All landlords are bad, but landlords who have young people as tenants are the worst. In fact, along with parking inspectors, PE teachers and their close and equally grim allies, estate agents, they are – for good reason – some of the most deeply reviled people in the UK.
Why? Read these accounts and you'll understand.
Charlotte, 22, Lab Assistant
A month ago our landlord left us with shit bubbling out of the shower drain and flooding the bathroom for three days. You could smell the thick, eggy stench of fresh sewage from halfway up the street. When we rang the estate agent to be like, "Why is there still shit everywhere?" they were so rude, and it wasn't until three days later that they finally got plumbers in to fix it, leaving us to clean up all the shit. We had to wrap ourselves up in bin bags and buy those medical masks so we could actually breathe without inhaling some toxic poo air.
We had to scoop it all up with rubber-gloved hands and flush it down the toilet. My flatmate vomited everywhere so we were dealing with two body fluids. We used about five bottles of bleach to get rid of that smell. At the end of the ordeal the estate agent tried to charge us for damages; he said it was our fault that the drain was blocked. Which was literally bullshit.
Max, 25, Masters Student UCL
I live in an ex-council flat. It's owned by some rich grandpa in Hong Kong and managed by this estate agent who obviously spends his days in the office picking his nose and scrolling through Facebook, because he doesn't do anything except charge a £130 "service fee".
For two months we had no light in either bathroom – they're beam lights that needed to be removed by an electrician – so we had to keep the door open while we showered. The girls I love with were not happy. When we finally managed to get an electrician in he told us that there was water pouring through the light fitting in the downstairs bathroom, which could result in some kind of explosion.
Apparently our bath had never been properly waterproofed so there was loads of damp. It could have dropped through the ceiling at any moment, crushing the people in the bedroom below. The emergency plumbers thought it was fucking hilarious that we were paying £635 a month each.
Grace, 20, promoter
I've got two. Two years ago I moved into a house with some friends. We were told the place was furnished with a bed in each room – as one would expect. My housemate's bed had half of the slats broken. She slept on the floor for six months before the landlord gave her a new one, a month before we moved out.
In another house I lived at we went on a weekend away and the landlord brought some builders in to renovate part of my room while I was gone without telling me. I came back and, as well as having my privacy breached, there was a saw on my bed – horror movie style – and all my stuff was caked in dust.
Amandine, 20, Student
I had a really bad experience the first time I rented a room. The landlady told me she would make me sign a contract once everyone had moved in, which seemed normal, but months later she never supplied one. She was also living in the house, along with three other tenants. She would constantly accuse us of stealing – "I had three satsumas and now there's only two, I want to know who took my fruits" – but she would take things from our cupboards like it was her right.
Sometimes when I was in my room reading or studying I'd hear her come up the stairs and then stop in front of my room so close that I could hear her breathe behind my door – it was really creepy. At one point the flush button in the toilet didn't work well, so she told me that since it was working before I arrived it had to be my fault and that she had to replace the whole toilet and that she would take away my deposit for it.
During my exam revision period I was sick and had to revise at home, and when I mentioned this to her she turned off the wifi until she came back.
She ended up kicking me out in the middle of my exam period, saying she didn't like having strangers in the house. I never got my £600 deposit back. I contacted her several times, as did my parents and the university legal services, but because there was no contract in the first place there was nothing I could do about it. Seriously painful year. I don't know now why I even stayed, I was really scared.