The allegations

The City of Lincoln Accreditation Scheme, of which the university and Students’ Union are partners among others, lists Lighthouse as an approved student accommodation provider for its “safe, secure, well managed” housing. So at first glance the company’s reputation looks glowing.

Its website claims: “Lighthouse understands the issues faced by students and has successfully developed a student property service to meet those needs. From the moment you meet with our student lettings team you will know that you will be safe in our hands.”

The reality appears to be very different.

­­Tom Anstey, who has just graduated in journalism, said: “I was with them in second year. They barely turned up when we had problems, including a sofa which would collapse whenever anyone sat on it.”

Anstey, along with his housemates, were charged for replacing a toaster, a bin, a hoover, stains on a wall and carpet, and a broken door. “That would be fine,” says Anstey “except we had to buy a toaster    because they didn’t supply us with one; we had to buy a bin for the same reason; the hoover never worked despite our requests it be fixed; the stains were pre-existing; the door was broken when we looked round the house let alone when we moved in.”

Sophy Rex, now a media production graduate, also lived in a Lighthouse property when she was in her second year. “We were robbed by previous tenants and they refused to change the locks. I had to ring up the police and send them round to Lighthouse to order they change our locks. Our electric cut out at 9pm at night and despite the 24hour emergency helpline no one came to fix the problem until the following evening. We had no heating for a whole year despite constantly badgering them about it.”

Rex claims she and her housemates left the property in a better state than when they moved in, yet were charged over a hundred pounds each from their deposits “including £9 to replace light bulbs that were never there when we arrived”.

She lived with Lighthouse again in her third year, “foolishly” as she puts is, and because Lighthouse manage a large amount of student properties in Lincoln. Her problems continued, she alleges: “The house was not fire safe. When I told Lighthouse they said it was not their responsibility, so I called Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and they spoke to Lighthouse and demanded that they do it.

Also we signed a contract saying that all bills were included in the cost of the rent, so when we were told we had to top up the gas and electric meters with our own purchased cards, it took months of complaining and forcing… them to sort their act out. Eventually I moved into Pavillions after all the hassle.”

Eventually, Rex says, after taking Lighthouse to a tenancy deposit dispute service, she clawed back £60.

Another media production graduate, Jonathan Stone, lived in a Lighthouse property on Carholme Road. He and his housemates moved in to a house with a gas leak, some plug sockets hanging out of the wall, a bathroom door that was too small to fit the frame – which was also rotting – and a broken toilet seat.

During his tenancy he had to have three faulty ovens replaced, at one time having a condemned gas oven sitting out of the front of his house for several days. One of the ovens wasn’t replaced for three weeks, despite only the hob being in working order.

Finally, when he left the property, the house was charged £60 for the bathroom to be cleaned, in spite of it being fully cleaned before everyone left. Stone took photos of the property before leaving, including of the bathroom, and another housemate emailed Lighthouse to show that the bathroom was clean.

Stone says: “We wrote a letter of complaint in March and we had no reply. Why? We sent an email regarding costs a month ago and have had no reply. Why?”

James Dean, who graduated three years ago, recalls his experiences with Lighthouse: “When we moved in and walked up the stairs, the stairs collapsed as they were so rotten. [We had] no oven for over two months and no hot water or heating for over two months — we had to take baths and showers at other people’s houses.

Dean also alleges that as his tenancy approached the end, Lighthouse staff went into the property while he was away and took some of his items – including a mini fridge. Lighthouse told Dean they had taken it to the dump. “There was still a week left on the tenancy and funnily enough they didn’t take stuff like bedding to the dump along with the expensive stuff. They had no right to do this, but I was so exasperated with how shit they were I just wanted to cut ties with them.”

Tim Gardiner, a student who lived on Portland Street with his girlfriend, claims Lighthouse staff would turn up without giving notice – despite the tenancy agreement stating they had to give at least 48 hours notice. “We didn’t have much of a problem with this as we expected it, but they did come round when I asked them not to due to my girlfriend being unwell.

“The main problem was when we moved out. We took time to clean from top to bottom and felt we left it in a good condition and handed the keys back. We received letters around three or four weeks later regarding charges from our deposits and a cheque for the amount left over each. We were charged for a full house clean at £140 between us. We felt this was unfair and I contacted them myself asking for a copy of the report that led to them charging us £140.

