Editor | Cassandra Lau
The thought of renting a student accommodation can be terrifying to many, especially if you have had no prior experience or guidance on what the procedures are and what you should be keeping an eye out for. Many said that they wish they had advice from students in years above, so I created a survey that gathers responses anonymously so that students can feel free and safe to share their personal experiences in dealing with estate agencies.
Which estate agency has the best service?
Aspens Estate Agents
10 St Jude’s Rd, Englefield Green, Egham TW20 0BY | 01784 433696
Based on students’ responses, Aspens appears to provide the best service. Upon asking why, students explained, “they explained everything and made the whole process clear,” “responsive”, “always really nice and helpful.” They helped with “getting new beds and fixed things” that were wrong with the house, and did not charge the students for it.
However, there was one mixed response stating, “They were pretty solid last year [but] they did take stuff off [of] my security deposit [which] they shouldn’t have.” The agency is also based in Englefield Green which is a footbridge away from campus, making it easy for viewings to be arranged between classes.
Milton House, 27 Station Rd, Egham TW20 9LB | 01784 473844
Based in Egham, near the station, Baron Residential is the students’ second favourite estate agency. The reasons why range from their “professional office space” and “good service” to the way in which they “did not pressure us and gave us the time and patience needed.” They have student property available both in Englefield and Egham.
Others mentioned were predominantly because, “It’s the only one I’ve dealt with” (Student in favour of Browns), and “The only one I’ve used … don’t know about the others” (Student in favour of Alpha). One that did come to my attention was Egham Lettings, which is owned by a landlord named Colin Brooke, the student comments, “He doesn’t add on any extra fees and is the most caring landlord I’ve ever come across at university!” Another student adds, “Definitely would advise to seek out Colin Brooke at Egham Lettings. He is a private landlord and under high demand, but he is so attentive. He assures rent will only be charged when the loan drops, doesn’t ask for any extra money and takes extra care to make sure his tenants are as happy as can be.”
Which estate agency has the worst service?
190 High St, Egham TW20 9ED | 01784 477772
“I’ve just heard horror stories”
Many students raised their distaste for the agency’s “pressure selling to current tenants”, whilst others pointed out their “poor maintenance services, terrible throughout tenancy [and] fix things up as cheaply as possible”. One example provided was “screwing windows shut with broken clasps.” One of the most horrific stories were:
“They tried to take a deposit from us before even seeing the house, then after seeing the (awful) house and deciding to look elsewhere they didn’t want to refund us the deposit. Only after we called our parents did they give some of the money back.”
Another with students being forced to find accommodation elsewhere due to discovering, upon moving in, an illegal electricity meter installed by the landlord which the agency should have check-up with.
Hodders Estate Agents
86 High St, Egham TW20 9HF | 01784 770461
Coming in second, on a positive note, there are not signs of pressuring techniques, but “terrible attitude from some staff – she acted petty, and passive aggressive.” There seems to be a major issue with their management as many noted their lack of organisation:
I had them last year and they never helped us and they didn’t give us the deposit back.
Unorganised, and they forgot to pay my landlord for 6 months!
They didn’t return any of my e-mails for months last year, and when I got fed up and went down to their Egham office, their office was completely torn down – I thought they had run off or something.
18 St Jude’s Rd, Englefield Green, Egham TW20 0BY | 01784 439242
Displeased with staffs’ general lack of enthusiasm, students said, “They do not help you with anything, and lie about the state of the house after tenancy to keep deposits”. They also “apparently overcharge and are not very helpful when students have problems in their accommodation” mentioned another student.
What advice would you give to other students looking for student accommodation for 2019/20?
Communication and understanding is key:
Look through your contracts carefully. Live with people you trust, but also make sure that in the contract they’re responsible for their own bills and rent each month and that it doesn’t fall on all of you if someone doesn’t pay in time.
Go with a trusted landlord so you can have direct communication with them and build a relationship easily.
Don’t rush in picking a house or housemates – it might seem that the houses will run out or you have to live with the first friends you make, but neither of those are true!
Don’t just go with the first agent you find.
Start early and ask as many questions as possible. Do your research, ask older students, get help. Start looking as early as possible, it will save a lot of stress later. Ask other students about the quality of service beforehand. Ask the previous tenants for any information about the company, contract, house and/or landlord before moving in.
What should students look out for?
Other things to look out for, and comments:
Cleaning costs after the tenancy ends
- Many landlords require a mandatory ‘professional clean’ after you move out which will be taken out of your security deposit. This can cost up to £500 so do remember to ask before you sign.
Initial inefficiency of estate agents is a bad sign so get out early
Look further out, a 20 to 30 minute walk to campus really isn’t bad and you can find some lovely properties.