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A student from Northumbria University has designed an online service which allows university students to rate their landlords, in an attempt to make student housing less stressful.
Mark Robinson, from Lancaster, took a year out of his studies at Northumbria University to develop the website studentlandlorder.com to allow students to check reviews of different landlords and companies. Lancaster is among the 22 universities currently available on the service.
To access the service, students need to access the website, and then register with their university email address (ensuring that only students have access to the service and others – particularly landlords – do not) if they want to review their landlord. To access reviews, students can go on the website and, after clicking on Lancaster on the website’s map, can read reviews by other students about landlords in Lancaster.
Robinson told SCAN that it was his own experiences with landlords which had sparked the project. “Last year when I was at university I struggled with my landlord and landlady because they were being uncooperative and making life difficult,” Robinson told SCAN, saying that he found it frustrating that when other students came to look round the house with the intention of renting the property they were unaware of the poor service provided by the landlord.
Robinson also said that student input was ultimately key to the project, particularly in making the website more user-friendly.
In a recent national survey for their March 2014 report Homes fit for study, the National Union of Students found that three-quarters of respondents had problems with their current student accommodation, with issues ranging from damp and mould to vermin infestation. 53% of those who responded to the survey found they had experienced delays in getting repairs carried out, while more than a third had difficulty contacting their landlord or agent.
In the foreword for Homes fit for study, NUS Vice President Welfare Colum McGuire wrote “Too often, discussion on student housing is based on generalisations and assumptions. Students are often regarded as having no care for the condition of their homes and being perfectly happy to live in substandard accommodation.
“From students spending weeks trying to get essential repairs completed to others being told to just ignore the problem, it is time to tell the other side of the story.”
When asked whether he believed housing to be a particularly stressful topic for students, Robinson replied: “I think it can be. A lot of students have never been in that situation, and you cannot always know what to do, which means you are open to being taken a ride by landlords.”