Last week someone posted on the Farnham Freshers Facebook group about a letting agency that they claimed were not doing things correctly, charging lots of money unnecessarily, and not being professional in the way they spoke to them. They wanted to start a petition to get the agency taken off of the UCA Accommodation website. I felt this wasn't really needed as I could go and speak to Accommodation first and ask if we can get it removed before taking greater action. The post started a discussion from other people that also had issues with the agency; thats one thing I love about our Freshers page is how we start discussions about important issues.

I thought the best way to start was to get people to message me with their experiences with the estate agents so that I could get enough information to pass onto accommodation so it wasn't just a case of me showing up and saying "We need to take them off the site because they're bad." I had a few in-depth responses which were so helpful, so thank you so much to the people that message me.

The people that messaged me have agreed to let me share their stories so you can look out for things in the future. These are unedited except for our removal of the agency's name.

Message One:

My boyfriend and his housemates in first year went without any heating or hot water for nearly three weeks when their boiler broke in the middle of winter. [The lettings agency] made no effort to fix the problem and gave them no apology. He also had severe mould growing in his room which was coming from the damp from the window as the old single glazing wasn't sealed properly. This was repeatedly reported to [the lettings agency] and they claimed to be replacing the Windows whilst they were all away at Christmas, this was a completely false promise. I was also with [the lettings agency] in first year and I can honestly say I've never met such unprofessional money grabbing individuals. In my boyfriends house his other housemates used to smoke in the house all the time which would affect his other housemates asthma, they reported them in hope that they would make an effort to do something about it but even with multiple empty threats of evicting the individuals and having caught them smoking themselves [the lettings agency] just appeared to not care because all they want is their money. In an email to my boyfriend [the lettings agency] said "any one who is caught smoking will receive a notice of eviction." They honestly care so little about the welfare of their tenants that evicting people who cause harm to another's health becomes too much effort for them. 

Message Two:

Was locked out of my room three times during my year with [the lettings agency]: First time - went to cook food in the kitchen, door locked itself, charged £100 Second time - went to bathroom, door locked itself, had to wait hours for someone to unlock it, charged £100 Third time - went to cook food, door locked itself, no-one would answer my calls or messages so had to go and get the fire brigade to open my room from the inside. When first told how much deposit we would get back, it was about 1/10th of the money we gave them as most of it was being taken out for professional cleaning. Once confronted about this they explained it was mainly the oven as that costs a lot to clean, so I told them I’d paint and clean the house including the oven to professional standard for free, in return they would only charge us if they thought professional cleaning was needed after. They didn’t charge us in the end, however they charged us all £40 each to remove a suitcase and cardboard box we left under the stairs. When I wrote about the company on the Freshers page, warning others not to go with them as it’s too expensive and not worth it, they then confronted me about it. They came to do the final check of the rooms, and when it came to mine they decided to have a chat with me afterwards. [Someone working for the lettings agency] then told me “and if you have a problem with the company, tell us personally” in a rather harsh tone, whilst getting rather close to me as if trying to show he was the bigger man. It was rather out of nowhere as well, seeing as we had been talking in a friendly tone beforehand.

Message Three:

I lived in 15 Dollis Drive in first year 2013/14. We were left without heating for two weeks because they were dragging their heels getting it fixed and it was only when we threatened telling the council they did anything. They charged us for damage done by their maintenance man when moving the thermostat. I also had issues with my housemates smoking in the house constantly despite it not being allowed and I have asthma so it was really dangerous for my health. I told them about this and they threatened action if it didn't stop but then did nothing as they would rather have the money than care about my health. In general they were incredibly unprofessional, giggling whilst doing inspections and basically acting like we were stupid because we are students. They charged us £80 a month each for bills in a house of 5 which had ancient shitty and Internet and utility usage which would have never come to £400 per month. I definitely support them being blacklisted as I have tried to warn students every year with no success and feel that [the lettings agency] should not be able to continue taking advantage of our students

Accommodation agreed that it wasn't acceptable and they also said that they wished more students would approach them to express these issues so they can nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. They agreed that they would get them taken off the website which is good and then we looked at the handover pack they offer to students about private accommodation and luckily they had already been removed from that.

If you have any issues around the university and want to just speak to me, please just pop in the SU or send me an email, I'll be more than happy to help with whatever I can.

Posted in: Blog, Farnham Blog on Monday, August 1st, 2016 by