A new study by the National Union of Students (NUS) has revealed that over three quarters of students are unsatisfied with the conditions of their home.
‘Homes fit for study’ revealed that over half of the students that took part have condensation, almost half have mould, and a quarter have slug and mouse infestations.
Over half have had problems with contacting landlords and having repairs sorted. The research also showed that over a third of students are getting into debt in order to pay the upfront fee that ensures them a property. Over a fifth of students are borrowing money from friends, family and partners in order to meet initial housing costs. A third also struggle with energy bills, and a quarter are unaware of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
The NUS commented that an end to letting fees would ensure that students know more about the cost of renting, enabling them to budget better. They are also calling for proper regulation of letting agents.
NUS Vice President (Welfare), Colum McGuire, said: “Although there’s a commonly held perception that poor quality student housing is a rite of passage, it is both disgusting and unacceptable that students should live in vermin infested housing in this day and age. “Our research has raised alarming health and safety issues and we are calling for more effective enforcement of standards to ensure students’ homes are fit for study.” The NUS is urging the Government to ensure that local councils have the resources to deal with local housing issues. 41 per cent of students surveyed only started looking for a house because they were scared of not having one, and 21 per cent signed their contracts seven or more months before moving in. This can become an issue if a friendship group changes, or if students drop out of university.
Chief Executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb said: “No one should be forced to live in a home that is a danger to their health and wellbeing – so these findings are shocking. “We hear from young people every day living in unsafe rented homes, dealing with rogue landlords, struggling to pay sky-high rents, or paying out hundreds in unfair letting fees. This can’t carry on. The government must do more to improve our broken rental market, and make sure that every landlord provides the safe and decent home that we all deserve.” The study showed that only a third of students used house hunting services provided by their university or students’ union, and many turned to friends and family for housing issues instead of official services. With the help of the NUS, student unions will work closely with their institutions to improve student experiences, using initiatives such as accreditation schemes. The 6,696 responses to the survey were gathered from students currently in higher education in the UK.