LUSU Living lets us down

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Photo by Jonnie Critchley

LUSU is quite a helpful establishment. They run excellent programmes such as LUSU Involve and regularly hold events such as the Campus Festival which showcase how well organised and brilliant LUSU are when it comes to going the extra mile. I would have thought this true of their housing agency too, but I was in for more of a surprise than I could have ever imagined.

LUSU Living are a letting agency which acquire houses form landlords with houses in the area surrounding the University and let them to students from the University. They offer an all inclusive rent, including water rates, electricity and gas, 24/7, 365 day a year water, electricity, drainage, plumbing and drainage cover, TV licence, internet, telephone and even a regular cleaning service among a list of other promises which you can find on their internet site. It sounds like the student dream right? A home from home if anything… right?

Wrong. The reality of LUSU Living has been an enduring nightmare and one me and my housemates can’t wait to wake up from.

After signing our contract way back in Michealmas term of our first year we happily got on with our studies till it came to the summer holidays and we could get excited for off-campus life. We would have a student house, where we could have student parties and live in a room bigger than a shoebox. Though this could be true of some houses, when we got to ours, it was a very different story.

I know traditionally student houses have a bad reputation: leaky ceilings, cold showers, 70s carpet, but we were at least expecting our house to be clean. Instead we were greeted by overflowing rubbish bins in the garden which hadn’t been emptied all summer, chicken bones in the lounge, a layer of grime that bleach wouldn’t touch in the kitchen, a flooding toilet and toenails on my bedroom floor – among other things.

On calling LUSU Living, they claimed the house had been marked as having undergone a full clean already but they would send someone round after the weekend. By that time I had already cleaned a lot of the house but there were also a series of repairs which needed to happen. This included fixing broken curtain rails, replacing a mattress, fixing a chest of draws and replacing the lino in the bathroom – all repairs which should have happened during the summer before we moved in.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, we had to survive three weeks without a shower, a hob that fused the house every time we tried to put it on and a microwave that electrocuted everything that was placed in it. The ‘cover’ was not 24-hour, as we discovered. Instead after placing a complaint in in the afternoon of a Friday I was told I would have to wait all weekend before the electricity could be sorted leaving us without hot water or electricity for three days. Thankfully I persisted my case till they sent somebody out.

The cleaning service they offer is also far from regular and often I am puzzled as to what they have done at all. The office closes at 4pm so any problems you may encounter when you arrive home from uni always have to wait and if you do decide to call the next day there’s never any guarantee you’ll get through to their phone line anyway!

I know we are students and don’t necessarily expect or indeed want to live in a house full of luxuries but when I am paying rent every week I do expect there to be some standards and provided with what I have  qbeen told I am paying for.

Maybe I am living in the worse case scenario house, which at one point we couldn’t lock either, but especially as a company affiliated with LUSU I feel the standards and reputation they are emanating is not one the University would appreciate or be proud of.

Most of the issues have been kinked out now, thankfully and we have received an apology from LUSU Living, just in time for the end of the academic year. Home sweet home eh?

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11 Comments

  1. My my, an article which isn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds it. More of the same please.

  2. Just goes to show, when you have the platform, and the balls (No offence Yasmin) you can make your opinion on this known. (Read my fb link if you can.)

  3. You’re not the only one! My house didn’t have central heating for 4 weeks as the boiler broke and LUSU Living provided unbelievably bad service. After a plumber coming round 5 times to try to fix it, it turned out they needed a new part which would take 2-3 days and eventually took 3 weeks to arrive. LUSU didn’t once call to check up on the part without me first going in to the office to ask them to call. They’re a thoroughly unprofessional company and wouldn’t last five minutes in the private market where they didn’t have a never ending niche of eager students!

    Well done Yasmin, an article that really needed writing!

