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to request rat-based rent reduction?

(15 Posts)
riverpen Wed 25-Apr-18 23:46:36

Long story short: there are rats in the ceiling above my student room and I feel as though uni have been incredibly poor in sorting them, although I appreciate rats are tricky to get rid of. Can I ask for a rent reduction or is that not on?

Longer version: I'm a university student in my final year, living in uni accommodation. I'm on the top floor of my building. Just after Christmas, I starting hearing rats/mice in the roof and wrote to the relevant uni offices to let them know. I received a response saying that they would look into it. I didn't hear back for a few weeks, so emailed again (rats had now multiplied, happily colonised whole roof space and started fighting in the small hours). Was told man from council had been and couldn't see/hear anything. I reiterated that they are definitely there - I can hear them fighting, scrabbling and squeaking. Man from council was sent over again and I asked to be copied into emails. It became clear that council man had actually implied to uni after first visit that it would be very difficult to get into the roof to sort them, so nobody should bother trying unless I complained again - hence, I suspect, why I hadn't been 'reminded' with an explanatory email.

Uni cleaning staff member came to ask me whether I was sure I was hearing rats, and reminded me that radiators can be very loud. I didn't say 'radiators don't usually fight each other squeakily at 3am', but very much wanted to. Uni emailed to let me know that they would have a hole put in a ceiling to allow council man to get at the rats. A few days later, I saw workmen going into bedrooms in the building next to mine (adjacent but different height). I emailed uni warning that I think they had the wrong ceiling. I received a reply saying (I paraphrase a bit) 'oh yes, we've had another look at the map, sorry, we'll call the workmen off.' I came back to my room that evening to find that there was now a (thankfully covered) hole in my ceiling. Can now hear rats rather more loudly through the hole.

Fast forward another month and nobody has been back to lay traps/poison, there's just a boarded-up hole. Rats noisy and happy as ever and keeping me and next-door roommate up at night. Went into uni office in person and was told that the latest understanding was that the rats were crawling into my roof from roof of nearby hotel, and that hotel would therefore need to sort rat problem. I reminded (very lovely) uni office person that nearby hotel is separated from my building by quite a lot of space and several buildings, plus is a lot taller than my building, making rat migration between their roof and my roof unlikely to be the sole source of rats in my roof. She said 'oh, well maybe it isn't be that then'. She then offered (very kindly) for me to move to another room for the duration of my exams, which are very soon. I have declined for now because moving rooms is a pretty big effort a few weeks before finals, I would be separated from my current flatmates (of whom only one is also directly below roof at the moment) and I would not (I think) have kitchen access in the new room. I have invested in new earplugs and am spending a lot of time in the library.

Rats are still loud and healthy as ever and have invented night-time Rat Olympics. I could also swear I can smell them now.

I received my rent bill for this term today. This tiny uni room is incredibly expensive (local high rent). AIBU to request at least a small rent reduction because a) rats have been very disturbing (I feel I am on shaky ground here because they did offer me another room) and b) because I think uni have been a bit incompetent in sorting this whole thing? I realise rats are very hard to get rid of entirely, but I also think this has been a bit of a farce (much as I do genuinely like the uni office people)? However, this is obviously my first time living in rented accommodation and I'm aware I might just be being incredibly naive about what to expect.

riverpen Wed 25-Apr-18 23:48:22

Apologies for length of post - got a bit carried away, sorry.

Deerdear Wed 25-Apr-18 23:49:00

I’m confused. If you were offered another room, why didn’t you take it ?

IHeartMaryLennox Wed 25-Apr-18 23:55:34

Er, to be brutally honest I think you were a fool not to accept the offer of another room.

Bitclueless211 Wed 25-Apr-18 23:57:59

I can't believe how relaxed you are being about this. I'd be camping at the uni office going crazy until they sorted this out! It sounds awful!

riverpen Wed 25-Apr-18 23:58:06

@Deerdear - because it would be a room in a different building q far away from mine (probably the first year buildings) and involve a proper move of all my stuff (not miles away but several roads) which I don't really have time for this close to exams, it wouldn't have access to a kitchen as my current room does, and I wouldn't be with my friends any more (I realise this might sound daft but we did all move into this current building together and we could do with the mutual support in the run-up to finals).

riverpen Thu 26-Apr-18 00:02:40

@IHeartMaryLennox to be honest, I probably will take them up on the offer if my sleep is still being disturbed in the last week or so before finals - I suppose that because it would be inconvenient to move at this point, I'm hoping that if I stay put they'll have to actually fix the problem.

IHeartMaryLennox Thu 26-Apr-18 00:04:28

Will you have to move ALL your stuff? Will they let you leave bits and just take main things?

PoshPenny Thu 26-Apr-18 00:05:36

I would email them back inviting them to reduce your rent in view of the rat problem in the attic above your room they seem unable to address. Don't ask for a "small reduction".

riverpen Thu 26-Apr-18 00:14:46

@IHeartMaryLennox - they would probably let me leave some things until the end of term, but there are some furniture/soft furnishing-type things that would be a pain to move several roads away (I have no access to a car) - plus I have the walls basically papered with notes, and it would take a good few hours to take them all down/put them back up. To be honest, the lack of a kitchen and the no longer being with my own support group is more of an issue for me. But I'll definitely take up their offer if I have to, I've decided that the hard line for me would be disturbed sleep two weeks before finals.

AlmostAJillSandwich Thu 26-Apr-18 00:18:54

You will be able to smell them, their piss and shit will be leaking through the woodwork/whatever ceiling is made of, its health hazard surely, it will be causing mold.

riverpen Thu 26-Apr-18 00:19:00

@PoshPenny - the thing is, I know these people fairly well and like them (have worked in that office for a bit over holidays and might again) and don't want to be rude/pushy if I can avoid it. I also suspect 'higher management' has been the real issue, not the office people I've been talking to. If it's a reasonable request (and your reply suggests to me it is, phew) I'd like to phrase it in a way that's polite and friendly, but that they will take seriously?

riverpen Thu 26-Apr-18 00:20:54

@AlmostAJillSandwich - yeah, it's the urine I think I'm beginning to smell. Have bought a lot of room scent things. I'm just annoyed the uni don't seem to have been taking it very seriously all this time?

IamtheDevilsAvocado Thu 26-Apr-18 05:36:30

.... Could you do an informal arrangement

Still be living in your flat... But you keep the offered room as a flak back... You could even say you're using it for study when the rats get too noisy?

Then you also can decamp there easily if all gets too noisy around finals? I mean just sleep there rather than move your stuff?

My sympathies...

I had to sleep elsewhere during finals... As we were continually woken by our noisy Greek neighbours playing football in their flat and having friends having loud conversations /ringing our doorbell at 3amangry.... 'as they can't hear their doorbell, as the music is too loud' hmm

IamtheDevilsAvocado Thu 26-Apr-18 05:37:26

PS meant as fall back option, obvs!

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