Inside the ‘unlivable’ student house in Cathays

Enter if you dare…


The six-bedroom house appeared to only be made of mould, damp wallpaper and badly stained carpets.

The tenants lived in total darkness for three nights. The agency did nothing until their parents sent emails deeming the house ‘unlivable’. All the appliances were faulty, and mould grew in every room – even under the kitchen floor.

This was the case for a group of Cardiff Metropolitan and USW students on Miskin Street. One of the tenants agreed to be interviewed:

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If the house had so many issues when you viewed it, why did you take it?

“When we viewed the house, we were assured that all of the problems we’d noticed would have been rectified upon moving into the property, which was reasonable as at that time as they had several months to sort everything.

“It was verbally agreed in front of a few of us and that point the letting agency staff seemed really nice, so we presumed they would stick to their word. We didn’t know at this time that the oven wasn’t functional or that the fridge leaked, either.”

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Light fixtures hanging from the ceiling

So on move-in day, had anything changed? What was wrong with the house?

“Basically no, in fact the house was in worse shape than it had been when we’d viewed it.

“The contract requires us to pay towards a professional clean before the end of our tenancy, which had obviously not been upheld by the previous tenants, as the entire house was filthy; marks on the walls, damp and black mould just to name a few issues.”

Filthy and not in a good way

Filthy and not in a good way

“The kitchen surfaces were sticky and the cupboard handles were orange with rust. When we asked the letting agency what was going on, we were told by different staff that a clean both had and hadn’t been done.

“But the main problem was definitely the garden, which they had promised to be cleared before we moved in, as when we viewed the property it was already overgrown to the point where we couldn’t access it.”

Would not cook in there

Would not cook in there

“Assured that it would have been tidied up, by September (three months after the tenancy began) it was out of control, only to be made worse by a severe water leak turning our garden into a stinking bog for the duration of the summer.

“In the end, my mum came to Cardiff from Somerset for the day with a strimmer, after they refused to do anything. They’ve shown no remorse on this matter, which angers me, as it is affecting my family.”

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Leaky

What actions did your house take to solve this issue?

“I spent two months sending emails literally every other day, to which I received a response to less than half.

“We felt forced to phone the council, who have actually been around today and have been more than helpful.”

What did the council have to say about the property?

“The guy said that this was one of the worst cases he had seen for student housing. He was surprised that things had been allowed to get this bad.

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Shocking

“He also let us know that a requirement of a six bed house was to have two ovens and two sinks or a sink and a dishwasher in the kitchen, so the agency or the landlord would have to get that sorted for us before they can get their safety license for the property.”

What do you want the outcome of this situation to be?

“I just want the agency to do work to the house that has been well overdue. I want them to accept responsibility. It isn’t much to ask for our house to be kept to the minimum living standard and they just haven’t done that. It feels like a constant battle. I just want it to end.”

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I’ve heard of needing a trim but…

What advice would you give to new students looking for their first property in Cardiff?

“Check out the online reviews of your letting agents. Also, have everything in writing. If there are any issues, do not phone. Email. That way you can prove everything you have addressed and can keep it as evidence. Also if you don’t feel like you know enough about your rights as a tenant then seek out advice from your university.”

Due to the fragility of the current situation anonymity has been kept on both sides.
If you have had similar experiences with letting agents please email: [email protected]