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    (Disclaimer/Disclosure)
    I understand that these rules of room cleanliness etc are to make sure the rooms are in the best condition possible but I’m also aware that this issue with securing your deposit back is not an unfamiliar problem, it’s been going on for years.

    Sometimes we’re not careful, most of us do our best to look after our rooms, some instances it’s out of our control and some residents are just idiots. So these regulations and harsh procedures do have a benefit but puts us the students in a position where we are easily taken advantage of. Not cool. And also, sorry for the long message ahead!
    (End)

    Hi everyone, I felt it was important as a recently graduated student and ex resident of the Nottingham branch of Study Inn living in one of the studio flats, that I make my voice heard about my experiences regarding the refund/damage deposit, and encourage others to also come forward with your own.

    Now first of all, it’s not really a scam, more of a cheeky undemocratic system that tries every way possible to take every penny off your deposit for their own financial benefit without the concern or benefit of the doubt for the student. The saddest thing about this is that they can and are continuing to do so because of the way these licensing agreements work. This doesn’t just apply solely to Study Inn but to all forms of student accommodation.

    I understand that many places have “high” expectations in terms of how clean their rooms are as well as the need for all items provided by them to remain there so nothing is stolen. This makes sense as you would want everyone to look after their rooms as well as possible.

    The problem comes with how vague these expectations are as well as the way the agreements are written. This vagueness is what gives them the edge to charge you for practically anything that doesn’t meet their “standards”. By withholding this information and not making it explicitly clear to the resident/student, is what gives them an unfair advantage over us.


    So what’s my experience?

    Well for the most part, living there was alright.

    Pros:
    • - Security (perhaps too much?)
    • - Friendly staff
    • - Weekly housekeeping + Fresh bedding and towels
    • - Reasonable wifi speed/access
    • - At heart of the city
    • - Garbage collection (twice a week)
    • - Fair sized rooms (subjective)
    • - Washing and Drying facilities
    • - Gym
    • - Social areas/Meeting rooms
    • - Very few false fire alarms (unlike halls which seems to be a regular occurrence lol)


    Cons:
    • - Staff can enter whenever they want (wtf) they do knock first though
    • - Insanely strict on cleanliness
    • - Can be pricey!
    • - Radiator is on a timer, you’d have to switch it back on after about an hour or so (doesn’t get that hot either so wrap up warm!)
    • - Room overheats a bit during the summer
    • - Not allowed to put up privacy screens/curtains so good luck with privacy at ground and first floor
    • - Some rooms barely receive any sunlight
    • - Ensuite shower room/toilet a little tight but ok
    • - Weekly fire alarm tests (a bit annoying)
    • - If there is a real fire alarm then you’d have to stand out in the street, bit awkward.


    What did they charge me with?

    Right so there are several things, some more ridiculous than others but believe me I tried my very best in looking after my room, some incidents were out of my control.


    “Missing items”
    This was hilarious and the best example of their greed. So the rooms come with many items such as kitchen utensils/cutlery etc. Three items were specifically and blatantly missing from my room. When you arrive you’re meant to do your own inspection and inventory check list to make sure all is in order. So I did. I noticed a bunch of things that were missing because it’s not the same room type eg. Patio chairs…err I don’t have a patio/balcony area in my room lol. So that sort of stuff is fine.

    Anyway, I realised that the dish brush, washing up liquid dispenser and laundry bag were missing upon my arrival. Ok so I noted this down on the report. Now I’m certain that they would go through these to see if it’s all good but never heard a word about it even after 2 routine inspections. I also never needed them anyway since I’ve packed myself with my own, so never used the stuff they provided.

