The biggest student rent strike the UK has ever seen is happening right now
More than 1,000 students are refusing to pay their rent this month in what has been called the "largest student rent strike in British history."
The strike – which officially started three months ago as a 150-strong collective of unhappy UCL students – has just exceeded the 1,000 striker mark, as hundreds of Goldsmiths students also withhold their rent payments this month.
The strike has caught fire across a number of London universities as calls went out to encourage students with the same "impossible" rent situations to come forward and take part in the strike.
Shelly Asquith, vice president of welfare at NUS has commented:
Having exhausted other tactics, the students on rent strike are withholding their payments collectively, and the more student tenants who join them, the stronger the chances of winning.
Students from University of Roehampton, Courtauld Institute of Art, University College London and Goldsmiths are now all taking part in a collective stand against high rent prices and poor living standards in London uni halls.
It’s now thought that striking students are withholding a combined total of around £1 million from their universities this month, in the effort to demand prices are lowered.
Why are students striking?
Rent prices in London continue to soar across the city, and unfortunately university-owned accommodation is no exception.
At UCL, student hall rents have risen 56% since 2010. You can now expect to pay a minimum of £206.29 per week/ £828 per month for a catered room at Ramsay Halls, the uni’s largest student accommodation.
To put this into context, this means any student receiving even the highest rate of maintenance loan available to London-based students will still be left with only £12.86 per week after paying their rent.*
UCL’s Director of Estates, Andrew Grainger responded publicly to the strike a while ago by saying:
Some people just simply cannot afford to study in London and that is just a fact of life.
Should studying in London be an experience reserved for students with families able to financially support them and those willing take on the additional debt on top of their £9,000 per year tuition fees?
Or should any student have the right to be able to study in London, regardless of their financial situation? Let us know your thoughts!
Why Goldsmiths have joined the strike
Credit: Goldsmiths, Cut the Rent
A Facebook organisation dubbed 'Goldsmiths, Cut the Rent' has been created in response to what one student referred to as "impossible rents and unacceptable conditions" in Goldsmiths student halls.
These including the following:
- Average student rental prices are £150 per week/ £600 per month, which is higher than the market rate for the area
- They believe students should be entitled to accommodation that meets standards set by housing charity, Shelter (which it currently doesn’t)
- Complaints of sub-standard living conditions that include rat infestations, sewage problems, persistent lack of heating, water and WIFI
- Complaints of unresponsive or “inappropriate” staff responses to complaints when these issues occur
Last year, UCL reportedly paid out £300,000 in compensation to students who were living with rat infestations and other sub-standard living conditions in their student accommodation.
Have you experienced similar issues in your student halls? Find out how to claim compensation from your university.
*This figure is based on the maximum available maintenance loan of £8,009 plus the current maximum grant of £3,387 available to London-based students (the latter of which will be scrapped in September 2016).