Students living in squalid conditions have been left insulted after the university offered them minimal compensation for “inadequate” on-campus accommodation.
Nursing students at Eden’s Court have exclusively spoken to York Vision about their traumatic experience which one student said left them as “walking infections”.
The Derwent students approached us after they felt the University’s response to their complaints didn’t take them seriously.
The Derwent JCRC and YUSU have stepped into the accommodation row, insisting the University must come up with a more reasonable level of compensation.
Water leaks, no hot water, spider-infested accommodation, cold showers and a broken sink were all on the long list of problems at the £103 a week rooms.
Affected student Laura Hairsine said: “We feel like our complaints have not been taken seriously during our tenancy and only short term measures were put in place.”
She claims the University failed to keep to the terms and conditions by not providing an adequate water supply nor keeping the property in good repair.
Two students said they had to “live out of suitcases” in alternative accommodation for the first two weeks of their course after a water leak left their rooms in Sycamore College uninhabitable.
When they eventually arrived, they found their bedrooms “filthy and spider infested” with no working hot water supply.
The university said it was just something they would have to put up with as the boiler had not been installed properly.
The university later advised them to have quick showers, not take baths and save water when washing up after their boiler also broke not long after moving in, leaving showers without hot water.
Another resident of Eden’s Court, Mark Jackson, said: “As nurses, we’re taught about infection control. Now having no hot showers and going to hospitals with ill patients and not being able to clean ourselves after meant we were bringing it into our homes.
“We were walking infections during these periods.”
Mark claimed some of the house fell ill over winter and put this down to the living conditions.
Eventually the University took steps to try and resolve the situation however students claim this did not improve matters, saying: “Work started to try and resolve the water pressure problem and then stopped abruptly.
“Nothing was communicated to us.”
As if all that wasn’t enough, Mark’s sink came off the wall and was “basically hanging by a string” leaving him without hot water in his room for the entire year.
The gobsmacked student said: “Campus is your home, but the way this is going, I will be leaving university with a degree but not seeing it as a happy home.
“They have a contract to up hold and it has not been kept.”
Due to all the disruption the tenants were eventually offered £150 each as a ‘goodwill gesture’, which was later increased to £200 after the complainants said this amount was not acceptable.
The students said they didn’t feel that the monetary gesture was made with any goodwill and said: “I find this quite insulting to offer us just short of one week’s rent for the months of disruption we have had to endure.”
The length of the disruption had originally led the students to ask for their last rent instalment as compensation, a figure totalling £1368.
However due to the drawn out nature of the issue they are now demanding £2000, saying it “would be fair compensation for the disruption and emotional distress we have suffered bearing in mind that this has been ongoing since we moved into the property.”
Laura added: “We have experienced problems with our accommodation since day one and it is my opinion that the main problem was that the accommodation was not fit for purpose in the first place.
“We first contacted the facilities manager in December 2014 and since this time it has seemed like we have been in constant correspondence to try and resolve our issues.”
Derwent Chair Rosalie Dowding has come out in support of the students, slamming the “ridiculously low sum” of compensation offered.
She said: “The University has clearly broken their accommodation contract.
“In addition nursing students endure long placement hours and travel times, there has been far too much hassle suffered by these students in trying to resolve something that could have been dealt with months ago. In no way does £200 compensation justify a year of inconvenience.
“We hope that the university will seriously reconsider at the case of appeal.”
YUSU President Ben Leatham and Welfare Officer Scott Dawson say they are drawing up a more reasonable compensation figure after the University said they were willing to hear an alternative proposal.
A University spokesperson said: “We want all students to experience a high standard of residential accommodation on campus and to enjoy their time in college.
“However, I can’t comment on the details of this case until it has been properly and independently investigated, as per our student complaints procedure.”
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