“I was sent an email with some photos they had taken of a few bits we had missed, such as under one cushion on the sofa we had not vacumed, and water damage to grouting in the kitchen and the oven. We had cleaned these and expected there maybe some charges due. However we did not feel that it required a ‘full house clean’ as the rest of the house was in very good condition.”

Gardiner says Lighthouse did not send him a report or itemised billing, even when he asked for it again. He then called them and was told by a receptionist it was being dealt with by a separate department and he would be contacted shortly. A few days later he received an email saying there was no breakdown of issues in the house that led to them belieiving it warranted a full house clean.

“I did not feel treated well at all.”

David Methold, a journalism graduate, lived on Charles Street West in a Lighthouse property. “One of the main problems for me was that my bed was broken. I reported it broken in September and I reported it to them no less than seven times from then until May and nothing was done about it.
“Every time I reported it they said they would tell the landlord. I never heard anything from the landlord in the whole year. When I asked to have the phone number for the landlord they wouldn’t give it to me so there was nothing I could do. Whether is because I’ve been sleeping on a broken bed or something else, I am currently taking painkillers to try and cure back pain.

Methold and his housemates were burgled by a tenant in the neighbouring property and lost a number of personal items. “When we got burgled we politely asked [Lighthouse] to come and change the locks and it took them two weeks to do this, so we had to live with broken locks on our doors.”
He also takes issue with some deductions from his deposit at the end of his tenancy: “£60 for waste removal? So you’re telling me it costs them £60 to drive to a dump and get rid of some bin bags? I don’t think so. We left 2 bags outside our house when we left as we had no way of getting them to a tip and they charged us £15 each for 2 bin bags.”

Communication was a further problem: “Getting hold of them all year was an absolute nightmare, not once did they respond to any complaints I had.”
Laura Lucas, a 2009 psychology and criminology graduate, claims she had many issues with Lighthouse. She says there was a hole in a bedroom window that wasn’t fixed for the whole tenancy, despite it being reported; Lighthouse failed to fix a faulty boiler that kept losing water pressure, instead temporarily fixing it each time rather than dealing with the root problem; and the household was charged for removal of items that were in the property before they moved in.

Lighthouse staff claimed one tenant’s mattress had a stain on it when she moved out. However she had taken a photo of her room and mattress before she left. When a comparison was made with a photo Lighthouse had taken, it was clear that the two mattresses were different. This was taken up with Lighthouse, who said the mattress had been disposed of and they could not take another photo to prove it – therefore the money deducted from her deposit was refunded.

A charge was also deducted from their deposits for “excess electricity”. They hired a sunbed for a month and during this month a member of Lighthouse staff made a visit to the house with a client – without giving notice.

They were then told that the property was under investigation for excessive electricity use. Lucas claims that on several occasions the housemates attempted to resolve this issue by calling and visiting the office asking of any further progress in the investigation, the final time being on the day they moved out.

They were told that there was no charge on their accounts. However, when they got their deposits back, £25 had been taken off each, equating to £125 for excess electricity — nearly a month’s worth extra. Having sent a letter, it took two months and several phone calls to get a reply. Eventually they all received cheques back for the £25 deducted and an apology.

What Lighthouse said

This is what Ian Thornton, Lighthouse’s managing director, had to say…

At Lighthouse we take customer care and complaints very seriously, and it is our policy to deal with problems as quickly as possible.

We deal with on average 1,500 students in rented accommodation each year, many of whom are housed in terraced properties which in some cases are over 100 years old.

Each house must meet strict criteria issued by the university’s accommodation department in line with their code of practice.

It is inevitable that things go wrong from time to time. Boilers break, contents get damaged, and so on. This is part and parcel of dealing with student accommodation. However it is our policy to respond to complaints as efficiently as possible and if we are failing to meet customers’ expectations then this is something we will address.

However we are unable to fix a problem if we are not properly informed about it in the first place. What is disappointing about some of these complaints is that they are being made a long time after the student has vacated our property (in one case the complaint concerns a property we removed from our books back in 2007).

Telling us about such problems three years later leaves us unable to rectify any issues. We do take complaints seriously so we investigated all of the eight grievances The Linc has highlighted out of our database of 4,500 student tenancies  over the past three years. 

