Housing has always been a huge issue for students. Whether it’s the stress of picking housemates, the confusion of deposits and administration fees or the constant hassle of dealing with landlords! We’ve all had the same problems and we probably always will.
Your VP Welfare and Communities Officer, however, is here to help! And you have four to choose from! I ask each of them how they feel about housing and what their plans are to help. Here are their responses.
Chloe Green said:
I have had some of the biggest-arse-hole landlords in my time and I am absolutely… I can say many expletives about how I feel about landlords at this university. This year Frankie and Sam have been laying the foundations for a union-led housing agency. Now the housing agency is a fantastic idea and it means that landlords are going to have to come to the union to get our approval to be advertised through the housing agency. At the moment the criterion is that the house has to meet certain rules and regulations.
I have had some of the biggest-arse-hole landlords in my time.
My proposal is that not just the houses but the landlords have to be in a certain shape. My idea is a three strike system. If we have three sustained, significant complaints about one landlord which can substantiated and are drastically problematic, they’re out, black-listed, the union will not be promoting them, they will be out of business. This gives them much more incentive to behave themselves.
Frank Sonders said:
I’ll try to make housing more online. Students won’t have to come to the Union, the housing week will still be there, but I think what will help is online Youtube videos which will be a great support. Instead of a sheet of do this, do that, a Youtube video gives a lot more information and students absorb videos much better than written material. Youtube videos will definitely be a way forward and we need to make that change from PDF files to video.
I’ll try to make housing more online.
Simon Eyles said:
It’s a key issue because your housing can make or break your time here. You can think Southampton is a lovely place if you live in a lovely house, and you have lovely housemates and a landlord that caters to your every need. The flip-side of that is a little bit closer to home for me, in that I moved into my house with a built-in desk in my room, I pulled out that desk and the wall behind it was black with mould. The landlord was very reluctant to do anything so I bought my own dehumidifier, cleaned the wall and painted over it with damp seal and sorted it all out myself. It’s the sort of thing where, if I’d known I could have lobbied against him to make him do it, I would have done, and I would have saved myself some money, time and effort. And I think students just don’t have that kind of information. Students don’t know what to expect; it’s their first time ever in private rented accommodation and information needs to be there.
Your housing can make or break your time here
So how can this be improved? Well, we’ve got the Housing Agency coming in which represents a really good opportunity to balance that inequality between landlords having all the power, and in Highfield or Portswood just doing whatever they like. Having a Housing Agency means that we can work with landlords and say: ‘If you meet our threshold, if you meet our standards we can give you lots of business’. And we won’t charge you loads like the other agencies do in Southampton. Again, that would be an amazing step forward.
Nick Johnson said:
I think almost everyone at some point during their university career will go into private rented accommodation – aside from those that live at home with parents and families.
The best support I’ve had has been from my housemates.
Also, it’s one of the things that’s caused myself and my friendship group the most stress and whilst I don’t think that makes it the most important thing, I can imagine that most people will go through similar problems. The best support I’ve had has been from my housemates, and it’s nice being able to know that at the end of the day I’ve got somewhere I can go home to that’s safe and secure and I think if you don’t have that …it sucks.
You can find more details on what each candidate wants to do to tackle all our housing issues in their manifestos at:
Check out what they have to say and remember to vote from 1pm on 27th February.