We are pleased to announce a brand new referral scheme offering free housing advice for students in conjunction with Unipol – the national voice for student housing. Unipol works in partnership with the universities and Nottingham City Council and runs the Unipol Code; a voluntary accreditation scheme that encourages accommodation providers to exceed minimum standards in student housing. The new referral scheme, which launches on 1st April 2015, will see students referred from Unipol to Hopkins, who will be able to provide legal advice on housing matters for university or college students living in private rented accommodation.
Students will have access to real legal advice from trained solicitors, who can answer questions, offer support and help resolve disputes as necessary. The service will run from 2pm – 5pm on Wednesday afternoons, and students will receive a thirty-minute window in which to communicate their problems and receive advice on how to handle the situation.
Carl Wright, Partner at Hopkins Solicitors, says, “We’re thrilled to have built this partnership with Unipol, and we’re proud to be offering local students an accessible legal advice service for all of their private housing issues. Many students living on their own for the first time need some assistance when it comes to disputes or legal matters, and we’re happy to provide a service that will help them.”
A recent report by the National Union of Students (NUS) found that over three quarters of students have problems when living in privately rented accommodation. This can be anything from mouldy kitchens to disputes over deposits. When making complaints or raising issues, many students feel their concerns are dismissed by landlords, who don’t take them seriously.
Figures released by Accommodation for Students also found that around one quarter of students had a ‘slightly negative’ or ‘very negative’ relationship with their landlord. 40% of those asked mentioned a lack of response on maintenance issues, while only 64% of respondents said that their deposit was being held in a tenancy deposit scheme, leaving the door open for further disputes down the line.
Carl adds, “Judging from these statistics, it’s crucial that students feel they have someone to talk to regarding matters that could eventually become legal disputes. From deposits being withheld to not being provided with Gas Safety Certificates for properties, there are a many ways in which students could find themselves at risk as a result of their private accommodation – and we’re pleased we can provide a knowledgeable, reliable point of contact for those who need advice.”
Students wishing to book an appointment with Hopkins or looking for general housing advice should contact Unipol directly. Their referral will be passed to the team at Hopkins, who will confirm appointments with students.
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