More positive landlord recommendations are being sought by the new Student Lettings Service, which opened its doors in December last year.

The service, which is affiliated to the University of Sussex Students’ Union, has now been up and running for more than a month and has a selection of properties available for rental.

Lettings manager David Beaken said:  “The aim of the service is quite simple: to offer students a good standard of well managed accommodation without them having to pay expensive agency fees.”

Students in both Brighton and Sussex University were given the opportunity to rate their landlords, past and present, in the annual “Rate your Landlord” survey with results due out this week.

The survey invited students to comment on the standard of their accommodation as well as their landlord’s communication and efficiency at resolving problems.

Now, the Student Lettings Service says it wants more students to speak up if they are hapy with their landlord.

Mr Beaken said that:  “In order to have a good supply of quality housing for students we need to speak to as many local landlords as possible.

“Students can help with this by passing their landlord’s details on to us.”

The Student Lettings Service ensures that all rentals are carefully monitored with properties meeting required quality standards.

Landlords must also refrain from charging students administrative fees if they decide to rent through them.
Fees can reach £150 in the private sector around Brighton and Hove.

Tenant welfare is at the heart of Sussex Student Lettings operations. They are considering a program to train students as advisers so they can accompany prospective student renters when they visit houses, and provide them with useful tips and advice.

The union’s assistant director of commercial and central services, John Houlihan,  said: “We have three aims as a social enterprise – to provide services for students, jobs for students and income for the students’ union.”

He has also expressed his relief at the success of the enterprise and his high hopes for its future.

“We only need 2-3 percent of the student market to have a profitable business and I am confident that we will get that over the next 18 months.”

The letting agency is one of many social enterprise based agencies emerging across the country.

Ken Livingstone, a London mayoral condidate, has responded to these innovations by promising that if he is successful he will instate a non-profit letting agency to cover all of London.

The Student Lettings Service can be found in Falmer House on campus.

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