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Complaints of discriminatory behaviour from letting agencies across Edinburgh

BySonja Rijnen

Dec 7, 2017

An increasing amount of the student population in Edinburgh is becoming aware of mistreatment from landlords and letting agencies. Issues vary from broken appliances to threats of eviction due to unfounded noise complaints.

Customers from a wide range of letting agencies including DJ Alexander, Complete Solutions, Grant Property, and Zone Letting have been complaining of unfair and discriminatory treatment due to their status as students.

The Student spoke with a range of students from the University of Edinburgh who have had various experiences with landlords that they deem to be exploitative.

One anonymous female student, who lives with three other women in a flat let by DJ Alexander in Marchmont, has had issues relating to “unfair and unwarranted” noise complaints from their neighbour, who lives below them with young children.

The first time they received complaints of this nature was in October on a Sunday evening despite the fact that all they were doing was “sitting in [their] rooms being antisocial and watching Netflix.”

The following week, the students received another “aggressive” call from their neighbour through the intercom. The neighbour told the students to, “stop dropping stuff, you’re being really noisy, can you please shut up?”

The resident of the flat told The Student that in fact: “People weren’t being rowdy. He rang us up twice for no good reason and the second time he was particularly angry.

“The letting agency tried to ring all of us and they got through to my flatmate and basically said that you’ve been really rowdy, slamming doors and noisy on the stairwell and that a male voice has sworn through on the intercom and that we had been smoking in the flat.

“But we are pretty quiet and none of us smoke; we all just want to get on with studying. Sometimes we have the odd gathering like any other student, but they are never loud to the point of being disturbing or heard from beyond the flat.”

One month after the incident with the phone calls occurred, the students received an email from the landlords stating that they wished to meet the women in person at the flat or else measures would be taken for an eviction.

The Student was told: “We met them at our flat, they had come in and my flatmates offered them a cup of tea but they just stood at the door and it felt like they had backed [my flatmates] into a corner. They only asked for like 30 seconds what our side of the story was.

“This guy told us we need to change our lifestyle and start living a normal life, we had to stop wailing and closing doors so loudly, they basically just took [the neighbour’s] side.

“They said that if this continued we will have to think about eviction. It’s horrendous because we are being as quiet as possible; it has been incredibly stressful, we feel like we have been victimised and patronised. I think letting agencies want to do the bare minimum.

“We are paying as much as anyone else would be paying, they are not providing a very good service, and they are supposed to represent us.”

A male student, also living in Marchmont as a tenant of Zone Lettings, told The Student that their landlords have, “complete indifference about doing anything to the flat.

“We arrived and looked at our kitchen, and it’s honestly something from the 1970s. The hob looks deliberately stylised to be something from the past.

“The flooring is peeling up, the carpet isn’t actually stuck down properly so it’s a trip hazard, the fire alarm has run out of batteries so it’s beeping all the time and the tumble dryer doesn’t work. The fridge is also there but it is broken.

“We sent them an inventory of everything that was broken and they said that they had other flats that were a bigger priority at the moment so they weren’t going to deal with ours at all because they are not pertinent issues.”

The men in the Marchmont flat were required to have their own set of keys cut. This has yet to be subsidised by Zone Lettings.

If you’ve had a bad experience with a landlord, contact The Student at news.studentnewspaper@gmail.com


Image: Flickr @JohnLord

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