Burglary and student safety is always a concern so we deal very promptly with such matters.

The alleged burglary in this case was investigated by the police who found no evidence of a break-in. The property met with all our security standards and a ‘suited key’ system was in place.

Gas leaks are understandably always a concern. However, they can occur in any property and what is important is how they are dealt with. In our case Transco were contacted immediately and a qualified plumber sent round to fix the leak.

All our properties are inspected on a yearly basis by a qualified gas engineer.

We regret any inconvenience that Mr Gardiner’s girlfriend encountered when his property was visited by one of our inspectors, but to say he was not forewarned in this case is simply not true.

Each year we run a period in conjunction with the university when future tenants are  invited to look round properties. All tenants are forewarned with a letter stating the dates and times when we may need to view the property. We warn that this may result in multiple viewings per day. None of these visits ever takes place  before 9am or after 5pm so as not to encroach on people’s private lives. Mr Gardiner was made aware of this, especially as he would have been one of the students taking part in the process last year.

It was also with much interest that I read the comments regarding an excess electricity charge, in this case brought on by installing a sun bed in the property! By doing so the tenants were in fact in breach of their contract. sun beds are notorious for using excessive amounts of electricity, so by rights we did charge for this. However when we saw the actual bill and understood that the clients had not exceeded their amount, we asked the landlord to refund the difference (despite him not being legally required to do so).

Lighthouse strives to be the best and most proactive lettings management company in Lincoln. On the whole our customers are satisfied and we have good feedback from the university. Any problems our tenants have are dealt with by our team of dedicated accommodation officers.

Our own internal investigation found that several of the aforementioned tenants went on to rent more accommodation from us for a number of years, which suggests that they were generally happy with the service we provide.

24 thought on “Accommo-gedden: the light shines on Lighthouse Property Services”
  1. “However we are unable to fix a problem if we are not properly informed about it in the first place”
    “Telling us about such problems three years later leaves us unable to rectify any issues”
    Perhaps they should listen to themselves and actually deal with the problem when the complaint is made!

  2. Lighthouse are awful my boyfriend was charged for removal of waste which was there when they moved in, amongst other things…he was even charged for them to remove a pen left on the side! They just want to take students for all the money they can and unfortunately some students don’t argue back so Lighthouse get the money.

    On the subject of student accommodation Lincoln Lets, name recently changed to Jigsaw properties, should be looked into for many of the same reasons. We discovered we had rats when they chewed through the wire to the washing machine, when the vermin control man came to sort out the problem he told us they had been there for a while and he had even been called to the property the previous year to remove them and the hole he told them to block up had not been filled in. Lincoln Lets were extremely rude when I complained about the rats and we had to wait for the problem to be completely sorted. We had no gate to our property which we were promised would be there when we moved in so we had people going through our bins. Our back yard was used as a dumping ground for the landlords old washing machines, fridges etc. and on multiple occasions we had men in our back yard to steal the copper wiring. We had a skip on our drive for weeks which was not only a health hazard but blocked our exit from the back of the property if there were a fire…the list goes on and one…

    The University need to be more vigilant when granting Accreditation as they seemingly give it to every student letting company in Lincoln. When I was a Hall Rep we were told we were not allowed to influence the first year students decisions of which company to go for even if we had bad experiences with some. So the University is clearly aware of the issues.

    In complete contrast to Lighthouse and Lincoln Lets (Jigsaw Properties) APS are an absolutely amazing student letting agency in Lincoln and I would recommend them to any University of Lincoln student.

  3. I used to live in a property on Carholme Road, i moved out in June. We waited for the return of our deposits and when we eventually got them we realised we had been charged for waste removal. The waste was builders materials which clearly wasn’t ours, but we shrugged this charge off.
    I personally got charged £7.50 for a room key, which WAS returned as it was attatched to the house key and had been for the two years i’d lived in the property. My housemate was charged £90 but she didn’t even get a letter telling her what the charge was for, when i enquired about this on the 9th of September i was told that somebody would look in to it and get back to me that day. It’s now the 23rd and i’ve heard nothing.
    I will be paying them a visit next weekend… watch this space.

