Teddy Hall tampered with tenancy agreements

The price agreed had been altered by hand on tenancy contracts

Source: Wikimedia Commons

St Edmund Hall altered tenancy contracts after they were signed by students in order to raise accommodation prices, Cherwell can reveal.

Students have spoken about their anger at the college after they were not informed about the changes to their contracts.

The college has apologised, saying they were “sorry for the mistake.”

Students had signed the original contracts online, but they were not signed immediately by the College.

The agreements, seen by Cherwell, show that the contracts were altered by hand.

In one, the room number was added in pen after being left out of the original contract.

Teddy Hall students later found out about the changes when the contracts were delivered to pigeon holes. They have also complained that they had to push the college to disclose the completed contracts.

The contracts show that rent prices were raised by almost £100.

In Michaelmas term, prices were raised from £2,268 to £2,352 and for each of the next two terms they were raised from £1984.50 to £2,058. An almost four per cent increase.

The price of extra days spent in college accomodation was also raised.

A Teddy Hall student told Cherwell: “I strongly believe that the college should have given an explanation on why altered our contracts without consent because this would have offered us some level or reassurance.

“They should also come up with some preventative measures and rules so whatever I suffered would not be repeated for future students.”

Another post-grad student at the college, Isaac Mayne, said: “You’d have thought that when this happens the Hall would make every effort to make it up to the affected student, and from what the student told the MCR they’ve actually done more to ignore the issue than solving it.”

A spokesperson for Teddy Hall said: “There was an administrative error with one particular type of tenancy agreement at the start of this academic year – which meant a small number of graduate students would have received an agreement that had not been updated to reflect an annual increase in the cost (i.e. it had been accidentally left at the 2016-17 figures). This is the reason for the handwritten alterations.

“We are sorry for the mistake, but it was a genuine error with our billing system.

“As soon as our graduate students receive an offer, they are sent an information sheet which lays out the current accommodation charges but states clearly that a yearly increase will be applied, in August each year (and includes the approximate percentage increase).

“Over summer 2017, one of our accommodation buildings needed an extensive central heating refurbishment, which meant that it could not be occupied, and this work was completed a little later than originally anticipated.

“It was therefore necessary to move some graduate students to alternative rooms at the last minute in order to accommodate them, depending on their date of arrival (which varies from around 1 September to 10 October). In these cases, a room of the same style/price would be substituted £100 where necessary.

“Your enquiry relates to matters that took place several months ago at the start of this academic year. Where students queried anything relating to this, we responded at the time to explain the situation.”

A postgraduate student at Teddy Hall has also told Cherwell about problems with his accommodation.

He said there have been two leaks this year in his room, which is in offsite accommodation near Lady Margaret Hall College.

The most recent leak damaged his laptop and meant he lost his warranty on his laptop because of water damage.

He emailed the college and asked for a replacement of the laptop. They refused.

The IT department checked his computer and said they didn’t find any damage. However, because water had come into contact with the computer the student lost the warranty.

The student, who posted on Facebook about the problems, told Cherwell: “I thought these things were easy to solve, somebody should compensate for the damage. The college could at least say something nice.”

“College, in their replies to me, show that they just don’t have the trust in students. When I told them what happened they kept just pushing it back.

“Every time I say something or make a point, I have to later on show them photo evidence this is not supposed to be like this. It’s wasting a lot of time.”

“If I knew this was how they were going to handle the situation, I might as well just have sucked it up and not do anything and buy a new computer.”

A college spokesperson said: “We are in discussion with the student in question to resolve the situation.

“There was a leak in the room, caused by human error (another student left the shower running), which has subsequently been fixed.

“Students are advised to take out their own insurance for personal effects.”

Neither Oxford University nor Oxford SU replied to a request for comment.