Student advice site Save the Student has conducted its National Student Accommodation Survey 2017, finding that 65% of students in the UK are living in squalor.
The shocking study asked 2,095 students to reveal the realities of living in rental accommodation across the UK. And the results aren’t pretty:
- Almost 50% of students said their accommodation suffers from damp
- 42% have been left without any running water or heating
- 26% of their properties are lumbered with unwanted guests, including rats, slugs and bed bugs
- 1 in 4 reported that problems are never resolved by their landlords
Worryingly, the cliché of students living in squalor may be closer to the mark than previously thought. Two thirds of students are paying for homes more suited to rats than renters, Save the Student believes.
The survey found that students around the UK pay an average deposit of just under £300 each to secure a place to live, with 80% coughing up for fees as well.
Many have to pay a month’s or whole term’s rent in advance, which can be anything from £500 to thousands of pounds. This means that students are being asked to put down large sums of money for accommodation before their first loan instalments come in at the start of the academic year, putting pressure on their budgets and the bank of mum and dad.
And paying more rent and upfront costs doesn’t guarantee students an easier ride. The majority (65%) experience serious housing issues, including rodents, bed bugs, damp, inappropriate landlord visits and security concerns.
Claudia, a second year student in Yorkshire, lives in university accommodation. She comments on her experiences: “[My] bedroom would get extremely damp and I would have a build up of mould… I can only have my bed positioned against that damp wall since the room is too small to switch things around. I bought a small dehumidifier (one I could afford) and would clean up the wall regularly… I did call the university in the first semester. They just recommended to leave the window open (which I always do) and not to dry clothes on the radiator (which I don’t). Then they said they’ll send someone over to have a look at it but no one ever did.”
NHS advice states: “If you have damp and mould, you’re more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma”.
Nevertheless, Claudia is just one of many students living in such conditions.
Bryony, a third year student, says: “I am asthmatic and it was [damp] in the bedroom. Landlord simply refused to get it looked at.”
We have put together a handy guide for landlords on preventing condensation and damp in your properties, which will help you protect your tenants’ health and safety: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/news/landlords-guide-condensation-control/
In fact, although half of those who reported housing issues said they were sorted within a week, 22% said it took a month, while 25% said their problem was never resolved.
A third year student from the East Midlands claims: “We struggled to lock our front door and they didn’t come until two days later. Our house was not secure and they just kept saying they would send someone out, but they never turned up.”
Other shocking complaints include: a gas leak being repeatedly shrugged off by the landlord; noisy neighbours; and agents, maintenance staff and landlords walking into homes and even bedrooms without warning.
We remind all landlords that you must give at least 24 hours’ written notice to conduct an inspection of the property. This guide includes everything you need to know about undertaking periodic inspections: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/news/landlords-guide-periodic-inspections/
Jake Butler, the Editor of Save the Student, responds to the survey: “People tend to think that living in substandard conditions is just part of being a student, but it’s time we realised it simply isn’t acceptable, especially when many students and their parents are shelling out plenty of money.
“We hear from stressed out students with housing issues pretty much daily. Far too many landlords and even university accommodation providers will just shrug off major issues. And who can they turn to when that happens? There should be more obvious support available to students for matters like this.”
Landlords, if you let properties to student tenants, remember that you must provide safe, secure and high standard accommodation. Always stick to the law and look out for the health and safety of your tenants.