  4. yes, Lighthouse refunded our money regarding the ‘excess electricity’ – Just a shame it took a threat of legal action for them to become helpful and actually take the time to revise the bills and find no excess use. Convenient!!!

  5. Ian Thornton mentions 8 grievances, I make it 8 complainants but most had more than one grievance, I stopped counting at 30.

    He only answers 4 of them. – I would be interested to hear his comments on all the complaints made. Perhaps they couldn’t be easily explained away?

  6. “The alleged burglary in this case was investigated by the police who found no evidence of a break-in.”

    Really?! I would say there was pretty hard evidence in that the guy admitted and got convicted of burglary!

  7. I’m unfortunate enough to be living with Lighthouse; we were told in no uncertain terms that a TV and TV License were included in our rent, but when me moved in – no TV, and a few weeks later, letters from TV Licensing.

    After going in a couple of times, and another letter later, I arranged a meeting with one of their directors in accordance with their complaints procedures.
    I was quite simply told by her that I was a liar, despite having 4 witnesses – 2 completely independant and unrelated to our contract – and she still insisted I was making it up despite having not been present when the first conversation took place.
    If one of us didnt already have one which we transferred over, we would have taken the matter to court simply on principle.

    All I can say is that, from my personal experience as a current resident, they will do anything to take money off students, including breaching their contractual obligations and fobbing customers off with their own ignorance.

    Staff are rude, unhelpful, patronising beyond belief and seem to have no idea of what they are talking about.

    I certainly won’t be living with lighthouse next year, and will be advising anyone who directly asks about them of my experiences and their generally poor reputation!

  8. None of this surprises me..
    I wrote a letter to light house asking of evidence to why I was charged £60 as a “contribution towards damages” in my bedroom! When I got to the property I was almost in tears.. as my bedroom was flithy.. I had to spend the day cleaning it before I could move into it..When I got there .. the bed was broken and so was the wardrobe.. but when I rung lighthouse.. the response to the broken wardrobe was – will it still hold clothes? So i said yes – and lighthouse where fine with it… as for the bed.. I had a smilar question – can you still sleep in it.. I said yes.. as I could get used to the slope and i could sleep on one side of it! Therefore lighthouse clearly seemed unbothered.. but it now looks like this £60 – could have been towards these items..

    The other amusing thing is – when I rung up lighthouse and questioned them on why I had been charged this £60.. the bloke at lighthouse looked at the pictures of my room and said ” I cant see anything wrong with it” .. and advised me to write to them.. so I did… about 4 weeks ago… have I heard anything NO!!

    I’m not a student rep or anything.. so students.. I therefore advice you to go with another company.

  9. “in one case the complaint concerns a property we removed from our books back in 2007” yeah we complained several times and were ignored hence losing the vast majority of our deposit. Ignored then removed.. great customer service there lighthouse

  10. Been with Lighthouse 3 years, million times better then pavilions who were appalling!!! Had a few glitches, but their service has been top notch for us in 2 different properties. Always friendly, helpful and respond quickly. Its common sense to take photos and your own log when moving in, during your time there and upon leaving. We pay our rent on time, keep them up to date and record every conversation and email just in case. Think people here just need to be more worldly wise when it comes to handling a tenancy agreement.

  11. I lived in a Lighthouse property in my first year, with my now ex boyfriend. It wasn’t a student let, but i agree with most of the complaints. My deposit was the total of the rent so £325, i lost £160 due to bin bags left in the waste bin ( that they needed to take to the tip apparently) and from the house being unclean. Yet my dad helped me clean it top to bottom, and the moment we moved in the house had mold all over the walls, to which we were told to open windows. With the heating not working properly due to the boiler ( Our boiler constantly broke down, and instead of replacing it, they had to come round more than 5 times to temporarily fix it.) we felt we couldnt have the windows open all the time. And nothing was done about the mold.

    We had a broken garage door, that took months to fix, a drunk guy that lived in the house behind that on one occasion threw a guy against our garage, making it more broke. He also set fireworks off outside our house and aimed them at the studen accomodation opposite (courts).

    I would never recommend Lighthouse to anyone, especially after the way I was treated.

  12. Typical “only 1% of our customers complain” response. The fact is that we know of 1% already, I wonder what a true survey would highlight.

    Best piece of journalism I’ve read for a while, worst response from a company I’ve read too.

