13 Sep 23
Onyx Birmingham general manager said he was ‘mortified and extremely sorry’ for the state of the student accommodation as new students went to move in.
Angry parents have slammed the state of a student accommodation block in Birmingham as they went to drop off their children ahead of the new academic year. Students moving into the Onyx accommodation in Lancaster Street in the city centre, opposite Birmingham Children’s Hospital, were left distraught at the state of the flats and communal areas.
They claimed food was left rotting in fridges and freezers, which had been switched off, flies, ticks and rubbish left in corridors and flats, with students ‘left in tears’ and their parents fuming and demanding answers on Saturday (September 9).
Steve Kennedy had taken his 18-year-old daughter, who he asked not to be named, to the Onyx block off Lancaster Circus Queensway at 8am ahead of her starting her performing arts course at BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music) Institute in the city on Monday (September 11). And he was upset by what he saw.
When they went in the block they were hit by a ‘stench’ he says, and a family leaving the site with suitcases reporting ticks in their room on floor 14. Steve and his daughter made their way to her allocated room on floor 13 – with rubbish piled in bags in the corridor and then a ‘disgraceful’ kitchen with food and rubbish everywhere.
Steve, along with other parents, had paid a £2,000 deposit as students do not receive their finance until later this month and he was disgusted by what he witnessed at the Gun Quarter property. He said: “We were due to be checked in on Saturday morning and went through registration despite them knowing the state of the rooms.
“As we were walking to the lifts there were people with suitcases coming out and I joked why they were leaving so soon. They said the 14th floor was ‘infested with ticks’.”
The 55-year-old continued: “My daughter was on floor 13 and the stench was horrendous throughout the whole building. The landing was stacked up high with bin bags. It was filthy. There was food in the fridges
“I spoke to the manager and they said it could be cleaned in two hours. We gave the manager the benefit of the doubt.
“We came back at three o’clock and there were hundreds of people – and girls crying. It was pandemonium.
“They were just overwhelmed with it. There were young kids working in there and they couldn’t cope with it. They knew of the issues but were still booking people in. There were dozens of people with the same problems.
“My daughter was devastated. She never cries and to see her break down was upsetting. At four o’clock we went to the room and it was exactly the same. So we went home. It’s a disgrace”
Steve lives in Binley in Coventry and did not have too far to travel but said other families had come from around the country from Leeds to London and were offered alternative accommodation for the night and food vouchers. The 55-year-old said the accommodation costs £183 per week.
“It was shocking. They said it would be a couple of hours but there was no way they could clean it in that time. The place needed to be fumigated and that would take 48 hours.
Steve returned with his daughter on Sunday and was offered a different room this time on floor nine. He said: “We were shown a room on floor nine which was the same as the day before, with the kitchen and communal areas dirty and another room on the same floor which wasn’t any better.
“On Sunday evening they offered my daughter a room in a completely different block, in block B on floor 10 and it was immaculate. All the problems were in block A.
“There was a manager on Sunday called Kay and he was good. It was the fourth room we were shown. I have a 25-year-old who went to the University of Birmingham and the accommodation they supplied was great – it was linked to them.”
He added: “I don’t think this is the end of it, I think it’s just a matter of time before more people will call. And if any more issues occur their I will pull my daughter out of it.”
A second parent, Suzanne Symons, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, and said: “Dropped my child at Onyx Birmingham yesterday [Saturday, September 9] walked into flat to be greeted by a kitchen full of rubbish and rotting food. Opened fridge to find a swarm of flies who had been feeding on rotting meat. Power had been turned off to fridges/freezers full of food.”
Kyriakos Stergiou, known as Kay, the general manager at Onyx Birmingham has responded to BirminghamLive’s request for a statement and said he was ‘mortified’ by the state of the building and said his company had been let down by the cleaning company.
He said some some students with 51-week leases only were due to move out on September 4, and some ‘stragglers’ had stayed beyond their term. And that had led to a delay in cleaning the flats.
He said there were nine kitchens and flats were in a bad state which led to bags of rubbish in communal corridors which would have been seen by a number of students and their families who were looking to move in. He said he and the cleaning staff worked into the night to sort the problems on Saturday and Sunday and reassured those moving in that the accommodation was now clean.
Mr Stergiou said: ” Oh my god I absolutely understand the upset. I’m mortified and extremely sorry for the situation. We did have a number of kitchens in nine flats that were not cleaned.
“A number of students checked out last week. Arrangements had been made myself with a cleaning company and they kind of let us down. They were supposed to clean the whole building before the check-ins on Saturday.
“As they were cleaning them they were bringing the rubbish out of the flats. But now the whole building has been cleaned. We have now got a company coming out who are in the process of shampooing the carpets in the whole building.
“We relocated students into a clean flat away from where they were initially allocated. And the cleaning company stayed 24.7 on-site. The students had access to another flat to stay in on Saturday until their flat was ready. Most kids I could see were happy.”
He added: “I was here to 2am Saturday night into Sunday and 12 midnight on Sunday. These kids and families, I have spoken to them now. We were all hugging and kissing at the end!
“It was very stressful but they all saw the effort we made.”
He added: “The check-ins haven’t stopped. They have been manic on Monday. But it’s night and day from where it was on Saturday. If anyone wants to speak to me I’m here every day. Or they can email me.
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