The Student Housing Company: Fraud, Theft, Sex and Scandal

The Student Housing Company: Fraud, Theft, Sex and Scandal

The Student Housing Company

The Student Housing Company (TSHC) was launched in 2011 and manages ‘purpose-built student accommadation in the United Kingdom‘. Today, the company runs 25 ‘student’ residences, situated across 17 locations in the UK, while an additional 31 accommodations can be found internationally and are spread over 6 countries, including: Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.

TSHC has been accredited with several national awards including: Best Private Halls Provider and Best Customer Service within the National Student Housing Survey, Student Accommodation Operator of the Year and Innovation of the Year for our Wellbeing programme by Property Week, as well as The Best in Class Operator of the Year by The Class of 2020.

TSHC residences are often viewed by students as a safe and secure alternative to standard forms of private accommodation and are often acknowledged by universities and organisations such as The Accreditation Network UK. TSHC has consistently promoted itself as a company which takes student wellbeing seriously and seeks to offer accommodation that considers the needs of this demographic.

We’re on a mission to provide a student living experience in which every resident belongs to a community that facilitates their ability to thrive.

The Student Housing Company

The Investigation

The investigation that you are about to read was conducted over a period of three-months (August-October). We would interview over a dozen students and staff members, living and working at properties run by The Student Housing Company in the UK. These individuals would come from a variety of locations including: Depot Point (London), Austen House (Southampton), Goldsmith Court (Nottingham), Beckley Point (Plymouth) and Clifford House (Exeter). Each person that we talked to would have a more disturbing story than the last, from the theft of their property by staff members (Case 1), incidents of sexual assault (Case 2), recieving a lack of effective support during lockdown and the covid pandemic (Case 3), to witnessing fraud, managerial misconduct and bullying within the workplace (Case 4).

Yet, while each of these distinct cases demonstrate a variety of ordeals, they all ultimately tell the same story – The Student Housing Company doesn’t really care about the safety, security or mental wellbeing of its residents and staff. This has remained consistent amongst each person that I have talked to, with each accomadation and managerial team ostensibly exhibiting a lack of professionalism, in which they have gone to great lengths to avoid communication, transparency, and the effort required to allow its workers and residents the quality of living that they legally and ethically deserve.

All of the individuals that you will hear about within this report have been given an alias to protect their real identity. This has extended to all the documents that are presented, in which certain sections have been redacted in order to protect the anonymity of our sources.

While our investigation of The Student Housing Company has now been published, it is still ongoing. We are currently talking to numerous staff and students about their experiences and will continue to do so until we feel that these individuals have had their proper say on this matter. If you would like to get in touch with us to talk about your experience at a TSHC accommodation, then you can contact us at:

Case 1: Theft of Student Property by Staff Members

This section will outline the following events and circumstances:

  • At least seven cases of theft at Depot Point, London, carried out by a staff member.
  • Another instance of theft, potentially by a staff member, at Goldsmith Court, Nottingham.
  • Ineffective support by TSHC to provide victims with the appropriate information or tools to claim compensation.
  • Multiple cases of unauthorised visits into student rooms, often exceeding the number of items stolen.
  • A lack of communication on the part of staff to provide students with updates on their cases.

On the 15th of March Anna decided to leave her residence in Depot Point, London, over fears of increasing coronavirus cases and lockdown to receive respite at her partners home in the New Forest. She would leave most of her possessions in her one-bedroom studio for the next four months, during which she was unable to return due to lockdown restrictions. At Depot Point’s request, she would inform them that she had left her room and would not be returning until the current situation had calmed down.

On the 11th July Anna would return to collect her possessions and finally move out, despite her tenancy agreement continuing into early September. After unpacking, she would discover that her camera (Canon EOS M100), camera bag, SD card, and quite surprisingly a high-quality Finnish block of cheese were all missing. These items were worth approximately £400.

Two days later, she would email the reception at Depot Point to inform them of her missing property and provide information on when she had left, arrived, and the days she had given permission for anyone to enter her room while she was away. Within this email Anna would also request to view her door log data.

Within Depot Point’s Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, it states that:

The Tenant will permit the Landlord and anyone authorised by the Landlord to enter the Flat (including the Room) for the purposes set out in clauses 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 and 8.4 provided that, in the circumstances set out in clauses 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3 reasonable prior notice (being not less than 24 hours), will be given to the Tenant and such access is conducted at reasonable hours in the day time

The Student Housing Company (TSHC), Depot Point, Tennent Contract.

Upon Depot Point staff inspecting the door log data of her room, they would discover that there had been eight unauthorised visits to Anna’s room (see below). Furthermore, after Anna checked this document for herself, she would find an additional eleven visits, some of which occurred at unreasonable hours, while others Anna has no recollection of authorising despite staff at Depot Point suggesting otherwise. 

Locklink Transfer Lock Events, Provided and Highlighted by the Management of Depot Point. These were given to Anna upon her request. The black mark has been made by Mouthing Off Magazine to protect the identity of a staff member who potentially entered into Anna’s room without the permission of Depot Point’s managment or Anna herself.

The manager of the residency would inform Anna that the staff member in question was ‘no longer an employee‘, stating that:

This is a segement of an email sent to Anna by the management of Depot Point on the 13th July 2020.

Anna would contact the Metropolitan Police (Camden & Islington Borough) with the reference number provided by Depot Point to file a report and have an over-the-phone interview with a Detective Constable.

After hearing from the Metropolitan Police that more victims had come to light, Anna would attempt to find those within her accommodation that had also gone through the same experience. From this investigation she would discover that at least six other individuals had found that their possessions were missing after lockdown had ended.  

