Four Edi students left homeless after a pipe burst in the Airbnb they were renting
The international students have been struggling to find a flat
Three fourth year students at Edinburgh University have been left with nowhere to live after the pipes burst in the Airbnb they were renting.
The students were forced to rent on Airbnb after failing to find any other flats in Edinburgh, due to a student housing shortage. As all three are international students, they have no UK guarantors which puts them in an even more difficult position when trying to find somewhere to rent.
After being kicked out of their Airbnb the students reached out to Edinburgh University for help, but they were unhappy with the uni’s advice as they felt they did not offer any solutions. According to one of the students, the message received was effectively: “We know the housing situation is bad. There are many other students in your position, so good luck on your search”.
However, a spokesperson for The University of Edinburgh said: “Our Accommodation, Catering and Events team have made an offer of help to every emergency request that has come to them”.
A spokesperson for Airbnb also commented, saying: “We were disappointed to learn about this experience, and have reached out to the guest to provide further support to help make things right.”
The students had returned to Scotland after Edi Uni sent out an email to all students in August saying: “We expect you to join us in Edinburgh for the start of the academic year”.
The uni is taking a hybrid approach to teaching, meaning students have some in person classes as well as online. This has left many international students needing to weigh up the difficulty of returning with the amount of actual contact hours they will receive. One of the students, who is a fourth year in law and German, felt she had to come back as she has eight contact hours a week.
The students paid around £3000 for just one month in the Airbnb, but upon arrival found it was in total disrepair with black mould growing in the bathroom, dirt everywhere, a non-functioning stove or oven, and locks on the doors that weren’t secure. Despite reaching out to the Airbnb host, they received no response for days.
This left the students having to spend even more money on eating out for almost every meal as they didn’t have a working kitchen, as well as feeling unsafe due to the locks not working.
Multiple screenshots of messages and photos sent from the students to their Airbnb host show the poor condition of the flat when they moved in. One message read: “Upon arriving in the flat, we noticed that the bathroom has black mould growing along the bottom of the shower, and the kitchen has leftover food and food spills in the drawers”.
The photos included clear instances of black mould, general dirt and stains around the flat.
The students sent multiple messages to their Airbnb host regarding the broken stove.
To make matters worse, a week later they received a complaint from the flat below about water leaking through the ceiling. This led to the students being told by the Airbnb host that they had to vacate immediately, as the pipe had burst.
The students were sent multiple messages from their host about the situation, first saying they would just have to “leave tonight because the shower/toilet will be unavailable”, but then saying “we are afraid you will have to be relocated”.
The students tried to communicate with Airbnb about finding an alternative flat, but received barely any response. In screenshots seen by The Edinburgh Tab, one of the students messaged Airbnb on Twitter detailing what had happened, only to be told: “Your case is with the right team, and they will get back to you with the details as soon as there is an update”.
Twelve hours later, the students had still not heard from anyone at Airbnb despite being repeatedly assured that someone would be in contact soon.
They finally managed to talk to someone at Airbnb a whole 24 hours after they were forced to leave the flat.
Airbnb then promised to give the students a £900 voucher to help them find a replacement flat during their displacement. However the student who booked the Airbnb had a block placed on her account, as she was under 25 and had less than three reviews on the site. The block meant she could only book single rooms rather than whole flats.
This meant that the three students were forced to couch surf while they tried to sort new accommodation.
As soon as the students were kicked out of their Airbnb they immediately reached out to Edinburgh University over the phone, but weren’t happy with the help they received. One of the fourth year students told The Edinburgh Tab: “We reached out to the Advice Place, to our personal tutors, to the head undergraduate personal tutor in the Business School, to the 24 hour hotline, to the accommodation service, only to receive the same message which was “good luck”.
“The head undergraduate personal tutor at the Business School told me that the housing situation is the worst it’s ever been in Edinburgh, but that the university doesn’t know why”.
In recent days, there have been multiple Edifess posts detailing Edi students’ struggles with trying to find a flat right now.
Talking to us about their ordeal with Airbnb and the uni, one of the students said: “I’ve had no time to go to class because I’m so occupied trying to find a roof over my head. But if I miss five classes my visa is jeopardised as I’m an international student.
“And now that Airbnb has failed to find us any alternative to this flat, I’ve just has to spend another £3000 for a month in a hotel”.
Eventually the uni offered one of the students to join a waitlist for one available room in Pollock Halls, after saying that there were no vacancies in any of the uni’s self-catered accommodation.
An Edinburgh Uni spokesperson said: “Our Accommodation, Catering and Events team have made an offer of help to every emergency request that has come to them, either directly from students or via the Advice Place. Not all students have accepted the offer of accommodation, but our team have always made an offer of a room.
“Two of the University’s hotels have been re-purposed to help meet the increased demand, with students living in them on a student rate for a short period of time until a permanent room becomes available. There are still rooms available at the moment and we continue to help those in need.
“As happened in this case, Personal Tutors can provide pastoral advice and signpost to services dedicated specially for this purpose.”