You’re not a student until one of your relatives scoffs at your housing situation and exclaims, ‘goodness, I could never live like that’. That, Aunty Sue, is just the start of it. Grumpy landlords, dribbling showers and a hella mould don’t even make it onto the ‘Student Housing Bingo Card of Sheer, Shocking Shit’.
The Pest to End all Pests
When you see the first silvery slime-sign that you are cohabiting with slugs, you search hard for other explanations as to why the carpet, kitchen unit or (from a very traumatic past experience) your underwear drawer is glistening with faint trails. You first tell yourself it’s glitter – it wouldn’t be a student house without the lingering remains of Freshers Week shining on the carpet – but it soon becomes clear that you have guests. They squeeze through tiny gaps, dodge around the salt traps and leave questionably gooey piles of god-knows-what in the sink. What’s more, unlike big rodents, you can’t hear them coming… and they’re very hard to shoo away. “We had three visits from ‘Slug Control’ but I still kept finding them climbing up my bed.”
Ah, the blessings of safety. You’ll appreciate the fire alarms if there’s ever an actual fire in the house but, 9 times out of 10, the alarm will go off for no reason… probably in the middle of the night. Even the simplest of tasks like making toast come with the inescapable risk of disturbing the paranoid alarm. Let’s hope that, even in your sleepiest trudge to the alarm box, you remember the code or can find the key to silence the horrific sound. “It was only after some idiot drunkenly cut our fire alarm wires and set off a different ‘fault siren’ that we realised we didn’t have a key to silence the constant sound… this lead to two horrific, sleepless days of constant beeping as we couldn’t get hold of our landlord.”
As may or may not be common knowledge, people poop. In a student house of typically 5-8 people, there is a lot of input into the (probably cheap) toilets. This is all well and good until there’s an ‘error in the output’. Excrement is surprisingly traversable into a variety of places – running down the outside walls, flooding the garden, emerging from the loo. “We had a house party and our sewage system got blocked. It flooded the garden and people trampled it though the whole house.”
Freezing Your Tits
Off The boiler will cause many-an-argument in every household. There’s a fine line between being a radiator sissy and a heating Nazi, but after the boiler (inevitably) breaks the first time, you’ll all unanimously decide that paying a slightly higher bill is better than losing your fingers and toes. “Let’s compromise and put it on a timer” you’ll decide before realising that, just like everything else, the timer doesn’t work. “I FaceTimed my friend and she could see my breath as soon as I answered!”
Because they’re generally older properties, lots of student houses come with gas ovens. These are not as reliable and can often secretly switch off for no reason. Like the five stages of grieving, this’ll evoke numerous emotive reactions in you: denial (“I must have just forgotten to turn it on”), anger (“for FUCKS SAKE why is my chicken kiev still frozen?!”), bargaining (“I could just try to toast my garlic bread…”), depression (“why does the worst always happen to me?”) and, finally, acceptance (“anyone want takeaway?”). “Our oven broke when we were cooking our house Christmas dinner, so we tried to grill the chicken.”
Dealing with shoddy housing, most probably with a killer hangover and a stack of deadlines, is frustrating at the best of times. And to top it off, the title of ‘student’ automatically makes you a target for stingy estate agents and landlords who can’t be bothered to sort anything out because they underestimate the relentlessness and assertiveness that students can behold.
If possible, communicate with whoever is in charge of house maintenance via email so that you have everything in writing (even get those important alarm codes written down at the start of the year), take photos of every problem you find (regardless of how small) and report problems as soon as they happen in order to avoid being blamed at the end of the year and losing your deposit. If all else fails, use the five magic words: ‘my dad is a lawyer’.
And if your dad isn’t a lawyer, then why not put some money aside so you can get yourself out of a shit housing situation. Or better still, get a nicer home. Check out Loot here. The app lets you budget, put money aside and use your contactless card abroad without any additional charges. I mean, you probably deserve a holiday now anyway.