London Students Protest Against Rising Accommodation Costs
By |Published On: 30th January 2016|

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London Students Protest Against Rising Accommodation Costs

By |Published On: 30th January 2016|

This article is an external press release originally published on the Landlord News website, which has now been migrated to the Just Landlords blog.

Students at a university in London are refusing to pay rent in protest against spiralling accommodation prices and are demanding a 40% reduction in rent prices.

Over 150 students in two halls of residence at University College London (UCL) are refusing to pay rent amounting to more than £250,000. The Cut the Rent campaigners say they will not pay until UCL meets their demand for rent to be cut by two-fifths.

An accommodation representative and a campaign organiser, Angus O’Brien, explains: “The cost of rent has gone up dramatically and it’s preventing people from studying at university. This is a massive problem across London and the country. We are showing that something can be done about rising rent prices; our action could be the start of something much wider.”1

Campaigners claim that rents at UCL have increased by around 56% since 2009.

To rent a room in Ramsey Hall, one of the halls of residence affected by the strike, it costs £158.97-£262.43 per week. At the other building, Max Rayne House, rent is £102.97-£232.40. It is one of the cheapest halls at the university.

Nyima Murry is a 19-year-old first year History of Art student. She says: “I’ve struggled massively with the cost of rent. I’m not from a wealthy background and last term, I had to work two jobs, which really affected my studies. I can’t afford to eat if I don’t work. Studying is becoming about your background and how much you’re earning, rather than your ability.

“Many people I know are putting off moving to London because they can’t afford to study here. I’m striking so that future students have the opportunity to study at UCL on their academic merit, not because of their financial background.”1 

This latest protest follows another campaign at UCL last year, where students were collectively awarded £400,000 in compensation over a dispute against noise and a rat infestation.

The Cut the Rent campaign was set up last year. It says it previously raised the issue of increasing rents with the university, as well as setting up a petition and organising strikes against poor living conditions.

One of the campaigners, 22-year-old David Dahlborn, a third year Eastern European and Jewish Studies student, hopes to bring wider change.

He says: “This strike is extraordinarily significant. Education is becoming unaffordable because of tuition fees and rent. There’s also a housing catastrophe going on in London and a student debt crisis. It’s important that we succeed, because we need to change things.”1

The Vice President of Welfare at the National Union of Students (NUS), Shelly Asquith, also comments on the situation: “I take my hat off to the students at UCL who, for the best part of a year, have mounted a militant and successful rent campaign. Now they are taking their demands further and asking for a cut in rent. This is not unreasonable when the rent in London is more than 100% of the maximum loans and grants available for students. The UCL Cut the Rent campaign is right to point out that accommodation costs are equating to social cleansing of working class students from education. NUS fully supports the campaign.”1 

A UCL spokesperson has defended the rent rises, saying that the university’s prices are competitive for the capital: “We are seeking dialogue with the Cut the Rent campaign to discuss the issues and set out how the finances of UCL accommodation work. While we understand the concerns around the cost of accommodation in London, it is inaccurate to suggest that UCL accommodation is making a profit for the university.

“All of the money that UCL receives in rent is ploughed back into residences. While the proportions may vary year-on-year, we invariably spend more on residences than we receive in rental income.

“We make every effort at UCL to keep rents as low as possible, which is a difficult challenge considering our central London location. Our rents are competitive in comparison with equivalent London institutions and far less than for comparable accommodation in the private sector.”1 

Do you agree with the students’ campaign, or do you believe the university has set competitive rents?


About the Author: Em Morley (she/they)

Em is the Content Marketing Manager for Just Landlords, with over five years of experience writing for insurance and property websites. Together with the knowledge and expertise of the Just Landlords underwriting team, Em aims to provide those in the property industry with helpful resources. When she’s not at her computer researching and writing property and insurance guides, you’ll find her exploring the British countryside, searching for geocaches.

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