Students have come forward with a series of complaints after building work continues at Station House in Leamington more than a month after it was due to be completed and residents moved in.
The complaints vary from mice infestations, mould in various rooms, unfinished areas being lived in and threats from the landlord.
Regarding the rumoured threats, George Rawilinson, second-year politics student said: “Whenever anyone has complained, [landlord] Dr Singh gives us the offer of moving out which obviously isn’t practical.”
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Boar about further apparent threats: “I was informed by Belvoir estate agent that Dr Singh has banned me from all his accommodation [after] Dr Singh agreed to give us a rebate of £400 to compensate us for the state of our flat three weeks into our rental period.
“Now, 9 weeks in, there are still a huge number of issues, but people are being refused any sort of compensation. Upon such refusal, a few people have mentioned to Belvoir that we in fact were given compensation.”
The student added: “It very much seems from what Belvoir have said that Dr Singh is effectively punishing me for the fact that I didn’t keep it a secret that he conceded that a rent rebate was fair in light of the state of Station House.
“It seems that Dr Singh… controls such a large proportion of Leamington that there is no longer any chance for students to issue legitimate complaints for fear of the consequences.”
Dr Singh has denied the allegations, saying there is “absolutely no connection” between students receiving any compensation and being banned from Singh’s properties.
Belvoir told the Boar they “are aware of the case in question” but would not comment on it in isolation.
Belvoir added that they operate “a zero tolerance policy towards any aggressive or intimidating behaviour, from any of our tenants” and “reserve the right to refuse future accommodation with the full support of our landlords, to any tenant displaying such behaviour”.
There were also complaints about mice. Another student who wished to remain anonymous told the Boar: “We had a few mice for the first couple of weeks of September, when we complained the landlord told us vermin is expected when a building is still being built. Helpful.”
Most complaints from students were of a less serious nature. Helen Moretti, second-year Physics student said: “I think the biggest problem for me was when I came up at the start of September, about three days after the tenancy had started, there were still builders in the hallways and in the flat.
“Even for the first couple of weeks of term builders would just be wandering in and out of our flats since they had keys, although we were already paying rent. We were really paying for an unfinished property.”
A related complaint from a variety of students was the state of the property when they arrived. George Buff, second-year PPE student, said, “When we moved in it wasn’t really ready, like it was really dusty and horrible and there was rubble in the shower we had to get them to sort out.”
Ms Moretti added, “Also we weren’t told by either the landlord or the agent that one of the ‘en suite’ bedrooms actually had the bathroom outside the room, and the room is significantly smaller, but that flatmate still has to pay the same rent.”
Other common complaints revolved around the lack of internet in the building for the first five weeks and the subsequent restricted internet connection.
Dr Singh said: “What we have been doing recently is boundary work. We are enhancing the sitting area and this takes two to three weeks to do. I thought retrospectively students would appreciate that.”
Regarding the lack of internet, Dr Singh commented: “In all of our agreements, we never agreed to provide internet… We realised that because of the reaction times [of BT]… rather than leaving it to [the occupants] we would take control and try to speed the whole process up.
“I might provide [internet] free of charge for the rest of the year for students… because some of the works have been carrying on on site.”
Ben Sundell, SU welfare officer, told the Boar: “As a Students’ Union, we are here to support our students with any issues they might encounter with their housing.
“If a student does have a dispute… we would encourage them to make an appointment with one of our Free and Confidential Housing Advisors here at the SU.”
One anonymous student’s story
We started getting mould on the wooden panelling in our rooms and kitchen which we had to wipe to get rid of and also on part of our wall in the kitchen. We felt that there was a damp problem because our windows were always dripping with condensation.
We hadn’t thought to look under our beds… My mattress was starting to become green but the worst were the wooden panels under our beds which were covered in mould. This was the case in most of the bedrooms in our flat. They took our beds away that day and came back with clean ones.
I talked to the man in charge and he was saying that before we moved in there was a problem with the under-floor heating which meant there was some damp. Since then, the heating works fine but the mould has had time to develop.
We also started getting mould in our kitchen cupboards; a workman came one day and cleaned all of them (not very thoroughly) but after three weeks I had mould growing back again and ended up having to throw some of my food out and clean everything again.
The main problem in our opinion is that in our kitchen they are cleaning in dribs and drabs and not thoroughly, which means that they are never getting rid of 100 percent of the mould, i.e it will grow back.
Also there has been really bad communication: the estate agent promised that they would get back to us and tell us what was happening (which they didn’t), they were supposed to tell us what chemicals they were treating our beds with, but didn’t.