Student accommodation and landlord nightmares

Freddie Parker on 17 March 2023
House interior in disrepair, peeling paint

We asked our workmates for some of their dodgiest student accommodation experiences.

Townhouses carved into as many bedrooms as possible. Slapdash extensions that turn a 3-bed into a 6-bed. Landlords who think they can pull the wool over students’ eyes. Even if you’re only in your first student house, you’ve probably experienced one of these. Here’s what our workmates had to share about their time in student housing:

Dodgy decorations

“Going for a bunch of viewings, most of them seem alright but none of them quite it. Especially not the one with a carpeted kitchen and bathrooms, it's just begging for water and food stains. Not to mention that it was decorated like a dentist's office from the 70s.”

Whose bins are they anyway?

“The details on this are sketchy - it was a long time ago… in my first year I lived in a shared house and our landlord owned a few in a row with a long shared garden. We all got into some kind of standoff with the landlord over whose responsibility the bins were. Something to do with access or something. The result was a garden full of weeks and weeks’ worth of bin bags - more bin than garden. I don’t remember how it was resolved, but I can tell you there was a significant rat population and I did not stay there for my second year.”

Mopping is good, no?

“In second year, the landlord was coming to the house to check on something that needed fixing so we made sure the house was really clean. We mopped the kitchen floor and it was mostly dry when he arrived. He went into the kitchen and was very angry that we had mopped the floor, said that you aren't supposed to EVER mop laminate floors and left very cross. Still confused about that encounter to this day 💀”

21 housemates

“For two years in college, I lived in a 21-bedroom historical housing cooperative (meaning, we all sat on a board of directors that collectively owned the house). I had 21 roommates, and the house was over 100 years old. It had a basement that no one EVER went into, called ‘the dungeon’. The house was absolutely beautiful, sat on a huge lake, and had a beautiful main ballroom, but it was also falling apart at the seams.”

Heeeeere’s landlord

“My landlord was great for the first year, he and his wife lived downstairs and there were two rooms let out to students. In my second year, my landlord used to get drunk and try to break my door down with a heavy wooden statue (bloody scary it was too, kind of like the Shining). I couldn't afford to move out or tell my folks what was going on, so I slept on my friend’s floor until I could find somewhere I could afford.”

Winter is coming

“Not technically my student house, but it was my boyfriend's so I spent a lot of time there in my second year. The landlord had put in an ‘extension’ to the kitchen to create a lounge and an extra bedroom. It was so badly done there was a literal hole between the walls and ceiling. It would leak all the time and in the winter we’d be sitting there fully dressed in coats, hats and scarves. It was so cold you could see your breath.”

A rollercoaster of a housing journey

“A mate and I went to view some houses/flats for our third year and this one flat we couldn't find on maps for about 20 minutes... Eventually, we found it (down a weird alleyway) and the estate agent was outside waiting. He opens the door to the communal recycling/rubbish space which turned out to be 1 of 2 front doors to the flat. 

“We went in and the flooring was like a primary school toilet, you know the weird plastic that's speckled and has a horrible feel to it. There were no windows in any bedroom, in the living room or the kitchen... The only source of light was in the hallway where they had cut a square from the ceiling and placed a plastic cover over it. Oh, and in one of the bedrooms was a pole (for pole dancing) which the estate agent tried to use as a main selling point.

“As you can imagine, we didn't move in... But the place we took instead ended up having a rat infestation in the kitchen and cracked away from the neighbour's house so we spent 1/4 of the year on a slant.”

Just a small gathering

“In my second year, my housemates told me they were 'having some people round' so I made myself scarce as I knew that would mean a big party. I came home the next morning to broken glass, mess everywhere, and someone sleeping in my bed next to a box of Shreddies and a handwritten note which read ‘Your boss called and asked where you were, I told him you were off sick’. I reckon he got the sack but I never found out. Kept the Shreddies.”

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Freddie Parker
Freddie Parker on 17 March 2023