Letting go of the accommodation frenzy

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Choosing your accommodation will never be one of the most carefree life choices you make. Just look at University accommodation and how stressful that was to choose and secure. The first year accommodation acts as a stepping stone between home and the ‘real’ world, and nobody is ready to be pushed off it yet.

Second year accommodation will only briefly have troubled the minds of first-years. However, as more and more posters, flyers, and agency letters sneak their way onto campus, the on-campus housing agency seems to be becoming the place to check out sometime in the not-too-distant future. The posters, promoting the thousands of student houses York has to offer, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Eight weeks in should we really be wasting time worrying about next years accommodation?

York is reputable for its large student population, with almost 30 per cent of the population between 16 and 34 years old. It’s not surprising that letting agencies have cottoned on to the sheer amount of investment potential lurking in York’s two universities, irrespective of the fact that we have been living away from home for less than nine weeks.

I think it is absolutely ludicrous that companies are already promoting student houses. They are not renting because they have good quality houses; they are renting out of greed. The amount of paper we have been sent in the past few weeks is quite frankly intimidating, unnecessary, and practically single-handedly destroying the rainforests. These posters and letters are purely an egotistical self-indulgent competition between the housing companies that will inevitably become more aggressive as we make our way into the second term. It’s like a group of toddlers fighting over a shiny new toy – an issue they need to sort out between themselves. And it’s the first years, who have only just settled in to their first accommodation away from home, who suffer. Imagine what would happen if we were sent a letter telling us that we actually needed to start looking for accommodation next year. All hell would break loose.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to students in James, Goodricke, and Halifax when they were sent a letter telling students to start looking for a house ‘BEFORE the Christmas break’. The thought of not having a house next year if you hadn’t sorted out your accommodation by Christmas must have sent some of them into a frenzy. The problem is that students are at their most vulnerable during the first term as information from YUSU and the University is scarce and some housing companies can take advantage of that.

The companies who are advertising themselves around this time of year are bound to set their prices higher – because there is little competition. They start advertising early so that we still remember their name when it gets to February and we actually need to start looking. Students are not pre-warned about the companies like this one who intimidate first years into a state of submission.

This is why I feel the need to constantly remind myself that choosing a house is a big deal, and should not be rushed into like it’s going out of fashion – because it’s definitely not. Above all, we need to decide who we want to spend the next few years living with.

We should focus on living and enjoying the accommodation that we have already paid for first, before we write the deposit cheque for next year’s home. There is absolutely no way that York will run out of its 2,400 student houses before Christmas. We couldn’t even move into the accommodation early if we wanted to because, believe it or not, there are still people living there. So maybe, now is the time to just sit down at the table in the flat most first-years pay over £100 per week to live in, and drink the Morrison’s value tea that you bought because you can’t afford Yorkshire Tea. Forget about the dream house that you spotted online with a huge garden and private parking; we can all cross that bridge when we get to it. I’ll race you.

2 comments

  1. 9 Dec ’11 at 2:58 am

    Beth Campbell

    I particularly like the illustration that goes along side this article.

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  2. The scathing tone of this article seems a little unnecessary. I would contest the assumption that landlords and companies are promoting their businesses out of greed, and suggest that in the current economic climate every business has struggles and they are simply being prepared, and getting their name recognised for after the Christmas break when students start looking for houses. It pays to be a little ahead of the game, and at the moment a lot of people need that extra ‘pay’.

    The comment that letting agents have engaged in an ‘egotistical self-indulgent competition’ is narrow, and the author does not appear to have much knowledge of the nature of business in the adult world. It is odd to refer to advertisement of a company as ‘self indulgent’, as this implies that the persons advertising their business are doing so for vanity’s sake rather than to provide themselves an income, which I suggest is the case.

    ‘It’s like a group of toddlers fighting over a shiny new toy – an issue they need to sort out between themselves’ – businesses, particularly in a field as competitive as real estate, are naturally in competition and this is healthy. The phraseology and tone of this article, therefore, seems slightly off – and there seems to be a lack of understanding of business principles in general and how advertisement for companies works.

    I understand what the author was trying to convey, but I would encourage her to be less provocative in her use of language and metaphor. It is important to be passionate about a topic, however it is easy to come across sounding scornful and condescending to those you don’t necessarily understand. Perhaps it would have been better to do some research before writing this article, ie. contacting the letting agencies concerned and investigating the motives behind their early advertisement.

    I do mean this comment to be constructively critical, and hope that the author can take it on board.

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