Revealed: The Biggest Student Housing Problems in Cardiff

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Learn how to address common problems that arise when sharing a house in Cardiff. Discover valuable resources that offer advice and solutions for HMO issues in the city.

House hunting can be tough for any student – whether that’s finding the right housemates to fitting in viewings around your studies. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a house, when the problems that might happen once you’ve moved in are far from your mind. Preparation is vital when it comes to achieving student house harmony. 

Our recent survey is part of our ongoing mission to make safe, comfortable, and high-quality student housing the norm. Our survey of students past and present has revealed that the path to happy house sharing is all but smooth: every one of our Cardiff-based respondents had experienced at least one major mishap in an HMO house share.

We’re dedicated to improving the quality of student housing across the UK, which is why we’ve launched Fighting For a Fair Deal For Students. We’ve got your back – keeping you in the know so you can secure the student experience you deserve. 

Read on to discover the biggest student housing problems in Cardiff:

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Splitting bills

Fighting over who owes what can be a real source of conflict in house shares. 

Whether it’s arguing about whose turn it is to take out the bins, or doing the washing up, there’s always something to disagree on. Splitting bills is a source of friction for 47% of Cardiff students.

Although rent will generally be the same from month to month, other costs such as water and energy costs can vary massively. This makes it tricky to work out who uses what, so often the easiest thing to do is split bills evenly. However, this can lead some housemates to feel they have been unfairly treated.

So how do you keep your budget under control? Work out what’s coming so there are no surprises. Wave goodbye to surprise costs with Here!’s guide to dodging hidden housing fees.

Did you know? If you’re a student in Cardiff, you don’t have to pay for all your utility bills separately. All-inclusive student accommodation is the best way to keep harmony in your household. When you choose to stay with Here! Student Living, your utility bills and broadband are included, so you can keep ahead of your monthly costs and avoid arguments. Your agreement will include one simple payment for everything – meaning you can get on with enjoying student life. 

Lack of security

University is often the first time many people move away from their families, which can be scary enough in itself without worrying about break-ins.

Student houses can unfortunately be a target for burglaries, thanks to lots of people coming and going, and many properties being unoccupied during the holidays. Properties that are poorly maintained and lack up-to-date security systems can also be targeted.

Our survey found that almost one-quarter of Cardiff students feel a lack of security in their HMO houses. So what can you do to protect yourself and your home?

  • Secure your bedroom. The communal nature of student house shares means that everyone can have access to your private space if you’re not careful. We suggest keeping your own valuables under lock and key. Ask your landlord to fit an internal lock for your door.
  • Make security a habit. HMO tenants may have different routines. From lectures to part-time jobs and seeing friends, people are coming and going from the property constantly. Communicate with your housemates about security, and ensure everyone locks windows and doors before leaving the house.
  • Contain the party. House parties are great fun but you can’t always keep track of who is coming or going. Keep the action in common areas such as the kitchen and living room, rather than bedrooms where valuables are kept.

As an extra precaution, it’s wise to get student contents insurance to cover high-value items such as computers and bikes. Although this can’t keep them from being stolen, it will cover the cost if the worst should happen. To learn more about why contents insurance is a worthwhile expense, read our guide to student contents insurance.

Did you know? Student contents insurance doesn’t always cover everything. Make sure you choose a policy that covers your items, as some such as high-spec bikes won’t be included as standard. 

Pest infestations

The last thing you want in your student house is uninvited guests. Pests in different forms can be an issue wherever you live – and 18% of Cardiff students reported pest infestations at their accommodation

So what can you do to limit the possibility of rats, cockroaches or bed bugs getting into your home?

  • Run a tight ship. A clean home has minimal appeal for pests. Cover leftovers and wipe counters down after you’ve finished cooking or eating.
  • Invest in a decent vacuum. Powerful, good quality vacuums can keep your floors free of crumbs, as well as remove small pests such as fleas or carpet beetles.
  • Take the bins out. Create a bin rota for you and your housemates and stick to it so that rubbish doesn’t build up in your home.

Did you know? You are responsible for keeping your home clean and tidy. However if repairs are needed to stop pests entering your home (such as holes in walls) your landlord is responsible for dealing with it. Read more about dealing with pests on the Shelter website.

Damp and mould

Older homes are prone to damp and mould issues. 41% of Cardiff students asked in our survey reported these problems in their properties.

Living in a damp environment can be detrimental to your health and your possessions.

If you’re already living in a house with these issues, your landlord may try to put the blame on you – for example, suggesting you should be opening windows and using the heating.

Although this may stop an issue from starting, it doesn’t help with ongoing problems.

To minimise damp problems in your student house, consider:

  • Using ventilation fans when cooking
  • Heating the property regularly
  • Keeping humidity under control by drying clothes outside when possible
  • Opening windows when showering or using appliances such as washing machines

If you’re doing all of these things but damp and mould persist, it could be a structural issue – so contact your landlord. They are responsible for carrying out repairs and essential maintenance at the property.

Did you know? Mould damages our health and can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and other respiratory illnesses. If you’re worried about the impacts of living with mould, find out more on the NHS website.

Unresponsive landlords

Whether your boiler is on the blink or your toilet won’t flush, your landlord will be your first port of call.

More than three-quarters of Cardiff students believe they aren’t treated fairly by their landlords. Almost 25% say their landlords ignore their calls, and 12% have issues claiming back their deposits after their tenancy has ended.

Remember that your landlord signed the contract when you did – agreeing to uphold certain conditions, including maintaining the property. According to Citizen’s Advice, landlords are required to carry out repairs ‘in reasonable time’. When they don’t answer your calls or emails – this extends the time before an issue is addressed.

Did you know? You don’t have to pay for professional cleaning at the end of your tenancy. The only requirement is that you leave the property in the same state of cleanliness in which you moved in – so make sure you take photos on the day you move in as a record. Find out everything you need to know about tenancy agreements in our handy guide to student tenancy agreements.

Are HMO house shares on their way out?

Cardiff students are obviously not content with the conditions they face in HMO properties – 76% consider, or have considered, alternative accommodation arrangements.

Other student living options offer increased safety and security, better standards of living, and hassle-free payment options compared with HMOs.

Of these alternatives, managed student accommodation is the most attractive, with 56% of UK respondents considering it over living at home or lodging. Perhaps students see managed accommodation as an antidote to the poor living conditions, communication issues, and unpredictability associated with HMO house sharing.

We’re fighting for a fair deal for students. Discover what the most common accommodation issues are, learn how to get more savvy when dealing with private landlords, and share your student rental horror stories. Find out more.