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how can I get out of uni halls...

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I need to leave uni halls, but i'm being told that I have to find someone else to find to pay the extortionate £171.50 per week for a double studio room. I want to be out by the beginning of April, and I believe that the person I find has to be another student (and I've been told it is my responsiblity to find someone to fill my vacancy, not the landlord) - and its going to be impossible to find someone else for only 12 weeks.

I am having to leave, as I've been being harrassed by my neighbours to the stage where they urinated on my door and I had to call the police. I've had threats, loud music all times of day and night, and I can't stand it any longer! I'm a final year student, and I cannot get my work done at home (and the library is no better, its used as a common room). I've been complaining to the managment about this for months and it was only when the police were called that they did anything (2 of my neighbours are on final warnings, but as you can guess, this has meant I get a icey reception from everyone they know in halls).

I have been told I can give next to no notice if i have someone else move in, but otherwise, even if i leave, I will liable for the rent until the last week of June.

I'm going to have a close look at my tenancy agreement, but does this sound legal? I'm thinking that they have failed their duty as landlords due to the fact that they did not take appropriate action soon enough, and its unfair to make me stay if I now feel unsafe (and I really do, I worry that I'm going to get a brick through my window or shit in a box through my door)

What do i do? Uni halls seem to be a power on to themselves!

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    do your uni not have a union adviser or student services advisor you can speak to? my uni does but i dont know if this is the norm.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    They do, but they have an incredibly long waiting list, I'm going to see if they have a cancellation over the next few days.

    I feel totally trapped, because I've got a fixed-term contract, but staying here is making my stress levels go through the roof, and i cannot get any work done.

    I've looked at the shelter and NUS websites, and it doesn't seem there is a way around it!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    They do, but they have an incredibly long waiting list, I'm going to see if they have a cancellation over the next few days.

    I feel totally trapped, because I've got a fixed-term contract, but staying here is making my stress levels go through the roof, and i cannot get any work done.

    I've looked at the shelter and NUS websites, and it doesn't seem there is a way around it!
    Theoretically, there isn't. A lot will depend on whether you've been reporting what's going on to the residence manager and staff.

    You shouldn't have to wait that long to see someone in student advice. If the Union advisers are busy try and talk to the sabbatical officer in charge of welfare. If that fails, there should be someone at the university who oversees halls. In my uni it was the Dean of Students (Welfare). If they can't help, approach a harassment adviser, there should be one in your department.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Are you in University-owned halls of residence or are you in privately-owned halls of residence? In London privately-owned halls are far more common than they ever used to be, and it does make things more difficult.

    Technically you are liable for the rent as you've signed the contract. However if you are reporting bullying and harassment from your hallmates then the halls' owner should be doing something about it. Either the misbehaving tenants should be evicted or you should be free to move to another hall where you will be safe from harassment. I don't think you will be released from your contract, certainly the University I work for will not generally release people early, but they will move people into different accommodation. As I expect you just want peace and quiet, rather than to actually get out of the licence agreement, that should be enough for you.

    If the tenants are students at your University then you might want to make a complaint about their behaviour. Your University will have a policy on abuse and harassment and this should be tied in with the discipline regulations.

    You should also make a formal request in writing for the halls' owner to move you away to another room to protect you from the abuse and the harassment. If the halls is owned or managed by your University ask this at the same time as making a formal complaint. If it is privately-owned, ask the owner to do it, and copy the University in if they placed you in the private halls.

    I don't know which University you are studying at, but I would be surprised if you have to wait very long to see an adviser. At busy times you might have to wait a week to see me at my students union, and we only have a small advice centre.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Are you in University-owned halls of residence or are you in privately-owned halls of residence? In London privately-owned halls are far more common than they ever used to be, and it does make things more difficult.
    That's a good point, privately-owned halls are usually run by money-grabbing cunts.

    Having said that, if you're in London and part of the University of London then the University of London Housing Service also have a good advice team.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    piccolo wrote: »
    That's a good point, privately-owned halls are usually run by money-grabbing cunts.

    I couldn't possibly comment!

