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January, 14, 2014

Student houses; where do you draw the line?

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Name: Sophie Bichener
Member of: Student Panellist
Joined: Dec 2010
Sophie's Full Profile

I ventured onto the Daily-love-a-good-story-Mail today for my daily dose of gossip when I stumbled upon a reported a house fire. A 7 year old boy died because a battery had been taken out of the smoke alarm by the clearly incapable landlord.

“There was only one smoke detector in the terraced house where young Mateusz Wlodarczyk lived, a court heard, and its battery had been disconnected, meaning it failed to go off when a fire broke out due to an electrical fault.”

Whilst reading the story I was transported back to my wonderful Third Year university house. The landlords were well known around Leicester and their reputation proceeded them, their name uttered was often met by a groan and an ‘oh god, they’re awful’. All Freshers have been warned by their predecessors not to rent with this particular company because they are renowned for ridiculous fees and withholding the deposit for every little scrape and scrap.

housing

Photo by Regina Rentals

Our student house had 4 or 5 fire extinguishers. ‘Safety first’, you think as you step through the rickety front door (which never closed properly) and see them all lined up against the corridors battered old walls, however, this was not the case. Our landlords were not thinking of our safety, surprisingly, they were simply being lazy. I’d actually go as far as to call them a fire hazard. One particularly student-y night my flatmate and some friends thought it would be a good idea to spray some of the extinguishers only to be greeted with a foul-smelling pitiful dribble of an oddly coloured substance that would struggle to put out a candle let alone a fully blown house fire.

Our fire alarms were dodgy to say the least. Despite our landlord bragging, ‘they’re the latest technology out there’, they often triggered at random intervals and once when the house was actually filled with smoke they sat quietly, watching. Although I have only been with this one company and experienced these serious safety issues, I’ve heard horror stories about many student landlords who expect their students to simply put up with it.

housing

Photo by Michael Gray

On top of this, our washing machine flooded on a monthly basis. It flooded our whole kitchen. The vile stagnant water got under the carpets and dangerously close to various electoral sockets. It made it’s merry way into one of my flatmates room, which was never the same again. Breathing in 2 week old stale-water air, the dampness turning the walls yellow, probably wasn’t too good for him. Yet, our landlords refused to do anything. A dehumidifier would have been the way to go. But nope, they tried to say it was our fault, then, after we refused to accept that reasoning, replaced the door… THE DOOR. Safe to say it flooded again. The washing machine looked like it was from the 1940s; and probably was.

housing

Photo by Tiffany Terry

Having been a student, I think we take a lot of risks and don’t take things, such as student house safety, as seriously as we should. Everyone knows ‘digs’ are usually hell holes filled to the brim with mould and faulty appliances, but where do you draw the line?

How many fire extinguishers are faulty? How many plugs go unchecked? How many 40 year old about-to-expload ovens are still hanging on?

Read the story on the Daily Mail here.
Had your own horror story? Comment below

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