  13. We are currently living with lighthouse and it is an absolute joke.

    The house has not been wired properly, the whole floor in one bedroom is rotten and the house is riddled with damp.

    I complained to lighthouse via email 6 times before anyone came to look at the problems. When they did come round they claimed that the damp in my room was my fault as I had a wet towel on my radiator, even though the damp was there when I moved in. They were also extemely rude and intimidating.

    We also have a broken hoover and the house is not fire safe with a broken smoke alarm and main exit doors that can only be locked from the inside with a key. They are yet to sort this, despite us having moved in 3 months ago.

    Take my advice and DO NOT RENT FROM LIGHTHOUSE!

  14. I live in the property with Lois (comment above) and we are currently trying to move as all 6 of us in the house are unhappy. I am fed up with coming home everyday to find something else has happened in the house. Our landlord owns our property and the property attached and we have seen them in the property next door on a number of occasions while the tenants were away for the summer. There are too many things to name on top of what Lois has already mentioned.
    If you want stress on top of your studies then rent from lighthouse!!

  15. One thing that was highlighted to me by students following the elections was that Accommodation was a big issue, particularly regarding accommodation rights and obligations – ironically I discovered that for myself not 2 months after initially looking into how we could indeed form a campaign around this!

    My hope is to encourage and empower students to actively take a firm stand against their landlords wherever they are justified in doing so – I will be looking at it in more detail as the year goes on, and hope to tie it in closely with Kayleigh Taylor’s work on accommodation as well…

  16. Are you for real? Unfortunatley i had re-signed for a second year before realising they were money grabbing lying con artists. you should be able to trust you university landlords, not have to cover your back with evidence and transcripts all the time. i wouldnt even recomend lighthouse to someone i hated!! basically lighthouse, your bastards!!

  17. Great response guys lets keep it going, lets bring Lighthouse down for the joke of a company they are.

    I was one of the 4 greviences he did not answer to.

    When I phoned up Ian on Thursday to complain he had not seen the article, I hope he has now so he knows how much of a joke he is.

    I was told by him I would get a phonecall later that day and 4 days later no reply. Although looking at other comments above I shouldn’t expect one for a few weeks yet.

  18. Put simply they are not to be trusted, they take far too long to sort out problems. No hoover which took weeks to arrive ( we received an archaic broken second hand item which worked for all of two days) because they needed the landlord to verify the process and when we pointed out that we were in fact paying them we received nothing but rude comments. Me and my housemates went without heating for some time because though they tried to fix the problem they did so incompetently informing us that this was wrong then ‘actually it’s this’ then ‘nope it must have been the first thing’ before finally contracting a competent plumber in who informed us that the boiler was very old and had been needing to be replaced for a while. No walkthrough of the house when you move in but a simple inventory sheet isn’t very good quality assurance, tenants should be provided with documents dated and signed with pictures to prove that the house is in good condition and clean rather than us having to fight tooth and nail to get the service we were promised.

  19. Me and my housemates were fed up of numerous failures in the house. These included failure for a number of weeks to replace shelving in a bedroom that was very much needed for storage, but for an unknown reason had been removed. The promised free wireless internet took weeks to be installed and set up. The promised TV fitting took over a month to be installed. Desks missing from two bedrooms, that had been mysteriously removed like the shelving, took over a month to arrive.

    The problems have been dealt with by now but they wouldn’t have been if me and three other housemates hadn’t decided to take our own direct action of not paying our rent. After what became daily trips to the Lighthouse office on Carholme road, we made the decision to not pay the monthly sum of £300 for a month. A letter concerning this was sent. So we went and asked them why they were able to send us letters asking for money so quickly when things weren’t fixed quickly. The issues were fixed very quickly when the office realised how annoyed we were waiting for numerous things to be fixed.

    It is a shame that we had to resort to tactics like this to get things fixed because they should have managed this regardless. The people at the Lighthouse office were full of excuses and continually fobbed us off. The most common excuse was “We are very busy at the moment”. Well isn’t it their obligation to manage this?

  20. Complains were made at the time. I unfortunatley realised what lighthouse were like after signing up for another year. It felt like they were nice in the first year just to get us to sign up.

