Examples of “unsatisfactory or unacceptable” conditions included mould, damp or general uncleanliness. When asked to elaborate, the issues included broken windows, missing furniture, food left behind from previous tenants and, in one case, faeces on the floor.
After continuous horror stories circulated about the state of student housing, we took a sample of 110 students who have lived in Newcastle. The survey asked students whether their landlords had ever been unresponsive, whether they had struggled to get back deposits and what the quality of their housing was.
One former student told the Courier:
“We had rats living in our student house for more than a week before our letting agent finally sent pest control round. We had a leak from both our bathroom light and extractor fan for months before our letting agent finally had it fixed, meaning that it was not only a massive electrocution hazard but we had to shower in the dark for months because we were scared to turn the light on.
“Because students aren’t as aware of their rights, letting agents and landlords continually exploit them. Students aren’t as naive as they are thought to be, however, and this may come to bite the landlords back.”
Housing conditions were not the only problems that were reported. The survey illuminated a wide dissatisfaction with student housing, with 73% of students dealing with unresponsive landlords during their tenancy and 42% struggling to reclaim their deposit once they move out.
"We had rats living in our student house for more than a week"
Anonymous Newcastle student
Walton Robinson, a somewhat infamous letting agency among Newcastle students, was one of the companies that survey-takers were the least satisfied with.
32 students who took the survey had lived in a Walton Robinson property. Of those 32, 18 reported that their landlords had been unresponsive and 14 claimed that their property was in an unacceptable condition when they had arrived.
A tweet was published in September 2019 by user @TEasby stating:
“If you live in Newcastle as a student and you’re looking for a estate agents AVOID Walton Robinson. Been waiting months for our deposit to be refunded (£2326). After bullshit reductions. They finally send some of it today. This is split between 7 of us as well. Not even 6p each.”
The user then clarified: “Just to be clear our full deposit was over £3000 but we got charged £360 for a full house clean. Even after we cleaned it top to bottom. Now they are willing to part way with 40p. Madness. Avoid them”.
The original tweet retweeted 319 times and liked by 1.1k people.”
"If you live in Newcastle as a student AVOID Walton Robinson."Twitter user @TEasby
Postgraduate student Charlotte Paige Boulton believes that Newcastle University should be doing more to protect students.
“The University and the Union should help students find fair landlords and not promote companies that are known for ripping off students and providing unsafe living conditions.”
A spokesperson for Walton Robinson said:
“As a responsible residential accommodation agent we work closely with our landlords to provide high quality homes for students in Newcastle every year. We help more than 6000 students move in and out of properties each year and we have robust procedures, which are approved by the Association of Letting Agents and the Property Ombudsman, and work with our landlords, on the rare occasions we need to resolve any tenant issues.”
Featured Image: Pexels