The Joys of Student Accommodation Mollie Thorpe 2nd May 2014
So, not only were the fees increased the year I was lucky enough to attend University but I was placed in some of the most expensive accommodation on site. As lovely as this en suite flat was (and it was) with little to no fuss, we paid the University a lump sum around the time our loans had gone in (and straight out) of our bank accounts. After a few months in the flat, when you had made the friends you decided to live with next year comes the excitement of finding a house for second year. This is a false sense of security. And excitement. And independance. Firstly, the search for a the perfect house you and your friends are set on having. Well, this is just awkward. Finding a time you are all free that fits in with the somewhat demanding and rude estate agents is half the problem. But once you all find and dedicate that time to it, the houses, that you have tried so hard to view and built plans for the following year, are a disappointment to say the least. The old disintergrating Nan curtains they have ever so kindly placed in all the bedrooms, not to mention the mouldy damp carpet they have left for years; then there is the kitchen and bathroom. With the peeling lino in every corner, the milldew on the bathroom tiles and the rachet grumbled towel on drier. Never a pleasant experience. When your lucky enough to find a house half decent, and I mean as neutral as possible that resides in the same postcode as your campus, that excitement creeps up on you again. Only to be crushed, don't worry. Its likely that due to the high demand for houses by students for both their second and third years, all the agents find it acceptable to charge an extortinate price for the heep with windows and a front door; if one place can charge a lot, they all do as the competition increases. So, just as you feel the weight off your shoulders and think 'Great, I won't be homeless next year!', you realise you need to sign a contract that binds you for an entire year, pay £150-200 administration fees and around £400 for a deposit your likely never to see again. It was like selling my soul to the devil, but without any benefits. The contracts generally require the maintenance of the house, as expected, however they can also apparently make you liable for everyone else in the house. This is slightly problematic when the time comes to moving in and you find your friends aren't that at all, sometimes leaving you in the lurch and moving out. Yeah, that happens. Leaving you then to possibly cover rent and bills in a four bed when there is just two of you. I suggest living alone. Back to the house maintenance. As hard as it is already, moving into a house with four girls and the things you think you will need (you won't by the way), you have to squeeze into a car and travel for hours on end. So, you arrive. The house you have already paid out for over summer advertises the fact it is fully furnished, to find, everything has broken. House maintenance without the applicances can be tricky! Hoovers broken but the guy (not the landlord because your unlikely to actually ever see him) who came round inspecting your house informs you the carpets need hoovering, “No, really?“. A letter from the agents drops to the floor about the garden which decided to bloom (or overgrow to a jungle) while we were away, but where is the lawnmower we are expected to use? Are we supposed to pull that out of thin air as well? Throughout all of this, you will have bigger problems. Such as the boiler breaking in the height of winter. Your boiler man Lee, who has become a regular, will teach you all the tricks to fix it temporaily and inform the agents/landlord. The landlord, you will come to learn, does little to help, not even fix the fence at the end of the garden. At times, the boiler decides to work for longer than an hour or two here and there, you may find half of the radiators have broken. Buy a onesie. You are also, still expected to pay bills for what you haven't used. That's always fun.