    I lived in a self-contained flat whith who is now my husband. Im currently in my third year and made excessive complaints at the time….but yet again they got nowhere. Three quaters of the second year was about them finding new tennants for the following year, so i had to endure them bringing prospective tennants round (i wouldnt mind if they had staed wihin the contract times….but they allocated 2-3 weeks at a time when they could just come round for the majority of the day. The term was it doesnt matter if ure not in….more like dont need to be in we will just let ourselves in anyway!!!!

    I often awoke to the knock of a door in the morning where i had to qucikly put on a dressing gown where there would be a lighthouse rep and 6 students behind (it was a very small 1 bed flat….how he thught they were all gonna fit i dont know. Anyway i told him he couldnt come in because i hadnt been informed they were visiting….hopefully the other students took the massive hint.

    They often left letters on my kitchen side saying the property had been inspected whilst i was out…after expressively stating that they could not come in without me being present.

    As i had witnessed them knocking on someones door, not getting a result and then using their key i was afraid to do anything within my own home. I was cared to have a shower (i have a phobia against locking the door). Had a mssive lack of privacy.

    I have made every effort to reccomend to fellow friends not to use their services.

    Thankfully i have got out of the student trap and gone to a private landlord, whom is amazing. Student properties just gives them a message saying tht they can walk all over you! Saying that though….i wont even use lighthouse for theor private ones.

  21. Hi
    I’m the father of an unfortuate student who used Lighthouse property services.
    The property is on Carholme Road (the same road as Lighthouse office)
    My first concern was that there was open access to the back (the rear gate and frame was broken) phone calls to lighthouse were a waste of time, it was’nt until I went in myself (on a visit the see my son) and demanded they secure the property, something was eventually done.
    But, the seed of doubt had now been planted, and I was sure I would have future problems with this company. How right I was!
    At the end of my son’s tenancy from the £270 deposit paid, Lighthouse returned £156.88. There were 5 tenants so that was a whopping £566 that was kept from the deposits paid.
    They sent the customary account, without going into detail, £220 house clean, £60 Bathroom clean £100 rubbish removal,£80 oven clean etc, etc, oh and a cost of a replacement iron! THERE WAS NO IRON! WE HAD TO BUY ONE!!!
    Prior to leaving, the tenants cleaned the house, removed rubbish to the front of the property, cleaned bathrooms. I know they did, I was there on my sons last day!!!
    I spoke to Lighthouse then sent them a letter demanding the receipts for all this cleaning, replacing and repairing, after waiting far too long for a reply, spoke to them again, A nervous sounding manager informed me that they were having a meeting the week after and would let me know the outcome.
    They sent me a CD with pictures of all the mess my son and the other tennants had made.
    The first picture was a cereal packet left on a work top, another picture was of the bathroom that showed mould in the tile grout-line (which I assure you is over 2 years of mould growth) The CD made me even more annoyed and made me feel as I had even more evidence to fire back at Light house (They did not send me any receipts)
    So as you read this, the dispute is on-going, I will update and inform you of how this goes.
    But I had to put this early warning on this site now. DO NOT USE LIGHT PROPERTY SERVICES! unless you have money to burn.


  22. I lived with Lighthouse in my third year and it was such a bad decision! They were horrendous. We were in a three bed house, which was damp and full of mold when we moved in. The damp was so bad in one room that they had to re-floor/carpet/damp-proof the walls and re-paint. This only took them two to three months! They started the damp-proofing, realised the room was much worse than they thought and just left it for months on end… but they left it in a state so it was uninhabitable for my room mate, IT HAD NO FLOOR!. He was on my bedroom floor/sofa/friends houses for the duration. We complained and got our parents involved… to which they only refunded him a small amount of money, they are an absolute joke. This is one of the many things they did wrong. HOW IS THIS AWFUL COMPANY STILL GOING? Does anybody know how to leave feedback on their site? They only seem to show ‘good’ testimonials or does anyone know how to complain about then to the University?

  23. This company is shoddy and they try to use arrogance and bullying tactics with the students. they are not very well run and make ALOT of mistakes, which my self as a tenant was able to pull apart and successfully gain my deposit back. Avoid at all costs, or if you feel the need to go through them, then make sure you take your own photographic evidence, keep copies of all paperwork (before and after), note of times and e-mails to company its self. As this will be your saving grace once handing over.

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