Students can rate their landlord one to five star rating and there is a landlord blacklist with the name of landlords with reported frequent problems
Popular Facebook group “Fallowfield Students Group” have launched a new group where members can find rooms and housemates and review landlords.
Titled “Fallowfield Student Accomodation (FSA)“, the group describes itself as the “go to group for all things accommodation related in Fallowfield and the surrounding areas.”
Members can give landlords a one to five star rating, to “encourage positive reviews to assist potential new tenants in their property search.”
The page also contains a “landlord blacklist” and states that “landlords that receive regular 1* reviews or complaints will be placed on the blacklist below to make other students aware.”
Speaking to The Mancunion, founder of the Fallowfield Students Group and creator of FSA, said: “Myself and the FSG team decided a new group for accommodation would be useful at this time of year after a post in the main group where lots of people complained about past landlords. Fallowfield Student Accommodation (FSA) will help students make informed decisions on their choice of landlord for their next academic year based on the past experience of other community members.
“There are a lot of rogue landlords around and we feel this group containing a ‘landlord watchlist’ in the ‘about’ section will help students avoid them. We hope it may also stop landlords from trying to take advantage of students in the fear they may end up on the list. We encourage students to leave positive reviews of their landlord in this new community so others looking for a house for the first time have some idea who is best to sign a tenancy with.”
Third-year University of Manchester Biology student, Ben Whittle, described the initiative as a “great idea” but commented that “it would be good to get the landlords in the group so that they can respond to any negative feedback.”
Matthew Freestone suggested he “liked” Ben’s idea but said: “the only problem is that if we allow landlords into the group, it will just turn into a huge advertising platform for their properties. Although that may be helpful in some ways, I want it to be primarily used by students.”
One of the landlords named on the ‘blacklist’ has responded to the creation of the group and said: “Matthew it has come to my attention that you and a friends of yours are whipping up false, inaccurate comments in relation to the management of student deposits by myself. Those involved will face legal action if found out to be posting such content as will yourself and anyone else involved in this.”
Students’ Union Communities Officer, Jack Houghton, described the group as a “brilliant resource for students who aren’t necessarily aware of other schemes” and said “I really, really love how interested and proactive some students are in taking measures to try and deal with issues.”
However, Jack added: “But what’s really important is that if there is a scheme already running similar to that, we can contribute and shape that current scheme with your ideas and make it really better.”
Manchester Student Homes, run by the University of Manchester in conjunction with other insitutions, have their own landlord accreditation scheme and the University of Manchester Students’ Union have a “rate my landlord” scheme.
Fallowfield Students Group has over 23,000 members and is widely used by students to buy and sell tickets, report on lost and found items and ask general questions about life in and around South Manchester.
On the 2nd of November, a University of Manchester student, James Westfall, proposed a similar idea in the group and said: “I suggest that we begin a landlord blacklist/watchlist. This would involve a facebook page where people can send details of any issues that they have with their landlords.”
The post received over 1,000 unique Facebook likes, suggesting it had struck a chord with many students.
When asked about this, Matthew Freestone said: “I was considering creating an accommodation separate group since June but I wasn’t sure it was necessary but then when I saw that post and other landlord posts it demonstrated it definitely was, especially at this time of year when people start viewings. The group is also for find a room/room-mate as well but the landlord side of things was definitely inspired by James’s post and other posts of people complaining about their landlord.”
Matthew told The Mancunion that he reached out to the student and “asked James to be a moderator but he declined.”
In response to this, James Westfall said: “I declined to moderate because I want to be independent from any particular agency so I can work equally with all of them” and joked that he was “busy enough as it is.”
However, he described the scheme as a “great idea that helps students to make decisions about where to live”, praising the scheme for being “easily accessible because it’s via Facebook.”
A recent investigation by The Mancunion suggested that students were also increasingly relying on the Fallowfield Students Group to find out anecdotal information about crime and student safety in and around South Manchester, with one student describing the “constant flow of horror stories on Fallowfield Students Group.”