Following the results of this year’s Vent About Your Rent survey, SUSU is planning on launching its own lettings agency in early 2014 to provide students with what will hopefully be a more reliable lettings service.
The initiative is a direct response to the very low levels of student satisfaction with the current lettings options in Southampton. VP Welfare Beckie Thomas said:
“This is such an exciting opportunity for us to change something which is so important to students, and it’s happened as a direct result of their feedback. Students consistently told us that they felt ripped off and taken advantage of by local agents. They felt pressured to sign up for a house contract really early, and often made poor choices as a result. Students trust SUSU to give them a fair deal and to champion their rights, and the lettings agency will give us the opportunity to do that in an area of real need.”
The agency will be situated within the Union, and will be free to use. Feedback from the survey suggested that students were often misled by agencies that claimed to be ‘no fee’, but would then charge administration costs or withhold deposits. SUSU claims that the agency will have a ‘reasonable and transparent approach to working with students’. The rise of Facebook groups among the Southampton student community such as the recent ‘Lousy Lettings’ are indicative of how bad the current lettings situation is.
The branch will be overseen by Head of Commercial Development Tony Addison, who is currently working towards building a portfolio of accommodation in preparation for the launch. For this purpose, SUSU is asking students to recommend the best landlords around and build their network based on endorsements. As an incentive, if you are the first person to send a landlord’s details to firstname.lastname@example.org, you will be given £50 by SUSU if they go on to sign up.
Further details on the agency will be announced shortly.