    So even though I’ve already told them it was missing since day one. After my checkout inspection, they still charged me for those missing items anyway. What the hell?! My question is; because these checkout inspection and charges happen every time a resident moves out. Does that mean they’ve charged the previous resident as well? And never bothered to replace those items in hopes that they can also pin it on me?! Cheeky *******s (excuse my language)


    Iron damage
    When I moved in, I was fairly certain that all the items provided should’ve already been checked and are in working order before I move in right? Well I looked at the iron and it all seemed good to go apart from a slight brown mark on the plate. Felt this was alright since it works and apart from the existing blemish I felt staff must’ve already seen this and that it was fine to leave it in my room.

    Now I’ve ever only used it once to iron a shirt and after two routine inspections, all seems fine, no one mentioned anything to me, awesome.

    Well that’s when they did the checkout inspection where I noticed I was charged for “iron damage”. What the heck? They don’t specify what they meant by damage either. Now I assure you there was no “damage”, or none that I’ve made anyway. Plus, the fact that this was already in my room and left in my room after two inspections, if it was so dreadfully “damaged” as they say, they why leave it in my room? What, with hopes that it’ll explode or something? Or with the hopes that it’ll break by the time I’ve already moved out? Christ almighty.

    Room clean/dirty:
    So here’s where I get back to the whole vagueness issue with their requirements of how you leave your room. They provided me with a list of things that were apparently dirty and some of them are just plain ridiculous.

    Apparently various items in my room didn’t “meet the normal standards of Study Inn”, wow talk about clarity. Each week your housekeeper will clean your room and always does a good job. But for some reason, even when they cleaned my room and the fact that I’ve given everything a clean as well just before I left, they still charged me for this.

    Way to eat up all my money guys, well done. Some of these apparently include the bathroom mirror and ceiling…excuse me? The mirror? The smoothest, shiniest, easiest to clean object in the room is apparently not meeting these “standards”? How clean do you want it to be? Also the ceiling, are you kidding me? How the hell did I reach the ceiling, I’m not Spiderman. The list goes on.

    Anyway I think you can see my point. The fact that they don’t specify what should be cleaned and how clean these things should be is what allows them to charge you whatever they want. Especially if you’ve already moved out like I did. I couldn’t stick around any longer so had to shoot off and their website didn’t let me book a check out inspection for the same day so not my fault in not being able to attend it. Make sure you’re there for every inspection! That way they can’t make up stuff while you’re gone.

    Bedroom door surface repair:
    This one baffles me. All I ever do is unlock/lock my door, turn the handle, open the door and let it shut. What I don’t do is run into the door with a battering ram and try and claw my way through it. Come on now, I’m not insane.

    They charged me for apparent deep scratches in the door. What?! They said it needed a French Polish to get rid of these so called deep scratches. They don’t specify where on the door were these found, if any for that matter. It’s difficult to believe there is any damage since the bottom section has a metal plate (I think I recall!) and most of the surface has a mirror. The door opens inwards so If I leave from room I’d pull the door open towards me. The outside face towards the corridor isn’t covered by any of these and I’m certain that the housekeeper almost always uses the vacuum cleaner or trolley of cleaning tools to push or hold my door open. This is probably what caused it cos I don’t kick my door open like a mad man. Sigh.

    Walls/Painting:
    Ok so this I can say was my fault but hear me out. The kitchenette has very limited amounts of splashbacks. Nothing is tiled and there is a large surface of painted wall by the sink. Not convenient. So when you cook, oil will inevitably spit out from time to time. Some of this ends up on unprotected parts of the kitchen. When you do the washing, sometimes you’d accidentally splash out some dirty water such as when you wash a mug, the depth and narrowness of the mug sometimes urge soapy water to splash out, even something like shaking your hands dry can leave water marks on the walls.

    They also use a very cheap paint that is heavily prone to staining. Which seems to work to their advantage. During the first inspection, there were a few marks here and there but incredibly sparsely located. So in other words, not a major issue. But no they decide to charge £60 to repaint the entire walls. Bloody hell calm down!

