The good, the bad and the ugly: Cardiff students’ experiences of renting at university

42 per cent of students had trouble getting their deposits back

Student houses are regarded as a thing of nightmares. Often, students are forced to put up with mold, rats, and dodgy landlords because it’s their first time renting, and they aren’t sure how to resolve the issues at hand. We wanted to find out Cardiff students experiences with renting in the city.

45 per cent of students voted they were unhappy with their letting agents

The Cardiff Tab took to Instagram to ask if they were happy with their letting agents, with 55 per cent of students voting yes, and 45 per cent voting no.

When asked if they would use their letting agents again, out of 721 students who voted, 59 per cent voted that they WOULD use them again, suggesting an overall positive experience. However, the rest of the students we spoke to were unhappy with their experiences and claimed they would NOT use their letting agency again. The Cardiff Tab spoke to some of these students about their often horrific experiences, and here’s what they had to say…

‘We are not even supposed to be living in the property’

A second-year student shared their horror story, telling The Cardiff Tab, “we have had a massive issue as old tenants didn’t pay their gas bill in full. This lead to a massive bill, a court date, then a warrant being issued”. They went on to explain that, “Every time we got a new letter, we gave it to our landlord who repeatedly said he would fix it and didn’t. It has so far totaled up to over £1,500 in bills that have been sent to us”.

To make matters even worse, this student told us that the landlord “hasn’t had an HMO license since January and won’t respond to the council who have been trying to contact him”.

42 per cent of students said they’ve had trouble getting their deposit back 

It is a common issue that students struggle to get the entirety of their deposits back whilst at university. Whether they’ve broken the table from a game of beer pong that went wrong, or they’ve stained the carpet with blue VKs.

One student told The Cardiff Tab that when they moved into their house, “it was revolting! And when moving out cleaned it top to bottom, even painted over marks on walls that were there previously and they took the majority of our deposit for ‘cleaning’ and said the sofa was broken… it wasn’t”.

All too often, landlords take advantage of university students who have no previous renting experience, and lack the money to pay for legal fees to take the case further. In 2020, comedian, Joe Lycett, visited Cardiff as part of his Got Your Back television series, exposing the unfair treatment of students by letting agents such as CPS homes.

Credit: Instagram @joelycett

Joe Lycett, alongside Made in Chelsea star, Jamie Laing, held the UK’s first ever consumer’s rights rave, aiming to educate students on their renting rights.

“We had debt collectors come to the flat as they hadn’t been paying our gas and electricity bills”

One flat of students was woken early one morning to find they had an outstanding bill of £500, even though their rent is bills included.

The student told The Cardiff Tab, “one of us had to pay the outstanding £500”. The student went on to explain that, “The debt collectors failed to get in contact with the estate agent and we had to chase them up to pay us back. Since then, we have had issues with the wifi not being strong enough to do online learning, we get kicked out of meetings, internet cuts out, etc and we’re told as our name is on the account we have to sort it”. What a nightmare, and it’s happening to students across the country.

‘It took them two months to get rid of our rat problem’

Rats have long been a problem in student housing. Rats and silverfish have long been a problem in student housing. It’s life. But one student told The Cardiff Tab, “we heard rats in the walls since we moved in, tried to ignore it as pretty common in a student house. When we came back after Xmas, they were everywhere. We all moved out, obviously, as they were in bedrooms, behind the sofa, and getting into my housemate’s cupboard. We contacted them but took them so long to sort it we caught over five in the house ourselves”.

This student told us, ‘The lady we emailed acted like we were being inconvenient to her when really we just wanted to move back into our house. Spoke to last year’s tenant and apparently, they’ve been a problem for years.” It’s wrong that landlords get away with problems as serious as these. Students have enough to worry about, without having to spend their day catching rats.

‘I didn’t know we had a landlord until he turned up one day with his girlfriend and new puppy to spend the day in the garden’

Now this is a new one. A landlord coming to chill at the house with you? Don’t bother unless you’re bringing a crate of VK’s and a new washing machine, since that’s kaput too.

This student also told The Cardiff Tab, “I locked myself out my room once so called the letting agency to get a spare key and they told me to pay the maintenance man £60. Called maintenance man and he asked if I’d sleep in the living room for the night”. This one just proves that student landlords are all take and no give.

To help students find information on different letting agencies in Cardiff, two former Cardiff Metropolitan students created a website called, Rate Your Landlord Cardiff. The two students were sick of students being ripped off, and angry that the council never seemed to do anything about it. They put the power in students’ hands, allowing them to make informed decisions when choosing a letting agency to reduce their chances of a bad experience.

All in all, student lettings agents can be pretty shit. However, over half of students voting that they would use their letting agents again shows that they are not all bad and it really does depend on who you go with.

The moral of the story is to always research your letting agents and listen to past students’ experiences where it is possible before signing a house. And if all that fails, maybe we’ll have to get Joe Lycett to hold another rave.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• What your choice of halls at Cardiff uni says about you

• There is now a website that allows you to rate landlords in Cardiff

• Things in Cardiff student houses that just make sense