Students have raised concerns that letting signs and the information published on the letting agents’ websites are risking their safety, in areas already susceptible to crime.
On 22nd January, a property on Nicholas Street had £1,500 worth of electrical items stolen. P.C. Farrar inspected the property and stated that, “the theft was not carried out by professionals because the thieves didn’t take their shoes off before they entered the property” adding, “they took some things and not others which may have been more valuable.”
Adam Bennett spoke to Nouse about the potential danger of putting up letting signs in popular student housing areas. Bennett said that he had approached the other large student letting agents, such as Sinclair Properties, AP York and IG properties about “running with zero boards this year” but that other landlord agents weren’t in agreement.
“Landlords need to be careful how they advertise their properties publicly, particularly as a lot of students find properties through landlords and/or online rather than by spotting the signs in the street”.
Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer
He added that boards were in reality a “marketing tool” and that if he didn’t advertise with letting signs when the other letting agents were he would lose business.
Robert MacMahon, from APYork, said that: “Though I honestly doubt it would make much difference, APYork would be more than happy to consider a proposal to stop using boards if this was supported by all of the other three of the largest student agents”
However Neil McTurk, from Sinclair properties, suggested that they already had, “comprehensive information on security, more than any other agent.”
Another student, who had her bike stolen, has called her letting agent, Sinclair Properties, “irresponsible” for putting letting signs up outside her house before Christmas as it is well known that students leave their houses then. The Police Officer who investigated this theft said that it was an “organised crime” and that the thieves “probably knew there were bikes there”.
Bennett has also called Sinclair Properties “irresponsible” for “publishing the full address of the property, with photographs and sometimes floor plans” which meant “anyone could just sit at home on the computer and gain vital information to student properties”.
But McTurk claimed that Bennett, “would say that because we give our tenants as much information as possible and he doesn’t”, and stated that “we put our letting boards up after Christmas” because of students going home for the holiday period.
McTurk added “we provide floor plans but there is no evidence to show that this is dangerous” and MacMahon played down the association between crime and the letting agents’ signs outside students’ houses, stating: “It is far too easy and too tempting to link a theft to a letting sign.”
Bennett also mentioned that, many “letting sites advertise flat screens, DVD players” as well as listing that there are bike sheds and car spaces; which he added “made houses more vulnerable” because thieves have a prior knowledge of specific valuables and can plan a robbery accordingly.
But Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, commenting on the situation, stated: “Landlords need to be careful how they advertise their properties publicly, particularly as a lot of students find properties through landlords and/or online rather than by spotting the signs in the street”.
Hughes went on to add that he would “raise [this issue] with the York Landlords Association.”