One person from this group, Lisa, would leave her accommodation in March to return to her home in China. While away she would receive an email notifying her that a package had been left for her at the reception of Depot Point. Wishing to have her items stored safely in her room, she would send an email requesting that the package was moved.

After returning to her student accommodation in mid-July, she would discover that a brand-new pair of shoes and a handbag were missing; this would total to a loss of approximatly £200.

Upon contacting the staff at Depot Point and receiving her door log data, Lisa would find that there had been six unreasonable entries, occurring across six different dates, that ranged from March to June of this year.

While Lisa would also file a report, she, unlike many of the other victims of Depot Point, would not be taken into consideration by the Metropolitan Police Force (Camden & Islington Borough). Within a few hours of reporting her case to the police, the investigation was closed. Despite presenting the same form of evidence (door log data), the officer in charge of the investigation did not believe this to be enough evidence to start a full investigation.

Consequently, Lisa would attempt to ask for help, advice, and information from Depot Point regarding her stolen property. She has yet to receive an email in response to this issue.

While Lisa was unable to find a solution, Anna would not give up in her attempt to discover the culprit behind these incidents and find a way to receive compensation for her stolen property.

From the group chat I discovered the identity of the burglar. I knew him as he had visited my room on multiple occasions to conduct maintenance work. We had conversations, many of which were deeply personal, and I thought that we were quite friendly with each other. After discussing this matter with some of my buddies, one would mention a shared moment he had with this man. During this conversation, the man would admit to having a previous criminal record related to drugs. I’m all about second chances but putting a person like this in such a role, with access to the rooms of students, seems inappropriate.

A statement made by Anna

After reaching out to Depot Point on several occasions, Anna would be told that she was ineligible to claim the cost of her possessions on her accommodations insurance policy, despite this being in direct contradiction to what TSHC advertises or states within their Endsleigh ‘Gadget & possessions quote’. To view the full document of what Endsleigh’s insurance policy covers you can download the full document below.

I have contacted Endsleigh Insurance directly in the first instance and as advised previously the insurance does not extend to items claimed missing/stolen in the circumstance that access has been made with a valid key card and not a physical break in... I apologise and empathise that this may not be the immediate response that you wanted. However, the company are obliged to wait for an outcome from the ongoing police investigation before we can review any request for recompense of goods. Once we have this senior management will be able to review and respond to your request which has already been escalted to them.

Stated within an email to Anna from the management of Depot Point on the 13th August 2020.
The Student Housing Company, Contents Insurance Page:

Confused by this response, Anna would contact Endsleigh Insurance directly to place a request for compensation. On the 8th of September, Anna would receive an email from Endsleigh confirming that her request had been fulfilled and that she would receive a cheque for £383.98. Eight days later, Depot Point would inform the victims of theft that they would be able to make a claim for their possessions under their insurance policy.

When I got an email from Endsleigh stating that I would be fully refunded for the stolen property, I felt betrayed by Depot Point and the staff that I had gotten to know over the last year. Before I returned my key, I spent hours creating a hand-drawn card for the staff, thanking them for my experience and stay. I never expected anything like this to happen at an accommodation that prides themselves on safety and security. I have had four items stolen, yet there have been eight visits to my room. It is extremely concerning that a previously convicted criminal, has had open access to the rooms of young women. I will never know, what this person did in my room. The whole situation has been handled so badly, with ignored emails, bad communication, and lies. As someone who suffers from anxiety this has had a big impact on my mental health. Despite receiving my money, this has left a bad taste in my mouth – I have yet to receive an apology for what has happened.

A statement made by Anna

Anna’s payment from Endsleigh Property Claims.

An email sent to Anna & other students residing at TSHC, Depot Point, eight days after her claim was confirmed.

However, students from Depot Point where not the only people to have their property stolen during the coronavirus lockdown.

Debbie, from Goldsmith Court, Nottingham, would leave her accommodation on the 25th of March. Upon leaving, staff would ask students to leave as many possessions behind as possible so that any unnecessary contact between staff, students and parents could be mitigated. Students were told that their items could be picked up at a later date.

In mid-May, Debbie would return to her accommodation to collect the bulk of her possessions, leaving anything that couldn’t fit within her father’s car to be picked up at a subsequent date. By early June, she would come back to Goldsmith Court only to find that her mirror (worth £180) had been stolen, despite both her flat and room door being locked.

However, at this juncture Debbie felt that it might have been possible to find the culprit(s) responsible for this theft, for the mirror in question was extremely large and would have required two men to carry it from her room. Since a CCTV camera had been placed directly outside her flat, with another positioned along the open terrace, it would have been impossible to avoid being recorded. Although, upon requesting the footage from these cameras she would be informed by the manager that, ‘the CCTV was broken and that it only ran on a 30-day cycle.

After returning home Debbie would email the staff at Goldsmith Court to receive further support and gain access to her door log data, which the facility refused to hand over. With each subsequent response being received at a later date than the last, she would have to resort to informing them that her father was a lawyer to get any form of answer to her questions.

They know they can get away with it because we’re students. We are in a place where we are vulnerable. Imagine how many things have been taken over the years without people realising.

A statement made by Debbie

Debbie has still not received any form of compensation for her stolen property and is still waiting on TSHC to give a proper response to her dilemma.

A Statement From The Student Housing Company In Regards To The Theft Of Student Property At Depot Point

We would reach out to The Student Housing Company & The Depot Point branch to ask them to give comment on the transpiring events outlined above. They would state the following in an email sent to Mouthing Off Magazine:

Following reported incidents at the residence, we swiftly launched an investigation into events. Whilst the police investigation is continuing, we are unable to confirm any specific details. However, we can advise that we have since taken appropriate action to protect our community.

We have communicated with all students who were impacted and we continue to provide support for those who require assistance claiming under the insurance policy we have in place for all of our residents at Depot Point.

