By Niamh McCleary, 3rd Year History
It’s your first day of university. You tearfully wave your parents off, a bittersweet moment as you realise that you are now entirely responsible for looking after yourself. Time to wash your own clothes (or just don’t wash), make your own food (or just eat toast for a year), and find your own property to let for the subsequent two years – unfortunately there’s no avoiding that one.
Naturally, the prospect of having to find your own house for your second year of university can be very daunting. Not only have you probably never considered how to even go about renting a property, you most likely are more focused on the important things: making friends with people you actually like, attending circa three hours (at a push) of uni a week, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol despite having had freshers' flu since week one. Nevertheless, it does have to be done.
There are loads of student lettings agencies to choose from in Bristol, however, taking four of the most eminent ones I hope to give any first-time student letters an insight into what to watch out for when finding your new university home.
Here is a run-down of some of the best (and worst) student lettings agencies Bristol has to offer. In absolutely no particular order, of course.
Abode - 4/10
When I personally think of Abode I experience a strange sense of sentimentality, having been the first agency I used to rent my second year house. Yet, when I remember the finer details of using this lettings agency, this feeling abruptly comes to an end. Located at the top of Whiteladies Road, it does provide an ideal location for those living in Stoke Bishop, having to walk less than ten minutes to get there – an obvious bonus for the lazier of students. Most of their student lets are in the lovely area of Redland, another positive. However, as I have alluded to, this agency has caused issues. They seem to lack a relationship with the landlords with whom they work, and thus when houses need minor repairs (such as a bedroom door handle falling off, in my case) it is months before it is fixed – if at all. Online reviews echo a similar story: students are not taken seriously by Abode, our problems are disregarded, and it is something of a miracle to get your deposit back.
Kingsley Thomas - 5/10
Kingsley Thomas provide an interesting case in terms of student lettings agencies. If you follow the trend of reviews that have recently been submitted to the anonymous Facebook page ‘Bristruths’ (if you don’t know what this is, what do you do in your spare time?), it would seem that Kingsley Thomas are by no means the king of student lettings. One student even writes that Kingsley Thomas were the “(bleeping) worst” and should be “avoided for anyone looking for 2019 houses”. Yikes. Having said this, various other online reviews have awarded them five stars, suggesting that they are both professional and accommodating. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing if these are student reviews, and thus once again begs the question of if it is just we students who are treated with such hostility.
Epigram / Tom Taylor
Bristol Property Centre - 7/10
Bristol Property Centre is the agency that I am currently using. While it has only been a month since I have moved in, there have been very few problems, although I can’t rule out that this positive response is due to the very (perhaps slightly overly) involved landlord. It would seem he is recovering from the chaos that the previous year’s tenants caused him; I witnessed this chaos myself in the form of multiple house parties and can confirm that I too would be traumatised. Whilst the agency themselves have responded quickly to queries and been helpful when approached, it must be noted that their agency fees are not far off a fortune, and whether you’re paying by student loan - or a loan from Daddy – no one wants to waste money on this.
Bristol SU Lettings - 8/10
'They work closely with the landlords to make sure students are treated like the mature(ish) 20-year-olds they are'
Ah yes. This is what you have been waiting for (other than your next lecture being cancelled). A letting agency who are genuinely great! Bristol SU Lettings are owned by Bristol’s Student Union which means that if it wasn’t a reliable agency, I would be wholly questioning the morals of every university student-led group – not to be dramatic. They know exactly what students want, there are no letting fees (!), and they work closely with the landlords to make sure students are treated like the mature(ish) 20-year-olds they are. Does this sound too good to be true? A little. Bristol SU Lettings don’t tend to have as many properties as other letting agencies, and the ones they do have are snapped up quickly.
The sad truth of the matter is that as a student you will not be taken as seriously as working adults by any of the commercial agencies I've compared, and thus are bound to encounter some problems. On many levels the way we are treated is incredibly unfair, and thus Bristol SU Lettings may seem like the only option, but just think - when it's 1am on a Wednesday, and you’re standing in the outside area of a club (a VK probably in your hand), what else will you bond over with strangers, if not the dreadful lettings agencies that are stealing your money and refusing to fix your bedroom door handle?
Featured image: Epigram / Hannah Worthington
What do you think about the student lettings agencies available in Bristol? Epigram wants to know! Get in touch: