Student accommodation — the worst offenders

An investigation by The Linc has revealed unsatisfactory standards of student accommodation in Lincoln. Univerisity of Lincoln students feel let down by approved accommodation companies. 
Being locked into contracts, broken appliances, surly staff, break-ins, and noise pollution are just some of the horror stories students have to tell about their accommodation.

Photo: Samuel Cox
Photo: Samuel Cox

Sian Edge, who previously lived in Courts, says the kitchens “had not been renovated so the cupboards weren’t the best and were starting to give up the ghost”. Alex Scott, another former Courts’ resident agreed with this, and says: “The kitchen was out-dated and the oven sucked, especially the hob.”

Michael Ball, the residential services manager for Courts, said: “[They] are in the middle of a rolling programme to upgrade kitchens, of which over 50% have been refurbished over the past three years”.

Angela Lopes only lived in Danesgate for a month but “hated every day of it”. She says the “installations were pretty bad and the whole building was falling apart”. But she says: “The rooms were alright, quite big and comfortable.”

A representative for Danesgate said the building was old and they had not spent money on the outside, but inside they have tried to make them as comfortable as possible for students.

Some students encountered problems when they tried to end their contract early, and found themselves locked into the agreement.
One student, who used to live in Club Easy’s Hayes Wharf development, decided to move out and was told she had to find a replacement: “They did say it was mainly my responsibility to find a replacement tenant, but the contract says they would help advertise where I could not, such as on their own website. They never did this.”

Tess Hebblewhite, the group development manager for Club Easy in Lincoln, says: “If a student no longer wants the room they are responsible to find a replacement as per the contract. We will assist but ultimately it’s down to them to find a replacement. This is general practice.”

Another student had a similar issue with The Junxion. She was impressed with the show room, as it was “new and modern”, and was told her room would be up to the same standard. When she saw her own room she felt it was “older” and decided to leave.

She was told to “find a replacement or pay rent for the rest of the year”, which she disagreed with. She started going through her contract and even “thought about going to a lawyer”. Eventually she approached the Students’ Union, who directed her to the welfare officer who managed to get her money back. Mainstay, who own The Junxion, did not respond to The Linc before this issue went to print.

The response time to maintenance issues has caused concern amongst students as well, with Lighthouse Properties, who manage approximately 300 properties in Lincoln, being one of the worst. Tenants of Lighthouse properties have said their washing machines, ovens, and boilers have broken down and they did not get replacements quickly enough.

Jacqui Todd, a Lighthouse spokeswoman, says: “Heating and hot water problems are considered a priority issue and as such we attend [the] same day… If a problem is unable to be resolved then portable heating is provided and, if there is likely to be a delay, then hot water heaters are also supplied.” She also explained that Lighthouse “are subject to appointment times by the likes of the maintenance companies”.

Kier Lymn lived in Pavilions for the first two years of his degree and had problems with the staff: “My main gripe with the Pavilions was that it was it is nothing to do with the university. It is not an educational establishment, as such, but they used to treat you like naughty schoolchildren instead of customers who, fundamentally, pay their wages.”

As of September 2009 Campus Digs took over the management of Pavilions and said they could not comment on the behaviour of the previous staff.

Noise pollution is a key problem for Brayford Quays, despite it being a popular choice for students, as it is located right next to Scream. Lesley Mawson, the accommodation manager, has advised anybody who is disrupted by Scream to contact the Environmental Health department at the city council. She says: “I referred this to the [department], who are investigating it, as far as I know.”

There have been reports of theft in Park Court from rooms on the ground floor. Fenna Roberts, accommodation officer for the site, says they have addressed this issue: “We have liaised with the police to make it secure.” They hope to have more lighting and to introduce CCTV soon at the back of Park Court, where it is darker.

She also said: “This happens in the West End, and Lincoln as a whole, because students are easy pickings. People just need to be educated when they move in [and] shut their windows and close the curtains.”

4 Responses to Student accommodation — the worst offenders

  1. Nick Jackson says:

    When I was in Brayford Quays my biggest gripe was also with noise, although not from Scream (I was on the other side) or Christopher’s (which I was round the corner from) but somebody who, throughout the months of September to December, would parade around the health centre with a petrol powered leafblower every day at 6am.

  2. Phil says:

    I been following this thread, keep it going

  3. Emma says:

    So where is the best place to live whilst studying in Lincoln. I’m coming to Lincoln in September as a first year and am unsure what to sign up for. What’s best value and the cleanest place to be?

  4. Claire says:

    Pavilions is a nightmare of a place to live as a third year with a lot of work to do. It is insanely noisy and if you complain the most they do is post on Facebook ‘Please remember you have neighbours’….as if that makes a difference!

    The staff are useless also, they treat everyone like kids (despite being of a similar age to the students living there)