Freshers living in hotels after burst pipe ‘floods’ Unite Students accommodation

Videos show water gushing from the ceiling and down corridors

Students have been sent to live in hotels, after a burst pipe “flooded” their Unite Students university halls.

Just a couple of weeks after moving in, on Saturday afternoon a burst pipe caused water to “come flooding through the building”.

First year students living in the halls told The Tab they were able to get “essentials and valuables”, and then had to “evacuate”.

Rooms at the halls, Mercury Point, start from £132 per week. The accommodation houses 562 students in Southampton city centre, from both Solent University and the Uni of Southampton, and students say two blocks of student flats are affected by the leak.

A spokesperson for Unite Students apologised for the “stress and inconvenience” caused by the burst pipe, and told The Tab: “We’re working hard to put right the issues caused by this leak.”

Water coming from the ceiling. For videos head to @thetab_ on Instagram

Lily, who is a first year fashion and beauty media student at Solent after finishing a foundation degree, said some people were “hiding in their rooms” in fear when it happened. She says people are worried about their personal items potentially being damaged by the water. Lily’s boyfriend was able to bring his car to the halls so she could put her belongings in there, but she says many had to just leave items in their rooms.

“So many students walking around with lots of suitcases”, she said. “We could leave them in reception but people also had a lot of stuff in their rooms.”

Students were told they’d get emergency accommodation, but some were forced to wait hours and “did not get hotels or anywhere to stay” until the early hours of Sunday morning. One first year, Chloe*, said the hotel she was offered “was over an hour and a half away from my uni”, so she stayed on her friend’s floor. The next day she got a train home, and is now commuting to uni on an hour-long train that costs £30. She was told Unite would reimburse her for this cost.

“I understand they’re trying their best however it’s difficult, some of us don’t have the money to pay out of pocket”, she said. Unite said all students affected have been offered temporary alternative accommodation, including meals and any travel expenses.

Lily went to one hotel in Southampton on the first night, but was told she had to be out by midday. She was then told she was booked into a hotel “miles away” in Portsmouth for the next night, so made the decision to just go home. She wants to be able to go back to uni as soon as possible, but says: “I can’t hotel hop with all my stuff”.

“I feel really depressed to be honest”, she said. “I do feel really supported though, there’s a lot of people there for me but I just want to be able to easily go to uni and not have to stress!” She says she’s “exhausted” and has otherwise really enjoyed uni so far, so feels like she’s “missing out on so much” – but her uni have been supporting her.

Lily, at her graduation from her previous foundation degree

Chloe described the ordeal as “inconvenient and stressful”, she’s worried about not being able to get to her uni and being without her personal items. She went home with just two changes of clothes and a change of nightwear.

“We pay extortionate prices for student accommodation which is usually paid for by student finance – then we are slumped with debts in the future. But what we pay isn’t reflected – our walls our paper thin … and I’m sure this flood situation could have been avoided. It just isn’t really good enough!”, she said.

Lily now doesn’t want to go back to the halls. She has moved out, says she has been released from her contract, and is now looking for alternative accommodation elsewhere in Southampton.

A spokesperson for Unite Students told The Tab: “We are sorry for the stress and inconvenience this burst water pipe has caused students living at our Mercury Point property. We’re working hard to put right the issues caused by this leak.

“Every student affected has been offered temporary alternative accommodation in hotels, inclusive of their meals and any travel expenses incurred.

“We want to thank our residents for their patience. Our priority is their safety, and we will continue to provide them with regular updates. We are also working closely with our university partners to provide additional support.” The Tab has also contacted Unite Students for additional comment.

Have you had a uni accommodation crisis this year? Whether it’s in halls or with a private landlord – if you have a story you think we should know about, get in touch at [email protected]

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*Chloe asked for her real name to be changed to preserve her anonymity