Student house of horrors: a shock in Sunderland

PUBLISHED 29-August-2020 · UPDATED 02-September-2020


Welcome to a series; one which could be endless due to the sheer amount of horror experienced by students across the UK when it comes to student renting.

As students our innocence goes awfully deep. We are easy targets, wrongly seen as fools who will chuck our student loan at anything that says ‘bills included’. This makes us appear easy to manipulate and therefore we often wind up being mugged off when it comes to renting.

Unfortunately, we’re sometimes greeted with crusty rooms, suspicious stains and rickety furniture. Not to mention the overgrown gardens… if you are lucky enough to have one, that is. Additionally, the jungle of weeds that comes with such a treat. It’s probably worth noting that a lawn mower is not included. More often than not these problems come hand-in-hand with privately rented student accommodation.

There is something about being young and inexperienced that makes landlords and letting agents think we enjoy living in squalor. As though we won’t raise complaints as we are easy-going and placid. As if we thrive when living with rodents. That, as we grow into adults, we’ll do so alongside the growing mould on our bathroom and/or bedroom ceiling(s).
They’re wrong.

This series is dedicated to and in justice for the unsung inhabitants and their wretched experiences. From vermin infestations, cowboy landlords and unstable, mould-covered ceilings. These unlucky folks have seen, felt and heard it all…
The first victims we hear from attend the University of Sunderland.

In a house of seven, these students were still outnumbered by mice. The nooks and crannies meant candles and reed diffusers were replaced by mouse traps and poison in each room of the house for a majority of the year. Forking out on rent is enough, let alone spending their student loan on rodent bait boxes!

Sharing many rodent-like features was their landlord. Notoriously intimidating, the residents of this abode lived in a permanent state of anxiety by a landlord who alarmed and unnerved them. Even before their morning coffee had been poured, you couldn’t feel safe…
‘The landlord embarrassed one of the tenants in the street…we forgot to put the bins out and the landlord made a tenant run after the bin lorry down the street at 7 am…they didn’t even have uni that day!’

It’s no surprise that these students lived in fear of their landlord. This is an individual who spoke down on them with ‘no respect or professionalism’ – a common theme from student landlords in our experiences. Being allocated a landlord is a bit of a roulette game anyway, one which these students unfortunately drew the short straw on.

What’s more, a major leak in the shared bathroom (which, of course, was reported but never repaired) meant the ceiling hung in jeopardy over their heads and for a long while the tenants lived in constant fear of collapse. Even ‘after months of the landlord being aware’ in attempts to get the issue fixed, it meant sitting on the toilet or taking a long shower could never be as relaxing as it was meant to be.

Your home is meant to be a sanctuary of escapism and comfort. It should take you away from all the stresses and the nasties of the outside world. As a result, it isn’t very settling to have maintenance workers stumble into your room, whilst you’re asleep and in very minimal clothing. At least they turned up on this occasion! Getting someone to fix these problems (not like they ever were properly fixed) was few and far between. Nine times out of ten, no one would even turn up to amend the reported issues and so living with mice and unpredictable ceilings became the norm for these unfortunate seven.

If only there were a place, like a website or something, where you could publicly out these menacing landlords and ominous estate agents to prevent future students facing the same problem…

(psst… we’re talking about Unilet Advisor! From the 5th of September you can leave ratings and reviews about the properties you’ve rented whilst studying)

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