Fairfax House charged nearly £3,000 for damaging furniture

Former residents of Fairfax House face a charge of approximately £2,500 plus VAT for damaging four sofas

Students who lived in Fairfax House, which is part of Vanbrugh College, during their first year at the University have been asked to pay around £2,500 plus VAT to replace four damaged sofas in the common room. The total cost of the charge is expected to be nearly £3,000.


Residents were sent an email in June warning them that the whole house would be fined if no one owned up to causing the damage after it was brought to the attention of Lenore Klassen, Vanbrugh’s College Administrator, by Jane Whyman, Fairfax House’s Facilities Manager.

However, no one confessed to being responsible for the damage, which means former residents are now facing a fine of £30-£35 each. Three students who checked out before 13 June will be exempt from the fine as the damage to the sofas was reportedly caused the following weekend.

Many students have branded the fine “unfair” as they did not use the common room or cause the damage, whilst others feel the amount of the money they are being asked to pay is excessive.

One former resident of Fairfax House told Nouse: “To be honest I think it’s terrible opportunism by the people in charge. They’ve seen a bit of damage and they’re trying to exploit us to improve Fairfax because they know it’s substandard accommodation for the price. Those sofas were never £700 each and none of them were irreparable. It’s disgraceful from the University and I suggest that if they do put a fine near what they said, nobody pays it and when attention comes to it they’ll realise that the claims for that figure are a joke.”

Another former resident said: “It’s not fair on any of us to be charged that much and I don’t think there’s any one person or group responsible for the damage.”

However, some students have accepted that sharing the cost of the repairs is the fairest solution, with one student saying: “In my personal opinion, we’re just going to have to grin and bear it. It is deeply saddening that whoever did it has not come forwards, and I hope they feel ashamed of themselves, but we are a community and I feel it is only right that we share the bill equally.”

A email has since been sent to Klassen, who is currently on annual leave, asking her to reconsider the amount former residents of Fairfax House are being charged and provide receipts for the sofas alongside photographic evidence of the damage to the furniture.


  1. These sofas can be repaired for much cheaper!
    Typical attitude of universities who look for any opportunity to milk students for money.

    2014 and we don’t have washing machines in each kitchen, why? Because they make so much more money having laundry and exploiting students.

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  2. @ss
    If washing machines are installed in individual kitchens then:
    1. Much larger number of washing machines needs to be installed in every college (circa 5 times more). This is a significant additional cost.
    2. Broken washing machines would have to be maintained as a matter of urgency as all flat residents will have no facilities to wash their clothes while the machine is down (in a laundrette model students can just use another machine and downtime of a single machine has negligible effect). This kind of maintenance is much more expensive and requires more frequent replacements – so yet more costs.
    The costs would have to be recovered from somewhere (despite the popular opinion, Heslington Hall is not build on a pile of gold) – ‘somewhere’ will be rent levels.

    Re: sofas.
    1. It is usually not practicable to arrange repair of furniture. The staff (admin and maintenance) time for arranging repair will eat into other jobs’ ‘time budgets’ and more staff would have to be hired. The costs of salary of the additional staff will be comparable with the cost of replacement.
    2. In many cases repaired furniture doesn’t look as good as new and/or has a tendency of breaking down more quickly. It is unfair to pass this ‘buck’ to next year residents.
    No private landlord will agree to repair something that was maliciously/negligently damaged by residents instead of replacing like-for-like.
    There is no way of knowing from the article whether the kind of damage in Fairfax indicates that it was a result of malicious actions. However, where damages are malicious (and this includes drunken ‘incidents’ as well as horsing-around-gone-too-far) it is important to remember that repairs/replacement are not a normal service that is provided by the University (or a private landlord); what happens in those cases is vandalism and a serious breach of contract.
    It is unfortunate to say the least that those responsible don’t have integrity to come forward and that others who may know who caused the damage don’t provide information out of misguided ‘loyalty’ to friends.

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    • I think the issue here is that most residents don’t feel that this damage was malicious at all and was merely a result of wear and tear throughout the year.

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    • 6 Jul ’14 at 7:29 pm

      A Fairfax resident

      The issue isn’t about passing blame, and I know that repairing it will cost as much as a new sofa. The issue is the price they are setting on it being way too steep to just be for sofas. The other fact is the sofas in there were not bought new for residents this year, and as such a full price shouldn’t be taken.

      It’s further complicated due to Fairfax House being worse accommodation than most. How many other places of accommodation do not have fridges in their actual kitchen? Or for that matter have kitchens barely suitable for four people to be shared between 20?

      For most residents it’s not just the fact we’re getting shafted over sofas, it’s that it’s the straw that broke the camels back.

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    • @[email protected]
      Your arguments about washing machines is wrong!

      On average I use 2 washes and dry and it costs me £8 a week. There are 15 students in my house if each of them just had 1 wash and dry a week it will cost them in total £60 a week for the house! Paying rent for 30 weeks contract, they make at least over £1,800 a year from one house from wash and dry!

      One high end washing machine does not coat £1,800 a year to run and maintain for one house.

      They is not having washing machines in each house as more profitable, you must be an fool not to notice.

      Please don’t feed me bull, this is all about milking us students.

      And you are also wrong about sofa abut I am not going to get to the details you clearly don’t understand how to run an organization efficiently.

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  3. My accommodation in Derwent has one hob cooker for 16 people including me, and it is self catered! What a total joke!

    Illegal immigrants live in better conditions in the UK than students at York.

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  4. In addition to the washing machine costs above:

    Just adding £1.50 to weekly rent would be enough to run and maintain a washing machine in 1 house. Since a 30 week contract would make £720 a year. A high end washing machine does not break down all the time, maybe once a year!

    Next day call out to fix a broken washing machine will not cost a fortune, and I am sure students can wait 24 hours to wash their clothes, in the same way we wait at home when our washing machine breaks down.

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  5. Shoulda gone to DFS, shit’s always on sale there

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  6. I am a parent of a child in Fairfax – now moved on to private accommodation – we were discussing this issue with the new landlord – they said they would never charge the whole price of replacement – just a percentage – you expect damage and wear and tear – a vast amount of students have the use of the area – are the replacements not covered by insurance??

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