Over 610 students have accommodation cancelled after “grossly irresponsible” construction delays
Hundreds of new students have been forced to find new accommodation after being told that ‘The Depot’ will not be finished in time for September.
In a statement given to Exeposé, The Depot confirmed “Due to construction delays at The Depot which our contractor has been unable to fully mitigate, we will unfortunately not be able to open the building in time for the start of this academic year.”
The Depot accommodation block is currently under construction on Summerland Street, next to nightclub Unit 1. The new target is for rooms to be available from January 2020.
Boasting an “outstanding student experience” on their website, CRM Students was bought by German company Corestate for €17 million late last year. At the time of the purchase, CRM was described as “a highly professionalised real estate manager.”
Students were first informed of delays on 1 August. CRM said there had been “some delays” and so the “Games Room and Communal Lounge” wouldn’t be open in time for the start of term. However, the students were told that bedrooms would be ready in time. £100 was initially offered to students to compensate.
Then on 14 August all the affected students were emailed again: “Despite the contractor’s best efforts they will not be able to deliver a completed building on time. As a result, we regret to inform you that The Depot will not be able to accommodate students this year and you will need to secure alternative accommodation.”
The email emphasised that “the construction contractor is responsible for this delay”, although CRM will offer one week’s rent reimbursement “as a gesture of goodwill.” CRM also promised that the company would “shortly be processing refunds for all students” which will include booking fee and any rent that had already been paid.
It’s just so close to term and it felt like they didn’t care they were turning so many people awaySecond Year English Student
Speaking exclusively to Exeposé, a second year English student said that students had been sent a list of alternative places to live in, but many of them were full or too expensive.
“It’s just so close to term and it felt like they didn’t care that they were turning so many people away” she said, adding that it was “grossly irresponsible.”
“I was supposed to be moving in with international students as well it was especially hard for them.”
The abrupt cancellation of the Depot contracts threatens to have a profound effect on international students. To sort alternative accommodation at a late stage often requires in person meetings with letting agents and landlords. This might not be possible for international students who travel to study in the UK.
Another student, who came to study in Exeter from abroad, told Exeposé “If you ask about my feelings, I would definitely describe it as devastating.”
“We feel outraged by the fact that CRM is only willing to compensate us with a single week of Rent as “a gesture of goodwill”, and given the situation that most of us aren’t in UK, plus the fact many budget accommodations are fully booked by mid-August, this arrangement is simply absurdly unfair.”
A University of Exeter spokesperson said: “We know about the delay to The Depot and will ensure that all the students affected find alternative accommodation. We are working with the team at the Depot to resolve any issues and will minimise any impact on students and local residents. We take our responsibilities to students and the community very seriously and we will provide the necessary support for each individual. Any student with concerns about the delay to The Depot site can contact: email@example.com “
The Exeter Students’ Guild are also offering assistance. A Students’ Guild spokesperson said:
“Following the announcement on 1 August, the Students’ Guild has been working alongside the University to ensure that all students affected by the cancellation are supported and compensated appropriately. Students have able to access the Advice Team, who were aware of the situation and provided with information to provide support to students. Any students who continue to be affected by the situation will be supported by the Advice Team to ensure a resolution by the time they arrive in Exeter.”
The Depot cancellation follows a similar scenario in 2018, when the brand new Atlas House accommodation told tenants to seek alternative housing just three days prior to the scheduled opening.