A STUDENT has spoken about the stress of being told her new university accommodation in Swansea wouldn’t be ready for occupation, a few days before she was due to move in.
Final year law student Cati Turner said she applied for a flat share in the Coppergate complex on The Kingsway in April, but heard a rumour in July that it might not be finished in time for her to move in for the new term this month.
She claimed the scheme’s property managers Prime Student Living advised her it was on target when she contacted them, but received an email on September 4 saying there had been unforeseen delays and the September 14 occupation date couldn’t be met.
The email, seen by the Local Democracy Reporter Service, apologised and said alternative accommodation at the Oldway Centre – another purpose-built scheme opening this month on High Street – had been arranged.
The email offered students a £200 inconvenience payment, but also advised them their rent was now due.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Cati. “If they can’t keep their promise to finish the building on time, why should we pay our rent on time?”
The 20-year-old, from Caerphilly, said she has already paid a £250 deposit and £400 to cover three weeks’ rent.
She said she has terminated her contract, and has been told she would get her deposit back.
Cati is now booked into the St Davids development off New Cut Road.
“I suffer from chronic anxiety, and this whole process has been really stressful,” she said.
The mother of a first year student told a similar story, and has paid a £580 rent installment as well as the deposit.
The woman, who is from Swansea but asked not to be named, said she drove to the Oldway Centre to check out the alternative accommodation but was concerned to see scaffolding and contractors in hard hats.
“I then phoned Prime Student Living to voice my concerns, and spoke to a lovely gentleman,” she said.
“I asked him when Coppergate would be ready, and I was met with, ‘I have not got a date’. I just feel that I have been misled.”
The mum said she had sought legal advice and also spoke to Swansea University.
Her 19-year-old daughter has now had accommodation arranged through a separate company called Student Roost.
“They have been amazing,” she said.
“My daughter is excited about university, but what should be an exciting experience has now become stressful for her.”
The £22m Coppergate scheme comprises a 14-storey tower and two six-storey wings.
Its developer, Crosslane Student Developments, said last week that affected students would be given help to move into the Oldway Centre and again when they decamped to Coppergate when it was finally ready, although no date has been given.
In response to the issues raised by Cati and the mother, it said it couldn’t comment on specific cases.
A spokesman added: “Prime Student Living communicated with all students booked to live at Coppergate to advise them of the delay as soon as was possible having arranged temporary alternative quality accommodation elsewhere until Coppergate is complete.
“Following this initial communication we have handled hundreds of emails and phone calls with students and their parents to reassure them of the situation, what is happening and what it means for them.
“It is standard procedure to request a deposit and rent payment in advance of moving into the building in the same way it would be if you were renting a flat from a private landlord.”
The new-look Oldway Centre is opening on time on September 13, its manager Omnia Property Group has said, with 447 of 556 rooms ready for occupation.
Swansea University, meanwhile, said it was offering help and advice to all affected students.
A Student Roost spokesman said it had been helping many worried students.
Conservatives’ Lack of Action on Obscene Energy Profits “Indefensible” says Welsh Lib Dems
New Audit Office Report on Poverty in Wales supports Plaid Cymru’s calls
Successful Operation targeting anti-social driving across Newport and Monmouthshire