Student housing hell: A quarter of student houses are infested with vermin, claims NUS


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The Independent Online

One in four student homes are infested with vermin, a shocking new NUS study has revealed.

Almost two thirds (61 per cent), meanwhile, were forced to live with damp, mould or condensation in their home according to the survey, which asked nearly 3,000 students about their experiences in privately rented accommodation.

These housing issues were aggravated by financial problems, with 39 per cent reporting that they struggled with energy bills. To cope with this, two thirds resorted to wearing extra layer of clothing to bed, and 40 per cent chose to spend more time in university buildings to stay warm. And those renting from a letting agent paid an average of £400 to set up their tenancy.

Students flocked to Twitter to share their experiences of living in unpleasant private accommodation using the #housinghell hashtag.

Haley Bell reported “mould, damp, poor ventilation, radiator in my bedroom broke during exam time in winter, took a week and half to fix :(“

“Mice living in our house, EHO wouldn't come to investigate! Forced to find replacement tenants before we could leave” said Giorgio Cassella.

“Landlord charged us £10 to remove a lamp. It was his lamp listed on the inventory! Oh and the wall fell in on the first day” added Chelsea Worth.

These findings come as part of an NUS campaign for proper regulation of letting agents, as well as proposing an end to letting fees.

The NUS’ vice president for welfare, Colum McGuire, believes students put up with poor housing unreasonably.

He 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.”

Morẹnikẹ Adebayo, 23, and studying at the University of York, said: “We started having issues with appliances that were advertised as part of the house. The dishwasher overflowed and shorted the house several times, causing the lightbulbs to break spontaneously at any moment.

“After repetitively trying to notify the landlady of this – she fobbed us off with excuses for five months -  she has now said that the part that would need to be replaced is too costly to get so we'll just have to do without.”

The NUS has created a list of recommendations for the Government to safeguard students from housing problems like these, which include banning letting agent fees and undertaking research to see whether more can be done to protect deposits.

The report suggests also that the government fund councils more to prevent and end infestations.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins told the BBC “We have given councils £4 million to tackle the small minority of rogue landlords, and will be requiring letting agents to belong to redress schemes, so students will have somewhere to complain if they get a poor deal.”

"However, we need to get the balance right, as excessive regulation would simply force up student rents."