Inside student’s £1,600-a-month ‘prison’ flat with broken heating, cockroaches and vomit


A student from Yorkshire has been paying £1,600 a month to live in accommodation she says has cockroaches crawling around, broken heating and piles of rubbish

When Alicia Sowerby from York started her law degree in September last year, she moved into the high-rise block in Aldgate, east London.

After finally moving out on Friday, the 23-year-old from York decided to speak out about the ‘prison-like’ conditions she claimed to experience.

When talking about her experience across social media, she described them as “overwhelmingly upsetting”.

Her recollections of time spent in the accommodation include ‘a bag of sick’ being abandoned in the corridor, as well as ‘ German cockroaches’ invading one of the floors.

Alicia said: “It’s such a lot of money, I have no idea how they are getting away with this. The whole block stinks and there is rubbish everywhere. It’s disgusting.”

She claims: “There was a bag of sick left on a chair for a whole day – it was spilling out everywhere.

“Those living conditions are a breach of human rights. It’s like living in a prison.

“I used to sit and work near the reception area and people were complaining all the time but nothing changed.”

Alicia, who is studying at the University of Law in Bloomsbury, shared the £412-a-week flat with international students.

She said the awful conditions affected both her physical and mental health, and pest control were called to an infestation of cockroaches and have since visited every week.

Earlier this year, Alicia said residents also had to live with ‘mucky water’ leaking from the fifth to the fourth floor, and from light fittings in the smoking area.

She also said the lifts broke at the start of May, so students had to trudge up and down 32 flights of stairs until they were fixed.

Alicia claims a group of students even sought help from their embassy, and many contacted the local MP.

Residents also organised a petition over complaints, she says.

Alicia said: “I heard that one guy got stuck in the lift overnight. He could not get out, because the emergency button had been taken out.

“The pest control man said they were German cockroaches that spread really quickly, and they tried to get rid of them.

“But after he left I heard they had spread over the whole floor and it was going to be shut down. They are still there.

“We’re just young people trying to live away from home for the first time. It was overwhelmingly upsetting and I really couldn’t handle it.’

However, property managers IQ Student Accommodation, said the photos were not a reflection of the reality.

A spokesperson for IQ Student Accommodation said: ‘We pride ourselves on the high-quality accommodation we provide to our students and ensure common areas are cleaned multiple times each day.

‘We are disappointed that Alicia has made a series of allegations, supported by misleading photographs, that do not reflect the reality of life at Aldgate.

‘We frequently inspect our buildings and over the last year we have addressed every issue that Alicia has raised.’