Report blasts University of Hertfordshire students’ accommodation

A DAMNING report into the state of off-campus student accommodation has been released by the University of Hertfordshire Students’ Union.

Research into students’ perception of privately rented housing in Hatfield was undertaken by union president Nica de Koenigswarter, and found a majority felt the quality of housing supplied by landlords and estate agents was poor.

Many of the problems centre around an apparent “discrimination” towards students, with slow response time to maintenance issues and difficulties retrieving deposits at the end of their tenancy.

Now Ms de Koenigswarter is calling for the introduction of an accreditation scheme and for landlords to undertake a full independent inventory at the start and end of a tenancy.

And she wants the University of Hertfordshire and the Students’ Union to work in partnership to make students aware of their rights as tenants.

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In her report, Ms de Koenigswarter writes: “This is perhaps the clearest evidence to ensure both a good student experience and the welfare of students at the University of Hertfordshire, a landlord accreditation scheme should be initiated as soon as possible.”

A total of 605 students took part in the study, around five per cent of Hatfield’s student population.

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The biggest complaint was over cleaning disputes, with the second regarding problems retrieving deposits.

“A staggering 50.5 per cent of students have rated their overall accommodation as either Poor, Very Poor or Neither Good nor Poor,” Ms de Koenigswarter said.

“It is unacceptable to have such a large population of people in such poor accommodation.”

But Debbie Norris, principle of Mather Marshall estate agents in Hatfield – one of the letting agents named in the reports – hit back.

“It is amazing how some the tenants leave the properties at the end of the tenancy,” she said. “We have been subjected to used condoms under beds, vomit down walls and bed mattresses, blood soaked mattresses, filthy carpets and kitchens that are a health hazard.

“And they have made no effort to remove rubbish, or even remove their food from the fridge freezers, which they have turned off so the food is rotten.”

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