In these days of mobile technology (when seemingly your every wish is but the push of a button away), it seems strange that when it comes to student accommodation many landlords still think the best way to contact net savvy students is to stick a board outside their house. Sure, if you opt to search your next property online you potentially miss the novelty of tramping round Nottingham streets in the middle of winter. But there are other reasons why students should be wary of using letting boards to lead their search for accommodation … .

Areas with high numbers of student properties have, in the past, been notorious for their high crime levels, none more so than Lenton. In the past few years, thanks to the work of both universities, students’ unions, the police and the city council, crime figures have gone down. Burglary though, still remains a problem and one contributory factor is letting boards. As well as advertising houses to students, the boards also provide an easy way for burglars to identify, without even walking down a street, which properties are likely to be home to a ready supply of laptops, iPods and BlackBerries.

The boards also do little to enhance areas visually. Designed to stand out from the competition these colourful boards can make an otherwise pleasant street look quite shabby. Not great if you are a student living in Nottingham through term time, but even worse if you are a permanent resident.

The University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union is currently working with the two universities, local residents and Unipol in support of a Council led scheme that will effectively control the use of letting boards. The scheme will require all boards in designated areas to be taken down during the first few months of the academic year when many students are living for the first time in their own houses and aren’t as security conscious as more ‘experienced’ students. It will also require boards to be flush fitting against the property and limit their size. Hopefully the introduction of such a scheme will show that students also care about the environment they live in and will help make Nottingham a safer and happier place to live for both students and permanent residents alike.

[Teddy Smith, Nottingham University Students’ Union, Article in Housing, Unipol Tabloid, April 2011, reprinted from TransNAG, 2010-2012, Part II, p. 39, 2012]