We have also informed those students that we will cover the excess amount for any successful claim and advised that our team is on hand to help and support where required.

The Student Housing Company, Head of Operations

Case 2: The Sexual Assault of A Student by A Staff Member

This section will outline the following events and circumstances:

  • Emma, a student living in Austen House, would be sexually assaulted by a member of staff on the 20th April 2020.
  • Since this inccident she has developed nervous ticks, which she believes have occured as a direct result of this experience.
  • Emma would make contact with both the police and the management of Austen House about this incident.
  • The police would carry out an investigation and the staff member in question will be taken to court in January.
  • However, Emma would find that both the level of communication with and support from the management of Austen House to be lacking.

On the 19th of April, Emma (Austen House) would be visited by a maintenance worker who had come to fix her sink. Unable to fully repair it that day, he would inform her that he would have to make a second trip to complete the job.

Upon his return the following day, he would begin to ask Emma some strange questions: ‘Why do you live alone in this studio?’, ‘do you have a boyfriend?’, ‘have you got any sex toys?’. While finding this conversation to be rather odd, Emma would play along and laugh it off.

After some time had passed, she would notice that the maintenance worker was struggling and would offer to hold the tap for him while he screwed it in. Upon the man reaching for another screwdriver he would grab Emma’s breast. As no comment was made during or directly after this occurrence, Emma would assume that it was her mistake for leaning over the sink too closely.

However, this assumption would quickly dissipate after the man would go back to grab her breast for a second time. Emma would move away from the sink and out of his reach, upon which he would proceed to tell her about his ‘wife, how they had broken up and that he didn’t get a lot’ and that it ‘was his birthday, which was getting him very flustered.’ When Emma asked the man why he and his wife had separated, he would respond by saying that ‘he got bored and was into younger women.’

It was quite an awkward situation; I didn’t know what to say. I asked him how long it would take, and he said it would be a while. He asked me to have another look at the pipes in the cupboard, under the sink, which I said no to as I wouldn’t know what I would be looking for. However, he was adamant that I looked so I did. He would then put his hand on my back, rolled it down to my bottom and then grabbed my ass and said I had a banging body.”

A statement made by Emma

Emma would jump out of the cupboard, giving the maintenance worker a dirty look. He would then proceed to ask her to give him a kiss, however, despite Emma refusing to do so he would persist in asking her, exclaiming that her boyfriend wouldn’t find out.

I understand that people make mistakes, but he carried on and he clearly knew that he was making me uncomfortable.’

A statement made by Emma

Emma would retreat to her bed, after chastising him for what had just transpired. At this point he would begin to apologise, becoming flustered and noticeably upset. He would prepare to leave, packing up his tools and the rest of his things together. However, just as he was about to depart, a set of attachments for his tools dropped all over her floor.

I started to pick up the attachments, wanting him to leave as soon as possible, when he grabbed my hand and tried looking directly into my eyes. I gave them back [attachments] at which point he would say, ‘oh, I’ll be going then.’ He had his hands out, indicating that he wanted a hug. Wanting him to leave, I gave him one, at which point he went in for a kiss. Thankfully, I managed to pull away in time so that he just kissed my hair. He would then start to leave after his final remark that, ‘I should break more things as I could see him again.’”

A statement made by Emma

After the incident, Emma would call her boyfriend to discuss what had just happened, at which point they would decide that they should file a police report. They too would contact the manager of Austen House, Claire Hutt, who would tell Emma that ‘she sounded O.K to her as she was not bawling her eyes out.’

Emma would request that her boyfriend stayed in her room until she felt more comfortable being on her own. Since her encounter with the maintenance worker she would sleep with the light on, a rug next to the door (so that she could hear if anyone entered her room), and felt uneasy without company, even when venturing outside of her accommodation. Consequently, her boyfriend would be allowed to live with her, despite the policies put in place during lockdown.

Emma’s boyfriend’s email to the manager of Austen House
Manager’s response to Emma’s boyfriend’s email

Emma would ask the managing member of staff if she could be informed when a maintenance worker would come to her room moving forward. Claire would respond that this wouldn’t be a problem and that staff with this role would no longer be able to come up to her room unless they were in pairs and had her permission to do so. Emma would state that she didn’t mind maintenance men in her room, so long as it was not the man in question, at which point Claire would state that this wouldn’t be possible as, ‘I’ve got to protect my staff.’

She didn’t give a shit about me. The guy didn’t get any time off, she didn’t talk to me about his schedule and even after lockdown had stopped, when there weren’t any restrictions related to people moving in, she still wouldn’t allow us to move in together.”

A statement made by Emma
Screenshot of an email sent to Emma by the manager of Austen House.

After Emma found out that they were giving residents of Austen House the option to receive a discount off their last instalment she would contact Claire Hutt to ask whether her boyfriend could permanently move in with her. However, Claire would state that this couldn’t happen as households were not allowed to mix because of covid. Despite Emma arguing that Claire had already allowed for their households to mix, she would maintain that this was an impossibility.

I think that she originally agreed to it because it was the easiest thing to do, but now that she actually had to do something then she didn’t want to do it.”

A statement made by Emma

Her correspondence with the manager of Austen House would, according to Emma, become increasingly difficult as time went on.

She was really rude to me, both on the phone, email and in person. She would say that ‘if you want a discussion with me, you’ll have to book it in advance’, she wasn’t free to talk with me. She would give me an hour slot once a week… I gave up in the end. She gave me an incredibly limited amount of time to work with considering that I was still at university and needed to work.”

A statement made by Emma

Emma would even experience issues when providing an initial statement to the management of Austen House about her sexual assault. After receiving a write-up of the conversation that she had had over the phone (see below), Emma would discover that there were numerous mistakes and statements next to her name that were completely disparate to what she had said.

