Why is choosing the right housing supplier so important? Q&A with Lotti Morton
The Housing Fair is moving online from 1 Feb, so to find out why picking the right student property is so important (and to get the lowdown on what can happen if you’re unlucky), we spoke to your Community Officer Lotti.
Tell us about how much of your role of Community Officer is to do with housing?
I talk about housing every day in my role, whether that’s working on projects with Unipol or meeting with other officers from across Leeds to talk about how we can change students’ renting rights to be fairer and more affordable. It’s the biggest area of my work!
Can you tell us about any housing horror stories of your own from your time in Leeds?
I have SO many horror stories from my student house – I woke up one night at 4am to a mouse staring at me in my bedroom! I spent 4 months without a washing machine because my landlord wouldn’t fix it and once our electricity and heating went off for 3 days in the middle of winter and we had to fight with our letting agency to put us in a hotel.
Why was housing so important in your choice to run for Community Officer in the first place?
I was just so angry about my own situation and how normalised stories like mine are. Housing is something that directly affects both students’ physical and mental wellbeing and I think it’s so important that it doesn’t add any more worries to all of the other stresses that come along with student life. I want to make sure students have all of the right information to make good housing choices as well as tackling the problems with the system.
What would be your number one tip for students who are househunting right now?
Be clear on your agreed priorities as a group. Be honest and open in your conversation and establish exactly how much budget you have and what you thing is a deal-breaker in a house. If you want equal bedrooms but aren’t bothered about an en-suite – say it early! This stops conflict later in the house-hunting process which can just cause difficulties or people to drop out of a group, which means you have to start the whole process again.
Why is it important that students sign with trusted suppliers?
So that you end up with a reliable service! If you have a good letting agent or landlord, it makes dealing with any issues or things that need fixing so much easier. It takes away the unnecessary stress that housing problems can add on top of student life.
Do you have any other hints and tips for househunting students?
RateYourLandlord is a database that we run with Unipol where students can leave reviews on their property and letting agent/landlord, so I’d really recommend having a look at any reviews before you sign for somewhere. The experience of previous tenants is the best advice to go on! I’d advise going for a Unipol Code property for that extra protection and reassurance that you’re choosing a good provider.
All of the landlords and agencies at LUU’s housing fair are accredited and a great place to look for next year’s property, and we can check your contract for you at LUU before you sign. Ultimately, house hunting can feel really stressful and sometimes it feels like a race for the best house. But even if it feels like everyone around you is rushing to get sorted, you have lots of time and lots of options and we’re here to help you at LUU if you need us!