Ever booked accommodation and turned up to find it’s not exactly what you were sold in the pictures?
Well, that’s just what happened with Jack Simm’s university accommodation, which he described as being like a “building site”. So, he decided to do what any self-respecting law student would do and took his landlord to court – winning his first-ever case with the help of his textbooks.
The 19-year-old was in his first year at the University of East Anglia in September 2020 when he moved into the Velocity Student accommodation in Norwich. But because he got his university place through clearing he didn’t get a chance to view it beforehand.
“I thought I was going to get what I’d seen on these photos,” he says. “These nice, upmarket student accommodation rooms.”
But when he turned up, it was a different story.
“It was a building site,” he says of the property which was developed by The Freedman Project LLP and managed by Estateducation. “There were skips everywhere, tradesmen everywhere, hammering the ceiling, hammering the walls. The place was covered in dust from sanding.
“It was almost ironic and funny that people were moving into this place because it looked awful. It was just a bit of a dire state really.” After a week Jack moved out and stopped paying his rent. Despite being threatened with recovery action by a debt collector, he turned to his textbooks and started building his case.
‘Young people need to back themselves’
He collected witness statements, put together the case law and statute law surrounding contract representation, and sued for breach of contract and misrepresentation.
“It was quite easy, to be honest,” says Jack, who is originally from Newcastle.
“I studied contract law at the time. To me, it was quite an easy case of opening my contract law textbook and looking through some of the relevant law and applying it to the situation.”
He adds: “We sued for our money back our deposit our first month’s rent. They sued for the entire tenancy agreement – around £7,000.”
At an online hearing at Newcastle County Court on 2 November, his dad spoke for him in court, and Jack won what he had paid them plus court fees, totalling £999. The counterclaim was dismissed.
He said it was “great winning” and “really just instilled in me that young people need to back themselves”.
“You just can’t let these landlords win,” he added. “[You’ve] got to take them to court if this happens. The change will happen. The culture needs to change.”
Estateducation declined to comment when approached by the BBC.