She lied on it, saying that I was fine, that I wanted to see him again.”

A statement made by Emma

Instead of approving this document by signing it, Emma would make amendments, clarifying what she had stated over the phone. She would send this version back to the management of Austen House as her official statement (see below).

The original type-up of Emma’s statement about her sexual assault to the manager of Austen House.

The ammended version (edited by Emma) of her statement about her sexual assault to the manager of Austen House

Since these disputes and her sexual assault, Emma has sadly developed a nervous tick, which she believes has potentially been caused by the trauma that she has experienced. Furthermore, she has not received any communication from the management of Austen House about her case for the last month. Over the last couple of weeks, Emma has noticed that the perpetrator has seemingly disappeared from the residence. Whether this is due to him being suspended, fired, or that he has just gone away on holiday, remains unclear as she has not been informed by staff on this matter. The suspect will be taken to the magistrate’s court in Southampton this January, whereupon Emma will wait to see if a conviction can will be made.  

After the sexual assault I have developed ticks. They don’t know what it is yet, my doctor said it could be related to the trauma. It started off with my hands, then my head would twitch. Now, it has developed to me swearing at random intervals or my legs will sometimes go, and I can’t walk. When I cook, I end up throwing the food around or headbutting the hob. The doctor said that it might not be correlated, but I feel that it is unlikely to be coincidental as it only started after this incident.”

A statement made by Emma

Case 3: No Stay, No Pay: TSHC Sues Students For Not Paying Their Rent

  • Within this section the accounts of two students will be examined; both of whom would find themselves facing legal action by TSHC.
  • Both Max and Nadene would have contentions with TSHC’s Student Support Program, which was initiated in March (and expired in May) to help students with their rent.
  • Max would neither accept nor reject the TSHC’s offer of a 50% discount as he believed that his contract had been frustrated.
  • Despite being emailed on numerous occasions to pay off his remaining rent, Max would refuse to do so as the company in question has been shown to be in liquidation by Companies House.
  • Nadene too would face a similar situation. After not being able to access her email, she would receive a letter written by a solicitor of TSHC stating that she needed to make her rent payments, or otherwise she would be taken to court.
  • Both of these students are still waiting to find out if they will be taken to court or if they will be able to make a deal with TSHC.

Max is a student from Southampton Solent University who resided at Austen House prior to the UK’s lockdown on the 16th March 2020. Preceding this event he was advised by his university to return to his term address, after they had suspended teaching for the reminder of the academic year in anticipation of the coming lockdown and over fears of student’s health being put at risk. Consequently, Max decided to pack his possessions and leave the premises with the aim of returning to his student accommodation when he was advised by the proper authorities to do so.

However, when it came for him to leave he was told by members of staff that he would need to sign a legal document that would make it ineligible for him to leave his tenancy if he was unable to return at a later date. Max would refuse to sign this waiver and left the premises. After him and his father packed his things in their car, they would hear on the radio that lockdown had begun.

Upon returning home, Max would seek the support of his Father-in-Law (a lawyer) in order to ask for a release from his contract, which he deemed to be frustrated due to lockdown as it would be impossible for him to return to his accommodation.

Pinsent Masons defines frustration as:

An unforeseen event occurs after a contract is entered into which is outside the control of the parties, and makes the contract either: physically or commercially impossible or illegal to perform; or transforms performance of the contract into something so radically different from the intended purpose that it would be unfair to hold the parties to their obligations.

Pinset Masons, Defintion of ‘Frustration’

Max would comment that, ‘it’s the same as if you went on holiday and then they [Austen House] shut the doors when you came to return, lockdown made it impossible for me to get back.’ Consequently, on the 23rd of March he would write an email to the Student Housing Company to request a release from his contract (see below).

An email sent by Max to The Student Housing Company on the 23rd of March 2020.

Many other students from around the country, who were in a similar situation to Max, would attempt to have their tenancy agreement revoked so that they could receive full compensation for their final term. This led to the creation of the Facebook group No Stay, No Pay, in which a collection of students would congregate to discuss their personal situations and rally together to put pressure upon TSHC accommodations to provide a monetary solution for those who could no longer access their room or facilities.

Following this Austen House, alongside many other Student House Company accommodations (including: Bentley House (Birmingham) Beckley Point (Plymouth), Knoll Court (Newcastle), Ablett House (Liverpool), Belaton House & Bailey Point (Bournemouth), etc.), would present a mixed bag of offers from 50% off for non-returning students all the way up to 100% off for returning students on their final instalment. Albeit these deals would not transpire for all of those who had tenancy agreements with TSHC. Therese House (London) would only provide students with £1,000 in support, while accommodations such as Depot Point (London) would seemingly attempt to hide potential forms of reimbursement according to some students.

Despite my contract ending in September, I was unable to live in my studio since March 15th. The total rent of a central London Depot Point Studio from this period amounts to about £8000. I contacted Depot Point about potentially claiming some of this money back, especially considering my situation and the unlawful visits to my room that breached the lawfully binding contract both I and Depot Point signed. Their initial suggestion was to find a replacement tenant for the remainder of my contract period. Not only would this have been almost impossible to achieve during a worldwide pandemic, but more importantly, I did not feel that this would have been right ethically, considering my experience. To place another vulnerable student in accommodation that had so acutely disregarded the safety and security of its tenants felt wrong. After my protests, they informed me about their student help portal through which I could have received a reduction of rent. However, the portal was already closed in May. I never received any email about this portal. If I had, I would have of course applied. The sum of money that I’ve lost really depresses me.”

A statement made by Anna

Austen House would subsequently offer a prize draw for all students who paid their full rent, to have the chance to go to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 (which was cancelled), tickets to events, and accommodation (which would be within one of their halls). Max commented that ‘this was a joke and an insult – Catherine House [Portsmouth] got released from their contracts, so why shouldn’t we?

