‘Weed or mould?’: Lancaster students tell us their student housing horror stories

‘Our whole back garden was covered in human shit and there were tampons in it’

Moving out of halls and into a house with your best mates in second year is just another part of the wonderful uni experience. It is an exciting time for many and should be a relatively stress-free experience. However, for some, it is not all fairy lights, candles, and fluffy cushions.

For some Lancaster students moving into a new house is damp, rats, and heating issues. To requote Forrest Gump: “Student housing is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”. Student housing isn’t about expecting five-star treatment, it’s more like being a contestant on Deal or No Deal and opening a box with 1p in.

From poo-covered gardens to fishy freezers, here are just some of the many housing horror stories that Lancaster students have endured.

There was a suspicious green substance in desk drawers?

“I walked into my new home innocent, hopeful, and naïve. What I found upon entry was absolutely disgusting and I have never been the same again. I found rat droppings, towels stuffed behind headboards, a hole in my bedroom ceiling, my bins stolen, and to top it off the hot water didn’t work.

“The real cherry on top was the suspicious green dust I found coated in my desk drawers. After conducting an Instagram poll to determine what this substance was, it was decided that it was in fact weed and not mould (since it was neither wet nor damp).

“What tipped me over the edge though was the police knocking at my door during my first 9am, with a court-ordered warrant for the guy who used to live in the property. He was apparently  ‘known to be active in the area’. What does that mean? Why do you want this guy? What did he do? I never got to know the answers to these questions but all I can say is it frightened me.”

The poo and tampon incident that happened… twice

For context, Emily clarified that their house was at the end of the street, and so “all the pipes ran into the grid that was in our garden.”

“One day we came home, and the house smelt foul, so we went outside to put the bins out and I stepped in something and nearly slipped. IT WAS LITERAL SHIT

“Basically, the drain had overfilled, exploded, and our whole back garden was covered in human shit and there were tampons in it and everything, it was awful. This happened twice.”

We are shooketh.

“I found a dirty bra in my draw”

There are quite a lot of horrors that students have to put up with, after all, we can’t afford to live in the Ritz. These students listed some of the issues they had when moving in.

“We couldn’t cook as the microwave was broken and every time we turned the hob on it tripped the electric in the whole house.”

“We could only use one shower as the seals were broken on the rest (we were paying extra for en-suite).”

“The walls were disgusting, there was rubbish in the house that wasn’t ours and I found a dirty bra in my draw.”

“They tried to charge me for a mattress clean (£18) and wall repaint (three walls = £90) out of my deposit which is just awful considering that needed doing before we even moved in.”

“We don’t want other students to have to put up with what we have put up with, you can get far better for £120 per week.”

Rats are just a part of uni life

One Lancs student, Rhianna, told us: “We’ve had to set up rat traps in our courtyard because when we moved in, all of the previous tenants rubbish was polluting the courtyard. This wasn’t moved for over a week.”

Many students seem to have to deal with rubbish that does not belong to them…but hey ho, guess we’ll just grit our teeth and make do, right?

A 10 minute shower that floods the whole floor

Wiki told us: “The shower has always been a little blocked and no amount of bleach or plunger would unblock it. It got to the point where after a 10-minute shower, the whole hall (with carpets) would be flooded.”

After reporting this issue multiple times a plumber came and “it turns out somewhere three meters down the pipes, there was a big clump of hair and…a condom that blocked our whole shower.”

Not ideal, really.

“There were thousands upon thousands of spiders”

Imogen told us that some workmen showed up out of the blue to fix a hole in their bathroom. They were told it would take three days. It did not.

“Three weeks later, the whole bathroom had been redone meaning we had to leave the property for a number of days as the floor had to be ripped up.

“The workmen had left the drain uncovered so by the time we got back, the whole house smelt of raw sewage. There were also thousands upon thousands of spiders.”

Thousands of spiders? No thanks. Why couldn’t it be “follow the butterflies?” Why indeed.

Fishing for problems

Now, when you arrive at a new place, usually all of the electric appliances have been switched off – including the fridge and freezer. That’s standard practise. What isn’t standard, however, is what Emm told us was found on move-in day: “One of the freezers had a whole fish that had been left unfrozen all summer. It was absolutely revolting.”

Top tip: if you plan on switching off the electrics please, please, please empty the fridge/freezer.

“I just laugh at how stupid it is”

In an homage to Charlie Bucket, Thomas told us about his living conditions: “The house we lived in had a plug socket next to my bed and if it was windy outside the wind would come through the socket. One morning I work up and it was so cold that the inside of the window was iced over.

“The bathroom also had no windows for ventilation and constantly had black mould on the wall. I just laugh at how stupid it is.”

Well if you can’t laugh about it, you’ll just end up crying. Shame we aren’t laughing anymore.

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