National Student Accommodation Survey 2019 – Results
Find out exactly what other students think about their student accommodation, how much it really costs and more in this full report.
The results are in and you've really let us know what you think about student living in this year's National Student Accommodation Survey!
We can reveal loads of mind-boggling stats from over 2,000 students on everything from how satisfied you are with your housing to the most expensive places in the UK to rent, as always, in an upfront and transparent manner.
Some of you found human faeces in your living room (!), some of you are struggling to make ends meet. 🙁 Here's the full low-down on student living conditions in the UK in 2019.
What’s on this page?
What’s student accommodation really like?
Just over half of all students (54%) rent rooms or houses from private landlords and estate agents. This isn’t a huge surprise given there aren’t usually enough places for everyone in university-owned accommodation (the next most popular choice).
Far fewer students live at home with their parents, or in private halls. By the way, this year is the first time private halls aren’t the most expensive option – and you might be shocked to learn what is.
Students live an average of 20 minutes from their uni – which means that most can save money on transport, great. However, we also heard of some unlucky commuters travelling for two hours to get to their place of study!
Students camped outside estate agents on 31st October waiting for houses to be released on the 1st November, but many good houses had already gone before the 1st.
Competition for decent housing can get spicy. As a result, almost 1 in 5 students start looking for next year’s accommodation in November. That’s up to year in advance for some renters and, with upfront costs, can mean paying a second deposit before you get the first one back.
Here's what you had to say about finding somewhere to live at uni:
- An agency once showed us one house, then tried to get us to sign up to a different property on the same street – they just changed the house numbers around. The really nice one they showed us had been let 3 weeks before.
- Where I am now is fine but it’s 45 minutes by public transport from uni. Any closer to uni is just too expensive.
- It takes 30 minutes to walk to campus – that’s very different from 30 minutes on the bus or train.
- Ugh. My accommodation is awful. It's brand new but the lack of care shown to it and the problems we've had, you'd think it's over 20 years old at least.
- My house is generally pretty nice, but we have a HUGE damp/mould/mildew problem due to it being a Victorian build (like most terrace houses in York).
- Student accommodation is getting more and more expensive and also more luxurious – I would much rather have basic but functional, healthy and cheap accommodation.
How much does student accommodation cost?
The average student rent is £125/week (£541/month). Hang on to your hats: that’s less than last year.
The most expensive rents are in London, where the average is £161/week – though students in the capital can ask for a bigger Maintenance Loan to cover the difference. However, as students tell us every year, other parts of the country can be almost as expensive – without the extra support on offer.
In a blow for affordability, we’ve found that almost half of the UK has average rents higher than the Maintenance Loan on offer. In other words, once you’ve paid rent, you might not have enough left to pay for food or bills.
As these students can testify, juggling the cost of a roof over your head with other basic living expenses can be tricky:
- Had to spend £1,000 of my savings on top of Maintenance Loan to pay rent in 1st-year halls, and had to borrow £400 from my little sister last year to cover a deposit.
- I worked full time for 2 years while living at my parents’ so I could save up some money. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to come to university without it.
- My Maintenance Loan doesn't cover my rent. This semester I needed an extra £300. I have to work to pay rent and eat.
- I now live as an au pair and don't pay rent. I do babysitting and housework for accommodation and food.
- Struggle to afford food, so skip meals etc. to save money. Little money to do anything so social life is barely there.
- I can’t pay rent with just my Student Finance so my parents have to help out and it’s a huge burden on them too.
- Bath is nearly as expensive as London but we get the same Maintenance Loan as someone in Sheffield who pays £70 a week for much nicer housing.
Which accommodation is cheapest?
New starters look away now: first year students pay higher rents.
This does kind of make sense: when you first start uni you’re more concerned with finding ANY accommodation, not necessarily the most affordable.
To help them out, many universities commit to housing first years as a priority. That sounds super helpful, until you realise they charge more: in fact, the average rent in uni accommodation is more expensive than for private halls.
|Living arrangements||Average weekly rent (£)|
What do you get for your money?
Two-thirds of student rents (68%) include at least one bill, meaning one less thing to have to worry about or find the cash for.
If you’re paying higher than average rent without bills, or think you could pay less by sorting your own utilities, this is what to mention when you next negotiate your rent!
What else do you have to pay for?
On top of rent, there's a whole host of other costs you have to shell out for.
The average student needs to drum up deposit cash of £311, plus £119 in admin charges.
If you pay a month’s rent in advance, that may mean handing over an average of £970 before your course starts and Maintenance Loan arrives, or before you get your deposit back on your current property. It could be far more if you’re asked to pay for a whole term or more in advance. Gulp.
If there’s any good news, it’s that the ban on letting fees should see students save around £119 each year. We’ll be keeping a close eye on whether the savings are passed on!