A screenshot of a students post in the ‘No Stay, No Pay’ Facebook Group.

Some people may argue that it was your choice to leave your accommodation, while you were advised by your university to leave, should it be the responsibility of the Student Housing Company for this decision?

Well as far as I was concerned, there wasn’t a decision to make. I had to leave. You see I have aspergers and depression. Consequently, I have a support dog living with me in my room. This is located on the top floor of Austen House, which is the quietest area of the building. Being locked in my small room, without having access to the communal facilities or the garden would have been bad enough for him, let alone me.”

Why didn’t you take the fifty-percent discount that Austen House was offering you, as many others have?

When I neither accepted nor rejected the offer, they would email me on a couple of occasions trying to get me to pay into a bank account that was in liquidation. You never pay into a liquidating company and for them to ask me to do so could be unlawful. The only people that can chase money, under these circumstances, would be the liquidators. I was therefore advised to not pay when requested to do so.”

An email sent to Max from The Student Housing Company, requesting payment for his overdue rent. This was sent on the 6th of July 2020.

A print screen of The Student Housing Company (Southampton) Limited status in Companies House. As this image illustrates the ‘Company status‘ is ‘Dissolved‘.

After ignoring these requests to ‘pay up’, Max would receive an email from a solicitor purporting to represent the Student Housing Company (Southampton) Limited, in which the full cost of his final instalment was stated along with an additional charge of £50. Following this, Max would begin his journey to fight his legal battle with Austen House and TSHC.

It doesn’t look like we’re going to get out of this without some kind of deal. We offered 30% without prejudice, so they cannot chance for the remainder. However, they rejected this, stating that any offer is off the table and I must pay within 7 days. Their responses had numerous spelling mistakes and was obviously written by the Student Housing Company – they are famous for this.

A statement made by Max

Today, Max has still not paid his rent and continues to wait to hear whether he can either make a deal with TSHC or appear in court to fight his case.

However, Max was not the only student to face legal action by TSHC as Nadene (Austen House) would too suffer the same unpleasant experience. After a few weeks of being locked down in her room with no way of experiencing the outside world, she would return home to stay with her mother to receive some respite.

You see I have a disease with my eyes, that makes it hard for me to see. I still had to do my essays, dissertations, etc. that really required me to see as best as I possibly could… A few weeks in I thought I need to go back home. My mum can help me with my work, it’s a bigger space… She has a three-bedroom house with a garden. You’re constantly in this room and it’s a lot. I felt that my mental health was suffering because of it.

A statement made by Nadene

After moving out Nadene was told that she would still be entitled to the 50% discount as she was a non-returning student. However, after being advised by various staff members to hold off paying her rent, ‘as a better deal would likely be just around the corner’, she would put her rent money to one side and wait until the situation developed.

A few months later she would receive a letter from a solicitor demanding a payment of £2014. This came as a great shock to Nadene, as she was unaware of any contact prior to this letter and due to her rent only being £1484 (or £742 if the discount was to be applied). Instead, the letter would outline that Nadene would owe the THSC £1,800 in rent and an additional £214 for both interest and solicitors fees.

Nadene, confused and upset by this dramatic turn of events in which she could potentially face a county court judgement, managed to finally log back into her email, after months of being unable to do so due to a change of phone. She would discover three different emails that stated ‘if you don’t pay the money in 5 days, they [THSC, Southampton] would go to the solicitorsthese were all a couple of weeks apart.

While contact had indeed been made, Nadene still remained perplexed that they had not tried to contact her by another method.

They have my mobile number, my mum’s number, and they know me personally. I’ve been staying there for three years. The lady emailing me knows me. I pay off my rent early, I hate owing people money. They know what I’m like. It’s very unusual for me to not reply.

A statement made by Nadene

Nadene, like Max, would attempt to email them back to negotiate a deal, however, she too would be faced with the same stoic response.

I said look, I haven’t been on my emails, I’ve just noticed them, and now you’re trying to take me to court over it and you’re expecting a lot more money than what was originally owed. If this is the case, is there not a payment plan that we can agree to? However, she [manager] said that because I didn’t get back to them in time that it is now with the legal team.”

A statement made by Nadene

Two months after speaking to Nadene we would catch up with her to see how her case was going. Unfortunately, she remains in limbo and is waiting to hear back from the TSHC on how she can proceed with settling her debts.

A Statement From The Student Housing Company In Regards To Supporting Students During The Covid Pandemic

We reached out to The Student Housing Company and The Austen House branch to ask them to give comment on the transpiring events outlined above. They stated the following in an email sent to Mouthing Off Magazine:

In response to the global pandemic, we established a Student Support Programme in March 2020 to provide immediate support for our residents on an individual basis.

During this time, we listened to feedback from both students and parents on the concerns and challenges they were facing. In response and to provide additional support to ease the financial burden for our students, we revised our offers through our Student Support Programme in April 2020.

We wrote to our students explaining the revised offers and we apologised for any frustration and stress our students may have experienced during that period.

The revised support packages included discounts based on personal circumstances. For those who chose to return home these included a 50% discount (from 1st April to the end of their tenancy contract) and a 100% discount if they rebooked for the 2020/2021 academic year. 

For students who continued to live with us we offered a payment holiday and a 50% discount (from 1 April to the end of their tenancy contract) if they rebooked for the following year.

All offers of support were based on all arrears being cleared for 2019/2020 and our students were given four weeks to confirm their preferred option.

