Propertymark to probe leading lettings firm after BBC investigation

Student Haus has been accused of letting a sub-standard property to students and faking a signature on a repairs access waiver.


One of the UK’s leading student lettings firms based in the North West of England has been investigated by BBC Radio 4 after complaints from tenants about one of its properties in Salford.

The programme’s investigation on Wednesday involved Student Haus, which is part of the Mistoria Group which has some 1,000 properties under management.

Three students renting the house at £3,600 a month say they found the shared property to be in a reasonable condition when they viewed it earlier this year but, after returning to start a new semester, discovered that it had deteriorated and was in “in a poor state of repair”.

This included fire doors that were not working, internal doors that could not be locked properly, significant damp, plaster coming off ceilings, a non-operational toilet and a boarded-up window in the kitchen.

The students also claimed that a waiver produced by the company to enable its maintenance staff to enter the property without having to ask for permission, featured a faked signature of one of the tenants.

handwriting expert

The programme asked a handwriting expert to look at them who said she believed the signature on the waiver was not genuine and had been copied from another document, most likely the original tenancy agreement.

To answer these points, Student Haus’ Group Operations Director Khan Saleemi was interviewed by the programme which also revealed that his boss and the firm’s group CEO is Mish Liyanage is a board member at Propertymark.

Saleemi told presenter Winifred Robinson that he would investigate the claims about the waiver and “get to the bottom of this”, and also addressed the state of the property, saying the students had asked to move in early and that, therefore, repairs to the house had not been completed.

He also stated these repairs “and more” had now been rectified, a claim the tenants and the BBC said was not the case, as some repairs had not been done. Saleemi also said the tenants had been offered an alternative property but they had turned it down.

In a letter to the BBC he said, “Our staff are committed to work with our tenants and their guarantors to resolve the issues and re-create the positive working relationship with them. We are confident that with our tenants’ cooperation, we will be able to resolve any additional work in next coming days.”

Propertymark response

Propertymark has released a statement saying: “Propertymark expects and requires the highest professional standards of all members regardless.

“Propertymark have subsequently been in communication with Mrs Heffernan who has begun the process of supplying us with the full case history and supporting evidence.

“We have commenced an investigation into the matter along a defined process for handling complaints, and we will fully consider all aspects within this process. Our investigation process is completely independent of the Propertymark Board and we will take all appropriate action in the light of the findings, however we cannot comment regarding specifics of individual cases which are live and currently in progress.

“It is important we encourage open and honest conversation with all parties to enable us to conduct a balanced, fully transparent and fair investigation.”

Statement from Mistoria

The Negotiator has approached Mistoria for further comment and received this response from Mish Liyanage, CEO of Mistoria Group.

“First of all on behalf of team at Student Haus, I would like to express my sincere apologies to our tenants / students and their parents if we at Student Haus have failed to meet their expectations with regards to this property.

“We are in the middle of carrying out our full-scale investigation. If the need arises, we may welcome an independent investigation, too. We are committed to be totally fair and honest in our investigation and if it results in any shortcoming or improvements, we will happily implement them.

“We have appointed Mr Khan Saleemi, our Operations Director, to carry out this full investigation on this matter.

“Based on his findings so far, two of our maintenance contractors have been terminated from the business, a manager suspended and two further staff members are involved in the inquiry.

“As part of the inquest, Mr Saleemi has been carrying out an internal audit, too on our processes and systems of the business. Furthermore, we are organising further training and education of our lettings team to ensure that they understand the seriousness of some of the issues that have been brought to our attention.

“While our investigation is ongoing, we have instructed our maintenance contractor team to rectify all remaining issues at the property as the top priority to the total satisfaction of the tenants and their parents. Once done, we plan to re-decorate the whole building, and bring it back to the state it was when it was fully refurbished and converted three years ago at a cost of over £110K. We expect these works to be completed before end of the month.

“We are confident with the co-operation of the tenants and their parents, we can turn this negative and tense situation to a positive environment to ensure the next nine months of our tenants’ time, is the best time of their lives. If this can be achieved between all parties involved in this matter, then we all would have achieved a fantastic result.

“As a gesture of good will to the tenants and their parents for any stress or suffering caused on this matter we will give a 50% discount of the October rent.”

Listen to the You and Yours programme in full.

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