    I'm just grateful that my University owns its own accommodation and my students' union has a strong relationship with the local private landlords, most of whom advertise their houses with us and accredit them using our Code of Standards. Makes my life so much easier.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm just grateful that my University owns its own accommodation and my students' union has a strong relationship with the local private landlords, most of whom advertise their houses with us and accredit them using our Code of Standards. Makes my life so much easier.
    UL Housing does what it can but, sadly, most universities in London are so short of accommodation that they've started making deals with private providers. It makes me very angry but I don't know what the solution is.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's a novel idea, I know, but they could try not selling halls that they already own to private developers. They could also try building their own halls, but that might be a little bit too radical.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's a novel idea, I know, but they could try not selling halls that they already own to private developers. They could also try building their own halls, but that might be a little bit too radical.
    Funnily enough, I suggested that....
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Your university does have a duty of care towards you in a legal capacity. If you are living in their accomodation and being constantly harassed, they should help you find alternative accomodation. Yes you are liable for the rent, but technically if you suddenly moved out, they would have to take you through court to get their money owed which with Universities almost never happens. A good idea would also be to tell your GP because I'm assuming its having an effect on your emotional health,and a letter from your GP to your university could help you massively get out of your contract and be free to move out. Send that with your crime reference number from the police to your Dean of Students not accomodation services. To be frank, if you feel the harassment is bad enough and you really cannot take it anymore then leave and find somewhere new. If it's bearable keep plugging it and trying to get out of your contract. Even if the waiting list for student services is long, outside charities like Citizens Advice can give you the same advice and you can get an appointment much sooner.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Unfortunatly the police never left me with a crime reference number, because they only informally cautioned those involved. I have been reporting it all a long, and its taken for the police to have to be called for the halls managment to do anything about it. I'm going to call the station number and see if they have one. I have sent a formal complaint (at least the 2nd) to halls managment, and they have decided that all they can do is give them a final warning. They have also apparently upped security in my block, but I've never seen them about. I also have a social worker, and shes been in touch with halls managment, but I might put a little more pressure on them to get them to let me leave before the end of the agreement. And I did check the agreement, and theres no obligations on the landlords asides basic health and safety.

    As I am at uni of westminster (not a UoL associate), we have no dean of students, and the sabs aren't allowed to do case work (so whats the point?). I'm in uni-owned halls, but they can't really move me to another hall that would be close to by campus (zone 5, all other halls are zone 1) and most others are also full. tbh, I don't want to be in halls now full stop!

    I'm prone to panic attacks and I feel I can't walk in or out of my building without having something thrown at me by one of these guys, or without abuse, i've spoken to my mentor about writing a letter (seeing as she's a trained psychologist), and she's happy to do so. My GP would charge me £20, and often writes in spurious terms, which have meant that their letters haven't helped much in the past.

    I've stopped calling security because I'm too worried about reprisals like last time. Instead I'm keeping a diary of the noise and anything else that happens.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You should be able to get a crime number regardless, considering I had a crime number for an event where they never even had any suspects for the theft of my property. There should at least be an incident number.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    I'm prone to panic attacks and I feel I can't walk in or out of my building without having something thrown at me by one of these guys, or without abuse, i've spoken to my mentor about writing a letter (seeing as she's a trained psychologist), and she's happy to do so. My GP would charge me £20, and often writes in spurious terms, which have meant that their letters haven't helped much in the past.

    I've stopped calling security because I'm too worried about reprisals like last time. Instead I'm keeping a diary of the noise and anything else that happens.
    Both of those sound like good ideas. Keep trying to see a Union adviser. There's also always the CAB.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Blacksheep wrote: »
    Yes you are liable for the rent, but technically if you suddenly moved out, they would have to take you through court to get their money owed which with Universities almost never happens.

    Universities don't use court action all that often because they don't have to. If you owe money to a University you're not allowed to graduate until you pay the debt.
    Miss_Riot wrote:
    As I am at uni of westminster (not a UoL associate), we have no dean of students, and the sabs aren't allowed to do case work (so whats the point?). I'm in uni-owned halls, but they can't really move me to another hall that would be close to by campus (zone 5, all other halls are zone 1) and most others are also full. tbh, I don't want to be in halls now full stop!

    I'm prone to panic attacks and I feel I can't walk in or out of my building without having something thrown at me by one of these guys, or without abuse, i've spoken to my mentor about writing a letter (seeing as she's a trained psychologist), and she's happy to do so. My GP would charge me £20, and often writes in spurious terms, which have meant that their letters haven't helped much in the past.

    I've stopped calling security because I'm too worried about reprisals like last time. Instead I'm keeping a diary of the noise and anything else that happens.

    Sabbs at my Union cannot do casework either, because they're not trained and not insured. Casework's my job, because I am qualified and I am insured.

    It's important that you report what is happening to you. Nothing can be done if you don't report what is going on. You need to go back to the advice centre (at your university it isn't in the students' union) in Cavendish House. Explain the urgency of what is happening and an advisor should see you. If you dropped in to my office I'd make space, even if it could only be for five minutes.

    Evidence of what is happening will be important, as will evidence of previous reports. The University do have a duty of care to protect you from abuse and harassment and they should take your complaints seriously. Your Dignity at Work and Study Policy would almost certainly be applicable in this case. My University generally take complaints very seriously (to the extent of expelling students for harassment and verbal abuse) so I'd be amazed if yours doesn't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Sabbs at my Union cannot do casework either, because they're not trained and not insured. Casework's my job, because I am qualified and I am insured..
    I never did casework, but the reason for seeing a Sabb often is to narrow down your options and focus your priorities in a complicated situation. They can sometimes take shortcuts to the right people in university, too, depending on how good they are and how their relationship with the university authorities is. Might be worth an appointment anyway. I didn't notice before that you said your uni doesn't have a Dean of Students, but your welfare sabb should know who in the university is ultimately responsible for student welfare and whatever their job title is they should be able to help.