The Student Housing Company, Head of Operations

Case 4: Staff Member Bullied & Subsequently Fired For Not Being Able to Fulfill His Duties, Despite Suffering From Chronic Illnesses

  • Zach is a former Night Shift Guard at both Beckley Point, Plymouth, and Clifford House, Exeter.
  • He would be leave Clifford House after having his manager threaten to fire him for not being able to fulfill all of his duties, in spite of communicating with his manager that he was unable to do so due to suffering from chronic pain syndrome.
  • Since his treatment at both Beckley Point and Clifford House, Zach has been diagnosed with depression, which he is currently taking medication for.
  • Zach would not only discuss with us about his own experience with TSHC but instances of fraud and misconduct by the staff in these facilities.

Zach is a former Night Shift Guard who worked for Beckley Point, Plymouth and Clifford House, Exeter. Over the last three years of working for TSHC, Zach would not only become aware of the suspicious, malicious and inappropriate actions of staff but would find that his mental and physical health suffered due to the pressure placed upon him by the management of these facilities. He would leave Clifford House due to months of bullying and intimidation tactics by the managementof this facility, in which the pressure of feeling that his job was being hung over his head became too much.

While working at Beckley Point, Plymouth, Zach would discover that certain staff were ‘mistakenly’ being overpaid. Despite the management of this facility being aware of this matter, this issue would be swept under the rug so that certain staff members could receive an undeserved dividend. Zach would inform us about two such cases. One staff member would receive payment for an additional 10-20 hours of work each month, while another was overpaid £4,000 just before lockdown occurred. According to Zach, both incidents would be openly discussed in the staff room and laughed about, with the management saying, ‘I’m sure you’ll cover the cost by doing overtime.’ However, Zach contends that these staff members would never work the additional time required to receive this increased level of income.

Many of the staff/management were good friends, they were very buddy-buddy and open about it all, if you know what I mean. They showed a great deal of arrogance about the whole situation and knew that they were safe from any repercussions because they had gotten their positions due to them all being friends prior to working there.”

A statement made by Zach

However, this was not the only issue that Zach would witness at Beckley Point. As a Night Shift Guard, he would become aware that one of his co-workers would allow students in the employee areas (where sensitive information was held) to take pictures of CCTV footage from cameras located in the lift. This would often be on occasions where young girls were either about to head to, or come back from, one of the local clubs.

He was taking and keeping photos of their breasts from the high angle on his personal phone as well as sharing them with students in a group chat.

A statement made by Zach

Furthermore, this staff member would abuse his access to the master-key to allow his friends and acquaintances to have sex in unused bedrooms and even rooms rented by students while they were away. While these issues would be ‘resolved’ by management as they would ask the employee to leave, the incident would not be made an official matter, reported, or recorded, in order to prevent it from becoming public information.

Additionally, Zach would inform us that Beckley Point would often hire people that were either not suitable or qualified for their role. One of TSHC’s five key promises is that they ‘actively seek student involvement’ in their company by offering ‘placements’ for students so that the TSHC experience is ‘shaped by actual students’.  However, at Beckley Point, they would not only provide standard placements but instead allow certain residents to have more senior roles and responsibilities. One girl, who Zach claims suffered from mental health issues and could often be seen intoxicated, would be left in charge of the reception until the early hours of the morning – acting as the only security staff member on the premises.

She herself spent hours talking to me about her condition and how she was placed on a suicide watch. All of the staff, particularly the night staff, were told to keep a close eye on her wellbeing. Her mental health was well-known knowledge and she would openly discuss this with staff and students. Additionally, when she was in this position of trust, as the only member of security in the building, she would be told very personal things by students which she would then openly and brashly repeat and mock with her friends. Many of these secrets would be told to both myself and close aquantiances of mine.

A statement made by Zach
Promise 2 of 5, The Student Housing Company Website

Even when the facility created an official job opening for a permanent night shift guard, Zach, who was acting temporarily within this role, would be overlooked despite being promised the job and being fully qualified for it. Instead, the management at Beckley Point would decide to hire one of their acting cleaners to fulfil night guard duties. 

She was repeatedly complained about as a cleaner. She would never complete her duties and her work was always needing to be redone. She would call in sick and then post on her social media, showing that she was out and about with her boyfriend. The manager was acutely aware of this when he gave her the position.

A statement made by Zach

After leaving Beckley Point to work at Clifford House, Zach’s physical and mental health would deteriorate after experiencing Chronic Pain Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue. Despite communicating his worsening condition to his manager, the response he would receive would be one of unhelpfulness and distrust.

Zach would request that his workstation and display screen be adjusted to help with his chronic back pain. Yet, despite his physiotherapist contacting the management of Clifford House to explain his condition, they would contend that this was not sufficient evidence as a diagnosis could not be provided at this time. The facility would have Zach assessed by four doctors (chosen by TSHC) who determined that Zach’s symptoms of chronic fatigue and back pain could not be diagnosed. However, they would confirm that Zach was expeirencing chronic pain and would tell him that he shouldn’t currently be in work. They would actively tell Zach to get in touch with HR about the bullying and mistreatment he had faced, after he explained that he feared losing his job if he were to take the recommended time off.

Consequently, Zach would not receive any support from his workplace. He would, however, continue working despite his worsening physical condition. As time went by, Zach would find it difficult to fulfil some of his duties (i.e. cleaning certain areas) which required him to bend down. In response to this, Zach would seek the support of his managers once again to find a solution to his chronic illnesses in the workplace.

However, two days after explaining to management that he would require his duties to be limited, he would be called into his managers office for a talk about his conduct.

The video (below) shows the conversation Zach would have with his manager. This was the first conversation that Zach would receive about there being issues with the way he worked. However, as the manager states within this discussion, it would not be considered an official warning. Zach would be fired from his job only a few weeks after this video was taken. To protect Zach’s anonymity, we have removed any mention of his name or those of any employee.

