We were asked to answer a few questions for Cardiff University's official newspaper, Gair Rhydd, ahead of their Housing Week edition on 26th November. Some great questions, so we wanted to share them with everyone!
Rent levels can vary hugely between £200 and £350 per person per calendar month. It all depends on the quality and location of the property.
We have to bear in mind that many of the students we deal with may have never rented a property previously, so won't be familiar with the process. To coin the popular (and cheesy!) phrase, we've 'been there, done it and got the t-shirt' many times over, so we see it as our duty and responsibility to make the process as smooth and as simple as possible. We're the knowledgeable party in this situation, so should be in the position to answer any questions that may be thrown at us.
To be provided with an equal standard of service and treated on the same level as any other customer, and not to be seen differently because they're students. I think students value an honest, trustworthy and experienced agent that is able to draw on an in-depth knowledge of the area and offers good quality properties at fair prices. From what we've found out, students look for agents with industry-recognised memberships and accreditations. Because Lettings is an unregulated industry, anybody is able to start up a letting agency with no prior checks, so the number of one-man bands popping up in the area has risen rapidly in recent years. Students should always be encouraged to do their research before booking viewings.
The standard of student accommodation has risen significantly in recent years. Nowadays, you'll often be hard pressed to find a difference in the quality of a property being marketed to professionals and a property being marketed to students. Large, equal-sized bedrooms and modern kitchens/bathrooms remain as important as ever but should now be a given, so it tends to be the quality of the decor and standard of furniture provided that tips one house over another in a student's mind.
I think students would prefer one point of contact within the letting agency, rather than speaking to a different person every time they call. Things get lost in translation when dealing with a variety of people and momentum is lost. Also, when reporting maintenance issues, the agent will need to gain approval from the landlord before being able to send a contractor out to the property - unless it's an emergency. It's the landlord's funds that would be spent on an initial callout and any subsequent work needed, so it's only right that they have to give the go ahead in the first instance. This step perhaps doesn't get communicated well enough by the agent to the tenant and the tenant is often left wondering why there has been no progress on the problems they've reported.
We encourage our staff to build continued and ongoing relationships with tenants, meaning they can regularly deal with the same person. It's important that a good channel of communication is open between agent and tenant. Tenants should be made aware of the requirement to gain the landlord's approval for maintenance work and the endeavours the agent will be making to approach him about the items reported. The tenant should be kept informed of the current position from the initial report right through to completion of the work. If there's a delay for any reason, the agent should be keeping the tenant informed of why and provide an estimation of when and how the matter will progress.