The Horizon Properties office has been covered in writing criticising their service

Horizon is now pursuing legal action

Cardiff letting agency Horizon Properties is facing criticism from students regarding deposits, the condition of their properties, as well as other maintenance issues like inspections and servicing.

Several students, together with the tenants union ACORN, made their complaints towards the letting agency heard by writing on the main entrance of their office on Sengenhydd Road, as well as on the pavement outside.

Horizon are now pursuing legal action.

Pictures of the scene show statements such as: “Horizon intimidate their tenants for asking for fair legal treatment” and “don’t trust Horizon”, written over the property. Horizon are now pursuing legal action.

A spokesperson from ACORN told The Cardiff Tab: “One of the biggest issues facing people in Cardiff is its private rental sector. Rent prices are expensive, properties are often in bad condition and poorly maintained, and letting agents and landlords can be extraordinarily difficult to deal with – particularly for students, but for others too.”

The ACORN spokesperson also described the incident that sparked the protest. They told The Cardiff Tab: “Towards the end of January, Ieva [a union member and Horizon tenant] messaged us in a panic, as Horizon staff had come into her house unannounced as she was sat in bed.

“She heard them sticking something to her door, and then tried to enter her bedroom. Eventually they went away, and she came out to find a bunch of really aggressive letters, poorly written and full of errors, stuck to her door.

“They threatened her with all sorts, including threatening to sue her for defamation because of the reviews. Since then they’ve also threatened us and another one of our members. 

“We wanted to show that ACORN are not intimidated by bullies, and our chalk writing was our way of speaking directly to Horizon. We will fight for these rights for all of Cardiff’s residents.

“In this case, what we want is for our member, a student, to have fair bills – not a huge ask! Horizon’s stubborn refusal to help their tenant with bills that even they admit are unfair is why we’re taking direct action. If Horizon simply acted on their own words, there’d be no need for chalk writing!”

The Cardiff Tab spoke to students who were keen to share their experiences with the letting agency.

Corin Foxcroft, a third-year Modern Languages and Translation student described his experience as “overall very stressful.”

“When we moved in a lot was broken but it got steadily worse. I noticed some damp on the back wall of my bedroom so I reported it. They didn’t do anything so I kept reporting it and the damp kept getting worse.

“When we got the notice [for a council inspection] a few maintenance men from Horizon let themselves in to our flat to start work on the wall which woke my flatmate up. They told her that I needed to move all my stuff out of my bedroom ASAP so they could fix the wall but didn’t give me any alternative accommodation so I ended up sleeping on the tiny sofa in the living room for two weeks.

“I got my mum to yell at them until they offered me a room with a bunch of strangers well away from the uni at which point I just resigned myself to the sofa.”

He then claims to have contacted the university’s Student Advice team, and got in touch with the Property Redress Scheme who he says, “managed to get us £100 each back from Horizon but it took ages.”

A spokesperson for Horizon Properties was quick to comment on this individual incident: “Several months into the tenancy a damp wall was reported to the maintenance team, who in return gave notice that they would be coming to assess the problem, notice was then given for the repair to be carried out, the issue was dealt with, while the room was being repaired the tenant was offered alternative accommodation, which was refused.

“In addition to this the tenant was also refunded full rent for the duration of the inconvenience.”

Another student said that Horizon Properties “were awful.”  They claim to have found “mould, a broken bed, and long hairs all over the place”, as well as the “previous bins outside which had rats crawling in them”.

They also claim to have found a “full freezer of food from previous tenants”, and described it as ” disgusting”.

The student also shared images with The Cardiff Tab of the state in which they say they first received their house.

After being shown these images, a Horizon Properties spokesperson said: “It was handed over professionally cleaned as per cleaning receipt, all tenants are advised if they are unhappy with the cleaning to report back to us.

“The photographs do not portray the condition this property was handed over to the tenant.”

“We certainly have nothing to gain by handing over unclean properties and failing to carry out repairs.”

The spokesperson said that in regards to the specific circumstances of the recent incident, where students wrote on the agency’s main entrance of their office on Senghenydd Road, “We have not experienced an increasing number of complaints.

“We respond to tenant queries, maintenance issues or complaints using the appropriate method. We are keen to engage with tenants who feel they have an issue through the appropriate channels. However, the actions of a few have, without justification, caused disruption to our business and distress to myself and my colleagues.”

They added that the agency “are in the process of preparing legal papers.”

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