Guild election results upheld

MY room is always cold; as a consequence of having one of the older houses, the radiators are very inefficient and the cost of heating my house means we are unable to put the heating on for a longer period. We do put it on for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening as this is what we can afford.

I have heard horror stories, including sewage pipes bursting and flooding the kitchen. A common story is of letting agents promising to fix things and never doing it. How do they get away with this? Simple – students need houses and are prepared, especially in Aberystwyth, to take whatever is going. As a town we have a high property turn-over so by the time we get fed up enough to complain we are moving out. I am not suggesting we should live in palaces, but letting agents have a responsibility to ensure their housing stock is of a basic standard. The housing stock in Aberystwyth is of poor quality, this is made obvious by the fact that many third year students WANT to move back into student halls in their third year!

The ‘housing crisis’ in Aberystwyth is a problem, but it is fuelled by fear, and not as big a problem as it first appears. So why does it happen? Aberystwyth is a captive market, there is no outside competition and as such the letting agents have a monopoly over this town. Letting agents and landlords are able to take advantage of this fact.

Most students only do a cursory 10 minute viewing; we should go through the houses with a fine-toothed comb noting down any questions we have for the letting agents and reporting  any issues.

Tom Burmeister and the Guild provided sensible advice in the ‘Fools Rush In’ campaign, but large numbers of students were scared into getting houses as fast as they could, fearing not being able to get one at all. As soon as that panic buying begins, no matter how loud people shout, nothing can stop the panic.

So what can be done? Ensure you go through your contract with someone who knows what they are doing. Remember, the letting agency should hold the property while you sign the contract; never, ever be forced into signing anything without being given time to consider it and, if you want, consult someone else, like the university accommodation office. Ask questions, report breakages and faults with your property and get the letting agency to put in writing when it will be fixed and get them to sign it. Make sure you save all the documents from your landlord or letting agency, and definitely check that your deposit is in a deposit scheme by phoning the number on the paperwork or writing to the address on the certificate that the letting agency has given to you.

The situation won’t change overnight, but if we take control and refuse to accept faults, breakages and sub-standard housing, things will improve. Remember: you can always squat if the worst does happen.