A University of Lincoln graduate whose accommodation was left without hot water for ten weeks has launched an anonymous landlord reviewing site for students.

Natasha Leya Hopewell. Photo: CribAdvisor

23-year-old Natasha Leya Hopewell was inspired to set up ‘Crib Advisor’ by her experience of student housing, where landlords were letting themselves into her room unannounced for house viewings.

At the end of her tenancy, Natasha and her house-mates were also landed with £3,000 extra on their utility bill as the letting agent claimed that they had gone over their cap – despite them checking throughout the year if they had done so.

After a year studying abroad in Norway, Natasha returned to Lincoln only to be stuck with the same letting agent as before, eventually entering into another dispute with them that escalated into her signing a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from discussing it.

Now, law graduate Natasha, along with house-mate Laurence Thorpe and friend Dominic O’ Connor, has launched the reviewing platform which is aimed specifically at Lincoln students.

As well as landlords and letting agents, students are also able to review university halls, and the hosts will be able to respond to these reviews.

CribAdvisor being promoted at the Freshes Fayre. Photo: Natasha Leya Hopewell.

Natasha said: “Instead of condemning landlords with a bad review we’re inviting them to create a profile with us so that they can respond and act on these reviews.

“We’re letting them be part of the communication instead of bad rumours spreading by word of mouth.

“It’s also helping the smaller players in the market because we have a ranking system where smaller companies can be up there with the big players.

“Hopefully, by doing this we can make a tenancy improve by the end of a student’s year and turn a bad experience into a positive outcome.”

If a student’s experience does improve during their tenancy, the site also offers them the chance to update their review accordingly.

Since being established in time for Freshers Week, the site has already had over 300 reviews posted on it and Natasha says that landlords and letting agents have been very ‘receptive’ of the idea so far.

She added: “After my tenancy, I was talking to students and realising that nine out of ten had something go wrong with their accommodation.

“In my case we managed to get our utility bill down in the end but that was purely because of my legal knowledge that had come from doing my course, and I was worried about the vulnerability of students who wouldn’t know how to stand up to bad practices.”