A conversation between Zach and his Manager (Clifford House) about his conduct. This video was taken secretly using Zach’s phone.

Zach has stated to us that he believes he was bullied as he did not fit in with the management clique of Clifford House. He felt like the manager was holding his job over his head, using threats and passive agressive meetings (as shown in the clip above) to intimidate and bully him into leaving.

A few months prior to leaving Clifford House, a worker (who occasionally arrived late to work) would be told, like Zach was, that he needed to show some improvement over a two-week period and that if he didn’t he would be fired. This warning period would be extended three times, despite the worker arriving to work on time every day within the given two-week period. After nearly a month-and-a-half, his bus would run late, making him 30-minutes late to work – he would be fired shortly after.

The manager (documented in the video above) would say to Zach, just weeks before his co-worker’s dismissal, that ‘when he messes up again, I can’t wait to tell him to fuck off.’  

Now being placed in the same situation as his co-worker, Zach would feel trapped and believed that he had no other alternative than to leave his place of work. Later, Zach would be diagnosed with depression, which he believes can be correlated to his treatment at Clifford House in which the manager would bully him, laugh at him, and would ultimately offer no support.

Other Unpleasant Incidents

While our four case studies above have highlighted key issues and the recent events surrounding TSHC, we listened to several other interesting stories that we believed should not be excluded from this report. Below we have featured a selection of these accounts for you to examine. While these have been placed at the end of this investigation, they are by no means the least significant. Each manages to demonstrate the broad expanse of negative experiences that students have faced during their time at TSHC accommodations.

No Heating or Water for Three Weeks

In September 2020, Debbie’s flat from Goldsmith Court, Nottingham, would have no heating or hot water for three weeks. Despite imploring staff to help with the situation, they would continuously put-off the issue and tell students that nothing could be done to resolve the matter.

They would tell us that we had to wait until 4:00PM for someone from maintenance to come up to help us. By 4:30PM we would go down to check what was going on, only to be told that we would have to wait till the next day. This would just go on for the next few weeks. We had to use random people’s showers from another block just to stay clean.

A statement made by Debbie

With many of her flatmates having felt ill from the flu, which would get increasingly worse from the lack of heating, they would decide to move out of the flat to return home. They would not receive any compensation despite this clear breach in their contract in which, ‘The Landlord agrees to: (13.3) maintain, repair, decorate and provide adequate heating and lighting to the building and to clean the Building Shared Areas.

‘You’ve Been Broken into and Had Your Door Kicked Down? Eh, We’ll Get to You at Some Point’

On another occasion, Debbie’s flat would be broken into. A man, who unbeknownst to them at the time was a drunk student, kicked down their flat door, loudly walked around their communal spaces and would attempt to get into their rooms. Those who were in their rooms would remain quiet until the student decided to leave.

The next morning, they would find that their kitchen was completely trashed with urine covering the floor, phlegm on their chairs, mud spread everywhere (from their cactus collection) and curtains torn down from their poles.

Promise 1 of 5, The Student Housing Company Website

Concerned about the entry and the security risk that their collapsed door might pose they would seek the help of staff. Despite being very shaken up the staff would be unresponsive to their request to fix their door and provide support, stating that ‘there was nothing that they could do’ and that ‘it doesn’t look like you’ve been broken into.’

This was crazy as our door was on the ground, with screws and wood splinters strewn everywhere! When we talked to the staff it felt like they were mocking us.

A statement made by Debbie

A week after the incident their flat door remained broken and Debbie would have to call upon her boyfriend to fix it.

Phishing for Information

Anna’s grievances with TSHC would go beyond just their handling of her stolen property. While attempting to communicate with them in regard to her initial issue, she would be sent a potential phishing scam, which would be sent under the guise of a Depot Point employee. Despite enquiring about this issue with TSHC, Depot Point, she has yet to receive a response.

In late-July I received an email from the GSA account of one of the employees of Depot Point. The message read: ‘appreciate if you could please review and sign.’ Without thinking much about it, I clicked the DocuSign, which would take me to an obvious fake Hotmail sign in screen. Recognising this as a phishing attempt, I responded to the email, to inform the staff member that their account had potentially been hacked or was being used for illegitimate purposes. I never received a reply to my inquiry. Since then, the form has been suspended by the host provider for breaching terms of service [see below]. However, despite not hearing back about this matter, I still receive regular emails regarding rebooking and other promotional materials, including about how brilliant their insurance policy is.

A statement made by Anna

Phishing Email (DocuSign) sent to Anna by a potential TSHC email address

123 Form Builder has since suspended this DocuSign for breaching it’s Terms of Service.

The Student Housing Company In Name Only

However, this was not the only shocking experience that Nadene would face during her time at Austen House. During our conversation together she would reveal that the brand title – ‘The Student Housing Company’ – should simply be considered as an appellation, rather than embodying what this title connotes.

Upon re-booking her accommodation for the third year running, along with her two other recurrent flatmates, she would discover that students are not the only inhabitants within Austen House.

Because they wanted every room filled, they would just shove whoever and whenever in the last two rooms available. They would do this without telling us. There would just suddenly be a new person living with us, every other week. They would be in-out-in-out-in-out. I feel like they are a very money-orientated business. That’s all they care about at the end of the day. If you need somewhere to live for two weeks, they will have you, as it’s another two weeks’ worth of money. I get that businesses have to be like that, but they should be thinking about who is already living there. We’re all female students and they were letting older men, women, and just random people that you couldn’t really talk to just stay in the flat.

A statement made by Nadene
The About Us Page on The Student Housing Company Website. Key elements have been highlighted by Mouthing Off Magazine.

For a company that claims to have a ‘plain-speaking name’, which explicitly refers to ‘students’ and offer accommodation specifically tailored to this demographic, it could be considered misleading at best and false advertising at worst on the part of TSHC.

