Jess Barrett investigates housing: what’s the fuss?

One of the main concerns that students face while at university is accommodation. At first it’s about which halls you get allocated and then, like a brick in the face, you start worrying about where you’ll live once first year is over.

A considerable amount of students secure their second year accommodation outside of Home Run before the autumn semester ends. After speaking to Jess Cappi, a third year who secured off-campus accommodation in the autumn semester in her first year, she explained, ‘I was stressed and wanted to secure my second year house as quickly as possible’. One major reason for this was that she had agreed to live as a group of six and ‘there was a big hype about how quickly big houses were taken.’  

One issue that many students have with Home Run is that it releases its list of approved accommodation in January and that this is too late. Lee Casey, a Masters student, also secured his second year house outside of Home Run and agreed that ‘housing in Norwich is so competitive. They get snapped up fast.’  

However, securing your off-campus accommodation through Home Run has its benefits: it releases a list of accommodation in January, meaning you don’t have to go out and actively search for housing. Home Run also provides an extra layer of security as they promise to help with any difficult landlords and threaten to take them off their service if they don’t comply. The safety blanket their service provides is fundamental in case your landlord doesn’t adhere to the contract (through abiding by a Government-protected scheme). Abbey Hancock, a third year student, conveyed how helpful going through Home Run was when her landlord was reluctant to replace her house’s faulty boiler: ‘going through Home Run enabled us to get advice from UEA’s student union about how we should take action against our landlord, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a clue what to do.’

Every student interviewed has said that securing off campus accommodation was a stressful process. However, Jess Cappi, who experienced going through Home Run and seeking it out independently, said that although ‘finding accommodation through Home Run was more stressful on the day, I am happier with the result; we live closer to campus and the rent is so much cheaper.’

Consensus is that securing housing is stressful and might make you feel like you need to secure it as quickly as you can. But Home Run guarantees trusted landlords and support in case you need advice, so it is worth the wait.  

Georgina Burchell, Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer, says: ‘We are aware that many students start to think about accommodation at this time of year. We feel that by releasing the list in January, we are allowing students a little longer to get to know their potential housemates. Many students looking for accommodation are in their first year at UEA and at this point, have known their potential housemates for just over six weeks.

‘The list is also released in January so that it does not clash with assignment deadlines which occur before the Christmas break. This year the list is released on 19 January at 9am. The list is available online at uea.su/homerun and current students can access the list using their UEA username and password via the Shibboleth login’.

Burchell also says: ‘That timing of the list release is a topic which features in the Home Run survey each year. This year we asked participants to choose which month they would like the see the housing list released, giving November, December, January, February and March as options and the majority indicated a preference to continue with a January list release. We will do a survey after list release to see how students found the process and will use this feedback to amend the service for the next housing period.

‘advice(su) will help you with any issues that you may face during house hunting or once you have a house. It doesn’t matter who you rent from, advice(su) can be found downstairs in the Hive, or you can call 01603 593463 or email advicecentre@uea.ac.uk

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Jess Barrett

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September 2021
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