Vast majority of UK students could be living in housing ‘unfit for habitation’

Calls for the government to include student landlords and accommodation providers within the scope of any forthcoming landlord register and assurance that all landlords in breach of the law be immediately referred to the Housing Ombudsman, are being made following new research into student rental living conditions.

Related topics:  Landlords
Property Reporter
6th October 2021
Student House

According to newly released research from student work app, Stint, an overwhelming 83% of students have lived in accommodation that could be considered ‘unfit for habitation’ under the Homes Act 2018.

The survey of over 1,000 students found that 41% have lived in a property that has had mould or damp. 45% have had a broken door or window lock in their property and 19% had a broken smoke alarm in their property, leaving thousands of students at risk. This poor standard of housing is all the more concerning given 85% of students believe the quality of their student accommodation is important or very important to their mental health.

Despite these housing conditions, 21% spend 100% of their maintenance loan on rent. These taxpayer-funded loans are designed to cover all living costs, from monthly rent and food to transport and textbooks, yet these figures reveal that hundreds of thousands of students are forced to spend their entire loan to cover rent on substandard housing. The situation has become more acute with students’ incomes shrinking during the pandemic, whilst the Royal Bank of Scotland has found that the average student rent in the UK has increased by 18% since 2020.

Tom Spencer, a student at City, University of London said: “My experience with student accommodation has been appalling. To save costs, my landlord last year split a room in half, putting up a wall that had a one-inch gap before it reached the ceiling. This meant that I could always hear the student who lived next to me and could never have my own space. To make matters worse, the landlord didn’t upgrade the water tank when he added two more bedrooms so there was never enough water for us all. Amenities like the washing machine went months before being repaired or replaced. My mates also had issues with mould in their rooms. Despite these rubbish conditions, my rent was over £1,500 more than my maintenance loan. Because of these high costs, I have had to rely on my hard-earned savings each year to cover the cost.”

Sol Schlagman, Co-Founder of Stint, commented: “Students having to put up with shoddy housing has always been treated as par for the course and as a bit of a joke. This is a joke that has gone too far. No one should be forced to live in unsafe accommodation, particularly when hundreds of thousands of students are spending their entire maintenance loan on it.

“At a minimum, the Government should protect students by including student landlords in any forthcoming landlord register. This will ensure that landlords are held to account and deliver the housing that the student community deserve.”

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