Flooding, Gossip and Nearly Exploding Microwaves

Zoey, a former student who lived at Beckley Point, Plymouth, would experience several issues regarding safety and security.

In October 2018, ‘hot water’ would gush through student’s dorms and across the floors of the high-rise student skyscraper. One student would inform Plymouth Live that:

Beckley Point evacuated due to some sort of flood. Someone told me that it was a burst boiler, and that the water dripping was scalding, with floor 3 full of smoke and water. They were outside for an hour, before being let into reception, but then water started dripping into there too.

In May 2020, this issue would occur once again. Students at Beckley Point were told to evacuate the building after water was seen leaking from both the inside and outside of the building.

Plymouth Live would receive a comment from a student who would state that:

Water was pouring down the front facing part of the building. Nearly four hours later we were let back in, one staff member was covered in soot and the main stairs were flooded.

Zoey would tell us how these incidents had ‘wrecked everyone’s stuff’ and had caused a great deal of trouble for all of those living at Beckley Point. However, these were not the only issues that Zoey would face at Beckley Point.

A month before the end of her tenancy, Zoey would be visited by an outsourced maintance worker. At first Zoey would call out that she was feeling ill and asked if he could visit on another occasion when she was feeling better. However, the worker would maintain that this was an urgent matter.

After letting the maintance worker into her studio, she was told that he had to replace the oven. Confused as to why this task couldn’t wait, she would ask what the problem was. Despite stating that he wasn’t suposed to tell her, he would divulge that the microwave ovens throughout the facility had been installed incorrectly and were not receiving the proper amount of airflow.

I found this out after nine months of living there… it could have gone boom at any point!

A statement made by Zoey

Unfortunatly, these were not the only issues that Zoey would face during her time at Beckley Point. While it was common to find students working for Beckley Point (either for day shifts, open days and/or promotions), Zoey would be surprised to discover, as Zach himself did (see: Case 4), that one girl had been given 12-hour night shifts – a girl who would consistently discuss her lack of mentally stability and have issues with alcohol.

Fearing that the saftey of this student and those within her accomadation could be comprimised she would voice her concern with the manager of Beckley Point and TSHC HR department. While Zoey thought that her email had gone completely ignored by both of these parties, she would overhear staff reading her email out lloud and even making fun of her, exclaiming – ‘she’s such a goody two shoes emailing in.’

She would find out days later that a staff member had shown her email to the student in question, which led to Zoey being attacked by this students friends within one of the halls of her accomodation.

It is completly unprofessional the way they treat students and staff. If you’re not in their group, they are utterly rude and have little to no respect for you.

A statement made by Zoey

While our investigation of The Student Housing Company has now been published, it is still ongoing. We are currently talking to numerous staff and students about their experiences and will continue to do so until we feel that these individuals have had their proper say on this matter. If you would like to get in touch with us to talk about your experience at a TSHC accommodation, then you can contact us at:

About The Author

Gregory Segal

While humanity has has continuously ventured into the unknown, today we are on the precipice of a new uncertainty. With covid, political unrest, and economic decline we feel that another sinister turn is just round the corner. Although discussion, art, and storytelling won't necesserily create any solutions for this in the short-term it might provide a conduit for productive thought, or at the very least might take our minds off our current reality.

1 Comment

  1. Sean Sebastian White

    Around 3/4 years ago some construction work took place in creating a new building next to Canal Point Edinburgh.

    At time there was a beautiful water feature that ran the length of this area, and provided a relaxing and cooling stream.

    When the construction work was taking place, I advised “numerous” times that this water feature should be covered up or this would be ruined!

    No one took any notice of me.

    By the time it was realised that I was actually right, probably over a year later… the damage was done! Although they tried belated to cover this feature up… significant damage had already occurred.

    However, rather than recognising their mistake The Student Housing Company and Canal Point in particular has resorted to bullying, abuse and slander when I have tried to approach them with the best of intentions.

    This still some 3 years later has not been fixed, and now it is actually in a dangerous condition as many of the pavements slabs surrounding this feature are loose.

    John the manager at Canal Point, seems to not be interested in the surrounding area, or his duty to the community the Student Housing Company operates in, and in myself raising these issues has levelled all manner of accusations at me instead of just dealing with this maturely.

    When I have tried to escalate these concerns, I’ve been shut down, an aggressive attitude taken towards me from one of their senior managers Stuart Henderson.

    Just ‘entirely’ unnecessary, and the maturity, responsibility and ‘balance’ we should see from management just does not seem to be present.

    A good company would recognise it failings, welcome feedback from customers and the community… The Student Housing Company management is openly hostile!

    And to get the police involved when a person, is just trying to raise such issues as I said with the water feature, rubbish around the building, dog fouling and general maintaining of the environment that we ‘all’ live in… is pitiful!

    Worse to then imply that I have some weird fixation with the female staff there… is not just disrespectful to me, it is actually ‘disrespectful’ to the female staff, as if in some sense they are not intelligent enough or mature enough to deal with the reasonable feedback and concerns I have proffered.

    I had thought we were all supposed to moving towards a more caring, considerate and compassionate society…if things are to truly change that this would be encouraged in women ‘and’ men.

    Not, as I have experienced time and time again, that because I am considerate chap… and not perhaps following the aggressive – I like to think ‘outdated’ stereotypical idea of a male – that this is somehow viewed as a threat.

    If we start labelling those who do not fit into societies stereotypes – be this women or men, because they are taking a progressive stance – and instead labelling them as ‘dangerous,’ for some ‘lazy’ convenience, so we can dismiss their concerns… the truth is, it is not ‘they’ who are dangerous, but those who adopt such an attitude!


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