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Student Accommodation

Worst student housing problems revealed

We've all heard student housing horror stories, but what are the real issues? We asked students from all over the country to find out...

frustrated woman in front of terrace houses

Credit: Tom Falcon Harding (background), Luis Molinero (woman) – Shutterstock

New research by Save the Student has revealed the most common issues students face when renting private accommodation at university – and it's clear that things aren't in a good way.

We asked over 1,800 people about their experience with accommodation for our National Student Accommodation Survey, and you guys revealed just how bad the state of student housing in the UK is.

From mouldy walls to rodent infestations, student houses are troubled by some seriously dodgy issues. Most worryingly, around one in three students said they were affected by damp.

Feel like you're being ripped off? Here are the average rent costs at universities across the UK.

Worst student housing issues

Here are the worst student accommodation issues:

  1. Damp (36%)
  2. Lack of water or heating (29%)
  3. Rodents and pests (17%)
  4. Disruptive building work (15%)
  5. Inappropriate/unannounced landlord visits (14%)
  6. Smoke or carbon monoxide alarms not working (10%)
  7. Dangerous living conditions (9%)
  8. Bed bugs (7%)
  9. Break-ins or burglaries (6%)
  10. Other (2%)

It's incredibly concerning that over one-third of students in the accommodation survey said their property had damp.

But that's far from the only issue students are dealing with in their own homes. 29% had experienced a lack of water or heating, while 15% had to put up with disruptive building work.

As well as this, 17% had to contend with rodents and pests. This is something we discuss in detail in episode one of our podcast, as one of the Save the Student team was unfortunate enough to share a flat with German cockroaches.

These issues are a strain on students' mental health, but that's not all. Rodents and other pests pose an obvious threat to hygiene, while damp and a lack of hot water/heating can seriously affect the health of inhabitants, causing coughs, chest infections and throat irritation.

Take a look inside one of the worst student houses we've ever seen.

Student landlords failing to act

terraced houses

Credit: BerndBrueggemann – Shutterstock

The issue isn't just that these problems exist in the first place, it's also that they often go unresolved for long periods of time. In fact, 31% of students in the survey said household issues take longer than a week to resolve.

This includes 5% who said their problems have never been fixed.

Here are just a few of the quotes from this year's survey which reveal that it's not just private landlords who are neglecting their responsibilities:

  • University is expensive and the accommodation is a con. I am supposed to be in catered accommodation but we don't get enough lunch allowance for the whole week and breakfast is not available for long enough in the morning. I have mould in my room and can't control my heating. (Uni accommodation)
  • The house is not worth the money. [There are] so many problems that aren't being resolved. (Private landlord)
  • They make it so impossible to leave your accommodation, even if you have left your course. Student accommodation (especially private halls) is not remotely good value for money. (Private halls)
  • The cost of renting, given the poor value [for] money, combined with the stress of university has made me question if it's worth it. (Private landlord)

Taking all this into account, it's hardly a surprise to learn that 41% do not view their student accommodation as good value for money.

Where to seek housing advice

As many as 56% of students turn to parents for advice on housing problems. But, while they may be able to offer some advice from their own experiences (or provide a more authoritative voice to scare a landlord/estate agent into action), there are plenty of expert sources that provide free information and guidance too.

Here are some places to turn to for info and advice on housing issues:

  • Your university – Most universities will give advice on private housing issues, and student unions offer guidance on landlord problems as part of their advice centre. These services often also offer to check over your tenancy agreement for free, flagging up any issues which might affect you further down the line.
  • Legal advice – If you want to take things further, there's also Citizens Advice, your local council or the Property Ombudsman who'll be able to advise you further on your legal options.
  • Shelter – If you're not sure where to turn, housing charity Shelter can advise you on your rights and the most appropriate course of action.
  • Landlord reviews – This last one may not be a source of advice for you, but you can help other tenants by giving your landlord a review. Some universities or areas will have their own specific websites for this, but sites like Marks out of Tenancy will allow you to review your experience with a landlord or letting agent.

We also asked students what the most annoying housemate habits are...


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