STUDENTS embroiled in a row about an ‘uninhabitable’ rental home, which had left them with debts in excess of £5,000, finally celebrated a win.

Fabricio Thercaj and Lee Kadiri, who study at Oxford Brookes University, revealed they were given back their deposit and first month’s rent totalling £1,766.33, and had thousands of pounds ‘written off’ after a campaign led by community union ACORN.

The second-year students rented two rooms from a landlord, represented by North Oxford Property Services (NOPS), and were due to move in back in September last year.

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However, the pair said they were shocked to discover that the home had a number of problems including ‘mushrooms growing in the toilet’, ‘mould in the walls, sinks, bathrooms, windows and all over the house’.

When Mr Thercaj and Mr Kadiri told NOPS that they would not move into the property, the landlord withheld their deposit and first month’s rent for the next nine months.

Mr Thercaj commented on the experience: “We received the refund last Friday but it took my whole university experience to get here.

“It is difficult and not something you would really want to experience.

“I wanted to move in with my friend and enjoy it, and rip all the benefits from it, but I did not get that.”

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At the time, ACORN vowed to keep up pressure on the estate agency representing the landlord to ensure that the two students were given their money back.

Emma Andrews, union member and lead on this case, highlighted that ACORN is often contacted about this kind of ‘injustice’ in Oxfordshire.

She said: “Lee, Fabio and the team played a blinder, took on impossible odds, and won what was right.

“Unfortunately, the community union sees this kind of injustice all the time.

“That is why, whether it is against estate agents or bosses, ordinary people like us have to stand up for what is right.

“If you dare to struggle, you dare to win.

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“If you do not dare to struggle, then you do not deserve to win.

“We appreciate as well that we would not have won without the integrity of journalists at the Oxford Mail who dare to report the truth about how rich and powerful estate agents behave.”

The union also helped another student in September, who won a battle over a stained mattress against her landlord.

In April, Debbie Swailes, NOPS’ director, said that the landlord had in fact offered a solution to the two students.

At the time she commented: “We understand that shortly after they moved in they raised concerns about a small number of issues, which were dealt with as soon as practically possible given Covid limitations.

“Whilst we acknowledge that there were some problems, for which we apologise, nothing rendered the house uninhabitable, indeed there were two other tenants in residence at this time.”

NOPS has been contacted for a comment.