panic of choosing who to live with, especially within the space of just a few short weeks into your first term at university. Frankie was one of the many whose choice had huge consequences, both emotionally and financially.
“The problems started pretty much as soon as we moved in” she said. Living in a flat of three, one flatmate was just not cleaning up after herself. She wasn’t going into uni, despite the support of their other flatmate, who was on the same course, and the estate agents contacted the girls to say that somebody had not been making payments.
After months of difficulties with the estate agent, FHP, the flatmate continued not to pay. When they were threatened to be kicked out, she claimed that it would make her homeless, making the process even more difficult. Finally, in January, she was forced to move out, which of course was a great relief to her flatmates – but there was a catch. As a result of their joint tenancy, they were liable for each other’s rent payments. This meant that Frankie and her other flatmate were expected to cover the £520 per month rent between them, from October until March, when another tenant moved in – a faculty member from NTU.
When asked for her advice to first years looking for housing, Frankie said “It sounds horrible but work on the basis that people aren’t going to pay – keep yourself covered. It’s also important to communicate before choosing who to live with. Have conversations with who you are thinking of living with – what you expect, how you want the house to look. Do you want to share chores? Cook together?”
Even before going into first year, problems with booking accommodation can occur – especially when halls are oversubscribed. First-year Psychology with Criminology student Emma Parr discussed the challenges of finding private accommodation.
“I had NTU as my insurance choice, so I accepted NTU’s offer on results day and applied for accommodation earlier on that day, but for some reason, they prioritise clearing applicants over insurance choices, so I was basically at the bottom of the list.” Looking for housing in a city she had never lived in came with a range of problems, and Emma narrowly avoided a dodgy landlord.
“So I was pretty desperate by that point, and we went down to see his house that we found on a website called Rentashare. However, we got suspicious of him because he had a different name on his bank account and the details on the contract were also not his. As he used a company’s name that we found didn’t exist and he wasn’t a registered landlord.”
Eventually, Emma found a place with Miura, a private halls, which came with its own problems. They were not ready for students on the move-in day, there were problems with facilities, and overall she just was not impressed for the price.
So what advice does she have? “Just be careful and aware that you don’t have as much protection than you would if you got a uni hall. And read the contract!”
More problems with landlords were shared by final year Animation student Charis Dussek, who is having to take legal action as the result of her housing issues this year. Despite living in the house for both second and third year, the problems did not really start until this academic year.
“We were told he was going to do some work over the summer between our first and 2nd year of living there, but when we moved back in late September, the 3rd bedroom was missing all the plaster from two walls, and the room was like a dumpster full of junk.” One of the girls in the flat had to make the living room her bedroom – and they were still paying full price! Even when their concerns were raised with the estate agents, nothing was done about the problems. At the moment, they are still waiting to know whether they will receive any compensation. This lack of a social space also had a significant impact on their final year experience, as they were unable to have groups of friends over or have pres – in what was their last chance to socialise together.
Charis says, “Always ask the current tenants if there have been any issues rather than the estate agents – I flat out heard the lady showing people around our flat say that there were no damp problems when someone asked about it, which was a blatant lie, so the tenants are more likely to be truthful than the estate agents.”
So there you have it. And I thought I had it bad with noisy flatmates and washing up left out! Are you really looking forward to second-year accom now?
Written by Frankie Galton
Feature image credit: @christnerfurt – Unsplash