This year has seen my eldest returning to uni but this time he will be house sharing with four other students, friends he has made while living in student halls last year. They have had a year of independence, almost sheltered in a way, by living in a corridor with 11 others and sharing a kitchen and a couple of bathrooms. They work out differences on their own and gravitate towards other students that they get on with or become friends with. As parents, although it breaks our hearts to see them go, it feels like they are still being supported if they are living on campus with all the facilities around them. My eldest goes to Sussex university and it was well equipped with a large Co op, a large cafe, launderette, bar, pharmacy and a GP surgery! I know not all uni’s are the same and some are spread around towns on different areas instead.
This year my son got together with a few friends and viewed some houses and went through the process of securing one with no adult help at all. We had know idea of what to expect (except for a street view of the address on Google maps) but he had warned us that it wasn’t a very up to date place but they were happy with it for the price that they have to pay……………in other words it was probably going to be a shithole!
So, we took him down last week to settle him in (and get a proper look at the place) with all his belongings. When we arrived another student who had collected the keys was being taken around going over the inventory ( not necessarily with what was in the house but more a list of damage and marks!). As my hubby and I glanced around I literally couldn’t believe it, maybe I am being naive but I certainly wasn’t expecting a house who’s decor had not been touched many, many years, with wardrobes that were definitely from the 1970’s. although, in fairness I think my son had probably the best room as apparently no one wanted to be downstairs at the from of the house- he didn’t care and so ended up with the biggest room (which would have been an original front lounge) with large shelves in the alcoves and a decent sized wardrobe (even though it had come from either a boarding school or an old sergeant’s/ officers mess it was labelled inside and had lots of smaller sections for clothes) and he was lucky enough to have a brand new mattress still in the wrapper.
As adults though, we could not believe the state of the place. It was clean to the touch (which I was actually surprised about) but the nets were ripped and stained and the curtains were hanging off! There were no lampshades on any of the lights, their communal room/ lounge was an actual conservatory which had the scabbiest seats in there and an old dining table with only 3 chairs (for 5 people). There was a radiator in there thankfully but no plug sockets so that they could maybe have a telly or something in there to at least sit together. So I expect they will bloody freeze in the winter!
So, we made sure every bit of damage or stains were on the inventory as the lady doing it said that landlords will do anything not to pay their deposits back. She advised them all to take pictures of how the rooms were set out as they charge £20 to move a piece of furniture if it’s not in the right place let alone anything else! We took picture evidence of his room including any damage, and the kitchen and the communal sitting room too. Now I know for a fact this wouldn’t be the worst student let ever but at the same time it’s a far cry from the best too. However, we could not believe literally how little landlords have to do legally in order to earn big money from these houses. This was considered a cheap property as my son and his friends are only paying about a tenner more each week than they were in halls but even so with 5 of them paying this landlord is taking in almost £2500 a month from this let and yet we had to take my son out and buy them a shower curtain and bath set as it was a clear window in the bathroom with no shower curtain up for any privacy! We had to buy more clips from the hardware shop to hold his curtains up properly. They had to invest in a kitchen bin and some door mats (as it was lino throughout so on a rainy day like the day he moved in, the floor was in a right state by the time we left). Thankfully they actually had a washing machine, which looked fairly new, which I was pleasantly surprised about and was a brilliant bonus.
There were also no door locks on any of the bedroom doors which I was slightly surprised about as they are all encouraged to get their own insurance but how can you be held responsible if someone else forgets to lock up when they go out and you have no other security for your belongings!
Anyway, my hubby and I came away thankful we don’t have to live there but happy that they all seemed excited to be moving in, and wondering why we aren’t in the business of student lets as it seems a big money maker for very little in my humble opinion.
I can guarantee there are lots of you with your own nightmare stories about either your own student lets- seriously I would love to hear them as it might just make me feel better about my son living in the hovel that he is!