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One in five students live in vermin infested homes

Wednesday 19 March 2014 Welfare and Student Rights

NUS has published new research ‘Homes fit for study’ which revealed that over three quarters of students have a problem with the condition of their home.

Over half have condensation; almost half have mould, and a quarter have slugs, mice or another infestation in their current home.

Added to these grim health and safety concerns, over a third of students are getting into debt to meet upfront costs to secure a property. The same amount struggle with energy bills, with almost a quarter unaware of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

NUS is calling for proper regulation of letting agents as well as proposing that an end to letting fees, as has happened in Scotland, would ensure that students have a better idea of the overall cost of renting in the private sector and can then budget accordingly.

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.”

Local housing issues, such as mice infestations, fall under the remit of local government and NUS is urging Government to ensure that local councils have the resource and capacity to deal with this. 

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.”

After choosing a place of study, where a student will live is the most important decision for university life. However only a third of students used house-hunting services provided by their university or students’ union, and only eight per cent had found a property on their institution’s housing list.

NUS will be supporting students’ unions to work more closely with their institutions to improve students’ experiences and empower them as tenants. The research shows that initiatives such as accreditation schemes can make a real difference to students’ experiences and both unions and universities need to work together to ensure housing support is high on the agenda.

Housing report cover

Download the Homes Fit For Study report here.

Housing infographic thumbnail

Download the infographic here.