    This isn’t fair if the paint is so prone to staining. Moreover, they have the power to charge students for this up to three times across the year which is madness (£180)

    What they should do, and I advise you all to suggest this when they ask you to provide feedback/fill a survey, is to treat each room with a case by case basis; if a few marks are found during inspection 1 then depending on how severe it is, leave the paint job till the next inspection to see if more has built up. If by inspection 2 there is a significant amount of staining, then yeah paint it.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is that they should only request painting at the very end of the resident’s stay. This way the student is only charged once (save money) and they don’t need to keep asking the painter to come round and repaint the same bloody room.

    And yeah I know why they do this, it’s to keep a high standard at all times and while they’re at it, charge the student as much as they can.

    Other issues:
    On at least two occasions, they’ve entered my room without my consent whilst I was out. How do I know? Well when I leave for uni in the morning, it’s obviously day time so I’d have no need for the lights to be on. When I came back, my lights were on. Once I had a pair of shoes by the ensuite door and when I got back they were slightly nudged which was a sign that someone went in. Also once I got back and found the shower head on the floor, as in someone would’ve had to pull it upwards and out of the little piece that holds it.

    What I’m trying to get at is, that their licence agreement grants them permission to enter your room whenever they feel like it. What’s worse is that you’re not told about it either. Also the times I’ve noticed this were days where no one had a reason to enter. It wasn’t housekeeping day, inspection or any requested or planned maintenance. So yeah, why did they come in? Once I did ask and apparently it was to check if the hob or maybe the extractor fan was working. Bit random, no one ever said they would do random checks. Bit invasive if you ask me.

    As silly as this sounds, this loophole can give them the chance to sneak in and subtly take a plate or spoon etc then later they claim it’s missing, especially if you don’t even notice since I don’t use their stuff. Not saying they’ll do that but with this licence agreement they can.

    Whenever they email you about upcoming painting/decorating, they don’t tell you which rooms are on this list. They just assume every room needs it and for everyone to be on their toes the upcoming week from 9 to 5 of an invited guest. If they’ve asked a someone to come round to do stuff to your room, then there must be a list of rooms somewhere. This is important since there might be something subtle about your room that they’ve noticed but haven’t told you, then when that decorator comes round knocking on your door at 9 in the morning followed by a whopping £60 charge, you’d be surprised.

    So what am I trying to say? What’s my advice?
    Well if you’re thinking of moving into some form of student accommodation (not necessarily Study Inn)

    • Make damn sure to document every inch of you room through photos (especially with a date and time stamp on them) when you first arrive and just before each routine inspection.
    • No matter how insignificant you think the potential damage may be, be it a slight mark on a wall or layer of dust on a shelf, document it and report it. That way you’ve already told them about the condition of something before they can say anything.
    • Ask them to come over and examine the room with you to make sure you have a witness and that they can confirm you’ve spoken to someone about it.
    • If you notice something is missing, note it down and report it. Eg. Take a photo of your kitchen utensils, open all cupboards etc, and make sure they know if everything is there or not. Remember also do this before each inspection.
    • Better, ask them what they’re expectations are (how clean something should be or what should you clean before each inspection) And yes even ask if the ceilings and the undersides of a desk need cleaning, stupid I know but worth it if you want to avoid any deductions.

    So yeah sorry about the long message guys and girls, I just felt it was important enough for me to at least warn other students about these kind of shady things that happen when they want to take your money. I really hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else, but the only way we can start to change the way they run their businesses is to have a voice and have a say to let them know we’re not happy.

    All the great changes made in our history didn’t happen overnight, it’s people speaking out and working towards a common goal that we can achieve this.

    I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with securing your deposits, not necessarily from Study Inn but any form of student accommodation. I’m sure a lot of you have successfully done so, I got most of mine back in the past, guess I was unlucky this time around. But I’m sure others have had similar issues.

    Also as sad and true as these issues may be, I hope you found some of this humorous to read.

    Anyway, feel free to have your say!
 
 
 
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