  4. Is this a peace offering for yet another rejected Anti-Lusu article? Seems a bit too good to be true to me.

    As good as this article is, it does worry me that the VP for Media and Communications Matthew Power, is unwilling to criticise his fellow FTO’s in the same manner. Lusu Living is not run by an FTO but by a fully (un)professional manager. If the paper continues to fail to scrutinise LUSU’s elected officers, or worse, actively supresses articles that call into question the FTO’s conduct then the editor is a considerable discredit to the student body as a whole. Cronysm and cowardice should have no place in a union such as ours.

  5. Thanks for the positive comments guys

  6. Hi Laurence.

    I’m confused by your “yet another rejected Anti-Lusu article” comment. As Editor of SCAN for the past year, I’ve rejected two articles – both were based on the poor standard of writing and the editorial stance of one of my Section Editors. One article was on the Conservative/Lib Dem Government, the other was on an item of LUSU branding.

    SCAN, as a newspaper that is the voice of the students, should strive to scrutinise the actions of both the Students’ Union and the University. Through articles such as this one and our investigation into Grad Ball’s value for money, and articles on the University regarding the BPR amongst others, I think we’ve achieved that this year.

    If you think we haven’t, please feel free to submit a letter to be considered for publication in the next edition (scan@lancaster.ac.uk), contact one of SCAN’s Section Editors to submit an idea for print in the next edition/to be published on the website (http://scan.lancastersu.co.uk/contact-us/) or consider running to be a Section Editor yourself next year where you’ll be able to contribute and help ensure SCAN is free of the “cronyism and cowardice” that you discuss above (http://scan.lancastersu.co.uk/blogs/media-room/2012/05/20/scan-editorial-applications/).

    Many thanks,
    Matthew
    SCAN Editor 2011/2012

  7. Hello Matthew,

    If it is all the same to you, i should like to make my comments public as i feel this is a very public matter.

    I am very well aware of the two articles you have rejected. I find a little more than odd that you think that they were poorly written, considering that your very own comment editor Paul Hannah deemed them worthy of publication.

    It seems unlikely that the articles written by PHD student Chris Witten and extremely active journalist Ronnie Rowlands (an english major) could be so poorly written. I myself have read the peice on Lusu branding (which is shall attach a link to in a later comment so your audience can be the judge) and as an editor myself I can safely vouche for it’s quality of expression. Not to mention it’s relevence to the student body.

    In any case what seems even more strange is that you would reject such pieces and yet allow others which were plainly ill judged and poorly written. Namely that little gem Run Fit Girl Run, the Carmel College piece (appologies Yamsin, worry not this piece is far better) and the latest ill informed Iraq war article. I find it interesting that despite the widely noted deficit in quality in those articles you chose to print them, though of course you swiftly rejected those two which covered, shall we say, sensitive subjects. How did those articles fail to meet the journalistic standards of run fit girl run may i ask?

    As a side note Matthew. I would love at some point to run for an editorial position at scan but i sadly have my doubts as to whether i would be fairly considered. I offered to write for your paper during the roses coverage but despite having experience writing match reports and editing the sports section of an independant paper i was unfortunatley ignored. Oh well, i’m absolutely certain it wasn’t because i write for a rival paper, as that would be unprofessional. Not to mention constitutionally questionable given my rights as a Lusu member.

    I hope you will take my comments into consideration in the time you have left as editor.

    Many thanks to you Matt,
    Laurence Beagley

  8. For your readers to judge.

    http://lancastertoeuston.tumblr.com/

    Kind regards,
    Laurence Beagley.

  9. With regards to the Chris Witten article, i would respectfully ask you to explain this.

    http://lancastertories.co.uk/?p=1509

    Laurence Beagley.

  10. Ha! I put girl instead of boy, got a bit caught up there! Oh well, i’m sure the point is still clear.

  11. *Witter, not Witten. I’m sure you appreciate the importance of accuracy.

    Regarding the article it may well have been well written in the academic sense, but for a newspaper it was frankly wildly out of touch with its proposed audience in my opinion.

    Anyway, as you said, let the public be the judge. It seems some already have decided.

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