    Important caveat: your sabb officers are elected not appointed and training varies wildly across the sector, but they should know who to point you to.

    I realise Westminster is a bitch if you're on the Zone 5 campus so maybe you can make phone appointments to avoid the Met Line nightmare?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think they have an advice centre out in the other campus too.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Managed to speak to someone very briefly yesterday, and they said that they'll see what they can do. There have been more complaints about those in question, from other people, but at the end of the day i don't want to be here, regardless of whether these guys get evicted. Halls management have shown me that they are totally imcapable of keeping it a safe environment to live in. I'm getting to a point where I can't be here on my own, and i'm getting shouted at out of the window by one of the guys...i'm going to talk to uni again and hopefully see if they will let me go from the tenency rather than me complaining to the dean or taking it further...

    I'm really at a loss, I just need to get out!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey there,

    It sounds like you're going through a really tough time at the moment as the situation is difficult where you live.

    You have done the right thing though, by seeking help from your university. Keep asking them for support and keep reporting any problems.

    As you already know from your own research, it will be difficult for you to end your fixed term agreement. You can end it if there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement. Have you had a chance to look at the agreement yet?

    Also University accommodation can end if it is no longer appropriate for you to live there - for example you dropped out of your course (but this is not applicable to you).

    You best course of action is to negotiate ending the tenancy early with the University. Try to talk to as many people as you can about this and hopefully someone will be willing to help, like piccolo suggested;
    You shouldn't have to wait that long to see someone in student advice. If the Union advisers are busy try and talk to the sabbatical officer in charge of welfare. If that fails, there should be someone at the university who oversees halls. In my uni it was the Dean of Students (Welfare). If they can't help, approach a harassment adviser, there should be one in your department.

    Also try talking to your course tutors as they may be able to speak to other staff who will be able to help.

    Another option is to just leave the property. You would still be liable for the rent but if living there is this unbearable then you may wish to leave; you do not want this to affect your studies.

    Finally, you can call Shelter on their Free advice helpline (0808 800 4444). Lines are open 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    just to let you all know...

    The welfare people weren't able to do much, but I've been to the uni doctor who has written me a letter supporting me leaving halls. I have spoken to halls and made them aware of my intentions and given them a copy of my letter. I've also found somewhere else to move to, which isn't even in London, but it makes sense, seeing as I don't need to be on campus at all this term apart from hand in dates, and I was going to be moving out of London after June anyway...

    So, it seems that this letter has been accepted, and I'm free to walk away from the contract as of the beginning of April. I'm going to check this tomorrow, but halls don't really have a leg left to stand on, especially as I have continued to make complaints as i've continued to be harrassed and nothing has been done. I think it just makes their work easier for me to go rather than chucking those causing the problems out.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    So, it seems that this letter has been accepted, and I'm free to walk away from the contract as of the beginning of April. I'm going to check this tomorrow, but halls don't really have a leg left to stand on, especially as I have continued to make complaints as i've continued to be harrassed and nothing has been done. I think it just makes their work easier for me to go rather than chucking those causing the problems out.

    :yippe: I'm sorry it all had to take so long but I'm glad you've found somewhere. Good luck.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey miss_riot,

    Just like Piccolo has said, sorry for the hard time you've had recently but good luck with your new place! Hope things get better for you now. :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Halls didn't accept the medical evidence, on grounds that mental health conditions are only reported, and theres no hard evidence to say that this situation isn't making me feel worse.

    I'm talking to an advocate, to see what more can be done, because this seems discriminatory to me...

    regardless of what happens though, I'm moving because I can't keep on living in what has become hell for me.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey again,

    It's good to see you moving out of the halls as it has clearly been a bad experience for you and you don't want this to affect your studies any further.

    Your university halls do seem to be dragging their feet about this but it's great to see you finding the strength to fight your corner. Maybe other students will benefit from this in the future and then you would have truly left your stamp in that place!

    Hope it goes well and feel free to keep us posted or to just have a rant on here about the situation.

    :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    Halls didn't accept the medical evidence, on grounds that mental health conditions are only reported, and theres no hard evidence to say that this situation isn't making me feel worse.

    I'm talking to an advocate, to see what more can be done, because this seems discriminatory to me...

    regardless of what happens though, I'm moving because I can't keep on living in what has become hell for me.

    That's bollocks, what evidence do you have? If it's from a GP I don't see how they can refuse it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It was from a GP, and they did...but I've had enough, this has stressed me to the point of nearly having a breakdown. For my own sake I'm gonna just leave it and walk away from the situation...

    I just hope they don't do this to anyone more vunerable...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey again Miss_Riot,

    I understand that you must still find it difficult to think about the situation regarding your Uni halls. Sometimes we do just need to walk away from situations we can't control to protect our own feelings.

    However, you mention that you hope they don't do this to anyone else, especially those who are vulnerable. Do you think you would be up to writing a letter to your University as a formal letter of complaint to see if they would investigate this matter further on your behalf to improve their current procedures? Maybe you could ask a friend or family member to help you.

    :)
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