A “TripAdvisor” style review website has been launched by London graduate Kristian Else, in a stand against substandard student accommodation in the UK.
Else, who studied at the University of Westminster, was appalled by the standard of student accommodation provided by a market leader in the industry, and soon learnt he was not alone. Across the UK, student unions are reporting their own substandard experiences of private halls.
The website, Hallbookers.co.uk, is now joined by 20 Student Unions in an effort to improve national standards and provide an independent guide to the best and the worst of private halls.
Else said of the website: “Hallbookers.co.uk connects students together so they can avoid being swayed by glossy marketing material, and can make an informed holistic decision to get the best accommodation and avoid the worst. Hall providers previously have had little to no accountability, which has allowed some of them to get away with things, but Hallbookers will completely change this.”
Bebe Husakova, Welfare and Campaigns officer of Warwick Student’s Union, said: “There are a small number of landlords who take advantage of all students and particularly target international students. Making a good choice of Agent or Landlord is important, and can make a considerable difference to students’ welfare. It is really important there is correct information available for students to make educated decision when deciding where to live/who to sign contract with.”
Rita Amin, President of City University Student’s Union, is leading a campaign against Pure Student Living, a private sector company, seeking compensation for what she describes as ‘unacceptable conditions.’ She said: “[It] offers a platform for students to voice their experience and guide others. There are halls that have exhibited extremely poor standards and behaviours and it’s important that these experiences are made public. It also encourages student accommodation providers to develop their services too.”
The NUS has observed that around 34% of students are living in halls, 9% of which are in the private sector. With the average rent for students in the UK at £140 a week (and some more expensive university flats in London reaching as high as £415 a week), many have observed that the basic maintenance loan barely covers the costs. However, according to NUS research, just over half (53%) of students living in private sector halls felt their accommodation represented good value for money.
Jacqui Hawthorne, Chief Operating Officer of Student Castle, a hall provider encouraging students to review their properties, said “At last a good honest student accommodation review guide. This should sort the good from the bad, give students all they need without having to trawl the streets. Well done Hallbookers and thank you!”
Giorgi Mamuzelos, News Teambookmark me