Complaint Review: Freshstart Living, Empirical Property Group, PF Advisors Ltd,
Freshstart Living, Empirical Property Group, PF Advisors Ltd, Bradford University Urge Caution Over Colonnade House (‘The Fort’) Freshstart Living Salford Nationwide
*Consumer Comment: freshstart living, empirical property group, pf advisors ltd, fsl invest, fslinvest
*Consumer Comment: freshstart living, empirical property group, pf advisors ltd
The University of Bradford and UBU are warning students to exercise caution before
signing up to live in the former Colonnade House. Student accommodation development Colonnade House, which was plagued with problems since its launch last September, has been rebranded as ‘The Fort’. However, West Yorkshire Fire Authority has advised that there is still a prohibition notice preventing occupation of the property, which is now being widely advertised for 2013/14. The notice will remain in place until the Fire Authority is satisfied that all necessary fire safety works have been completed. Moreover, ANUK/Unipol has confirmed that the development is not covered by the National Code for Non Educational Establishments and that Fresh Start Living remain suspended
from the National Code’s membership process. No further decision on FSL’s application for membership of the Code will take place until the building has re-opened AND it is clear who will be managing it on a day-to-day basis. [continued below]....
the Fire Service prohibited use of the building. On top of this, residents reported a string of issues including; Inadequate or no heating in rooms Leaks in bathrooms Internet problems Faulty smoke detectors Broken lifts Faulty lighting Piles of rubble Inadequate fire evacuation information Promised facilities such as a gym, prayer space and communal area did not materialise Inadequate ventilation in kitchens
One washing machine in the whole development
When tenants raised complaints, they were not happy with the responses given by staff
and did not feel confident their problems would be resolved. Tenants were forced to leave the accommodation at very short notice and were initially told they had to find their own alternative accommodation. When they were allowed to return a few days later, they believed they were being allowed back permanently.
They were then given a few hours’ notice to move all of their belongings, for which no
assistance was provided and they could not use the lifts as they were broken. Confusion quickly set in amongst the tenants, some of whom had paid a full year’s rent
and yet were being told they had to pay for their own alternative accommodation. The University’s accommodation services team worked swiftly to ensure that all tenants were accommodated and would not have to pay two lots of rent. Since then, the confusion worsened, with tenants being led to believe they could move
back to the accommodation until the university was eventually informed in January that
the property was being closed down and that the tenants could not move back. Students were advised by Stephen Anderson, a solicitor from Hatch Legal, that he
believed there had been a fundamental breach of contract and that students could
terminate their contract and take up accommodation elsewhere. Despite the accommodation team’s best efforts, to this date some tenants have been left in the dark as to whether they will receive back rent owed to them, let alone
compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused. Throughout the process, the landlord – Fresh Start Living – has been almost impossible to communicate with, while the letting agent, RMG, has itself apparently been kept in the dark as to the situation. Students have, understandably, been left stressed out and anxious by this situation, with many feeling their studies have suffered as a result. One student told us: ‘Colonnade house was the first accommodation in the UK for me as
an international student. I experienced so many difficulties living there; showers and toilet not working properly, lift out of service most of the time and it made going to and coming from uni very difficult (walking up stairs to 7th floor). The most disheartening of all is the fire alarms were not working and I virtually could have got burnt any time. Moving impromptu from there cost me a lot, I had an exams the next day and virtually failed my exams.’ A fellow tenant agreed and said: ‘I cannot put into words how living at colonnade house disrupted my time at university. We were put up in a hotel for 4 days though some may think this would be a nice experience; it was greatly troubling and to not be around your books and a familiar area of comfort whilst completing essays was daunting. (The hotel we stayed in was not paid for and they soon started to ring the students who stayed there requesting £4500 for our stay).
We were told to get what we could carry from our rooms and at 7 o'clock at night walk
through Bradford's red light district with all our possessions as we made our way to the
Green. Needless to say many of us soon after became ill with exhaustion and had to hand
in extenuating circumstances as we just could not settle into our new environment and
work whilst ill. Just to write this email makes me furious with the situation.
We never revived a penny from whatever company ran the accommodating or an apology. Big thank you to the accommodation team at the Green and the University that was more than helpful in our time of need.” Another student said: ‘Although Internet had been advertised there was none; in fact
none of what was advertised was there. There were no fire safety systems and security
were useless with local prostitutes following us into the building to try and take money
from us. We were unlawfully evicted which for me was extremely stressful.’ The University, which provided temporary accommodation during the period of uncertainty, has yet to be paid by Fresh Start. The University and UBU Advice Centre advise all students to only rent with landlords who are accredited by Unipol/ANUK. If any students have questions about Colonnade House or the Fort, please contact Julie Hartley in accommodation services on firstname.lastname@example.org or the UBU Advice Centre at email@example.com UBU Advice Centre offers advice on a range of accommodation issues and problems as wellas a contract-checking service.
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