“Two bathrooms between seven of us? That’s just not going to work.” “Ugh. What is with Exeter’s housing crisis?!”
DH1 is a great place for eavesdropping. Committee arguments, essay meltdowns, Tinder hilarity: you name it, I’ve overheard it. But housing crisis? That’s a new one.
Just because you can’t get a double en-suite with all your mates a 5 minutes’ stumble from Timepiece does not mean Exeter has a housing crisis. That’s the sort of phrase I’d reserve for an actual crisis, such as the 2000 people sleeping rough across England.
Yes, Exeter is expensive: I want to cry every time I talk to friends who live up north, getting much more for their money than we do. But we’re students, with maintenance loans and interest-free overdrafts and part-time jobs. And yes, landlords and agencies can fuck you over – but don’t let them. Talk to the current tenants, read the contract, ask the Advice Unit for help.
So back to that non-existent housing shortage. A search on spareroom.co.uk returns 339 results for Exeter. Right move students has a whopping 119 properties still on offer. Of the 14 room categories offered by Unite, only 2 are sold out. Email alerts grace my inbox everyday with new properties arriving on the market.
Being a part-time student who lives in Exeter year-round, I’ve held 5 separate tenancies. 3 of them were sorted out less than a month before the start date, and were fantastic. The closer to a tenancy’s start date, the more likely a landlord will lower prices and be willing to negotiate on deposits.
Then again, I am a total hypocrite. Fresher Becca and friends had signed a 5 bed house by November of first year. We were gonna be bffs4eva! Horror stories emerged of fallings out and couple breakups and contracts folding. We got lucky, avoiding all that (still bffs) but that’s certainly not the case for everyone rushing into a housing decision. I felt like offering the students who viewed my house last October a cuppa and a hug. They looked scared, took one look round the place, didn’t see the mould, and asked to sign the contract on the spot.
Ah, but rising admissions, you say. That bugger that bites us all in the arse, making Ram queues lengthen and the library more packed than ever. Sure, it might make rooms a bit harder to come by. You might even have to settle for a single bed. Or it might drive prices down, and show developers and landlords the demand for student accommodation, à la Cricket Field Court.
I think it’s fabulous that the Guild is reminding people not to be hasty in making accommodation decisions. Whether the student population will actually listen is another thing.
Everyone needs a home that is safe, and clean, and ideally in a good location. The rest – bed sizes, number of bathrooms, bill packages – are all nice extras. You can keep your housing panic. I’ll wait until the summer, when prices drop and choice is high, to pick my property.