Although some students report that their landlord, university or agent have been helpful, it's hard to ignore the dissatisfaction:
- Washing is way too expensive. We pay so much on rent and we still have to pay around £5 for a wash and dry which adds up to around £15 a week on top of rent.
- We paid one deposit for 2 years. It was carried from one house to the other, and we paid no admin fee because we stayed with the same landlord.
- Uni halls are way too expensive and it's impossible to work enough to pay the rent (having just moved to a new city and needing to find a job).
- Estate agents are the devil. They can shove their admin fees!
Is student accommodation affordable?
More students than ever are struggling to pay rent.
This year, 1 in 2 students (50%) say they struggle to pay rent. This is a staggering number – yet the consequences are even more concerning.
Almost two-thirds of you (63%) say the cost of accommodation negatively affects your mental health. More than a third add that money worries affect their studies. Again, these figures are higher than a year ago.
If students now pay less rent, why do they face greater hardship? Well, what we know is that if you rely on the Maintenance Loan, the money on offer is way too little. The average loan instalment is £125/week – that’s the same as average rent, leaving nothing to cover the other living costs students have to pay for (such as food).
Our findings show very clearly that hardship has a very real impact on health: students’ mental wellbeing gets worse as rent goes up.
|Mental health struggles||Average weekly rent (£)|
|Not at all||115|
Unsurprisingly, 82% of students want to see rents capped in line with Student Finance. Politicians, take note!
Here's what you had to say about the impact of student accommodation costs on mental health:
- A lot of people with mental health issues struggle at university, accommodation being one of the many problems. It doesn't help that there's no support regarding this.
- The general worry about the cost of living as a student has a significant toll on students’ mental health, including my own.
- Refusal to move my accommodation in first year despite mental health issues because the accommodation provider would make less money on the other accommodation.
- I’ve always struggled with my mental health. The university has been helpful with regards to my assignments, however no help gets put in place when struggling with rent.
- Knowing that you might not be able to pay rent on time is a constant anxiety. It would affect anyone’s mental health.
- On Sertraline, an antidepressant, because of stress partly caused by the inability to pay.
How do students pay their rent?
It’s clear that many students feel overwhelmed by the cost of housing – so how do they cope?
The fact is that most students borrow money to pay for accommodation. Parents are the biggest contributor here, with 46% of students saying the bank of mum and dad coughs up the extra cash.
Meanwhile, as many as 40% borrow from a bank (overdraft, loans or credit cards). If that’s you, it’s crucial you understand how debt works or it could end up costing more than you borrow.
How much do parents pay?
If the cost of housing is hard on students, it can be just as tough on their families: parents pay £44/week on average towards student accommodation (that’s £2,288 each year!).
The awful truth is that there’s also a link between how much money struggling students get from parents, and how well they feel they cope at university. Until Student Finance matches living costs more accurately, student wellbeing will continue to suffer.
|Mental health struggles||Average weekly parental contribution (£)|
|Not at all||49|
What issues do student renters face?
Almost every single student tenant (90% of you) has experienced issues with housing. The most common complaints are about fellow housemates: you guys are just too noisy, dirty or dodgy. Get it together!
The most widespread problems, however, fall to landlords and agents – we’re talking mould, damp, and broken heating or hot water supply. Coupled with how long some landlords take to fix issues, we could see thousands of students ready to sue their landlords when new tenancy laws kick in.
Deposit drama is another issue many renters have to deal with: just over 1 in 5 students struggle to get their money back. If that’s you, make sure you know how to protect your cash or fight your case.
The 10 biggest problems for student renters
- Noisy housemates (45%)
- Housemates stealing food (33%)
- Damp (35%)
- Lack of water/heating (32%)
- Disruptive building work (20%)
- Landlord visits (16%)
- Rodents & pests (16%)
- Dangers conditions (5%)
- Burglary (5%)
- Bed bugs (3%)
How long does it take to get problems sorted?
1 in 10 students waits more than a month for resolution (that includes those who never see their issue fixed). While that’s still far too high, it’s a huge improvement since 2018 – and we expect to see even more progress in light of new laws that punish unfair landlords.
Very few students seek legal advice about housing issues (though that may change in future!). Instead, most turn to parents, friends or their uni’s housing service for support.
Despite the slugs, bugs and damp (and perhaps because most landlords now deal with issues faster), most students are satisfied with the quality of their housing.
That said, as the majority of the UK’s students continue to face hardship over housing costs, our final statistic speaks volumes: 1 in 3 renters brand student accommodation poor value for money.
Overall it seems that the standard of student accommodation is... well, substandard:
- Last year I had no hot water for the entire year, I had to boil the kettle and fill up the sink that way to wash my face.
- One time someone excreted in the lounge.
- Broken bathroom window for three weeks during snowy spell last year. We boarded it up ourselves with cardboard and a bin bag.
- Getting E. coli because my flat mates were so dirty in the kitchen.
- People were caught having sex in my roommate’s room and they were not even students at the university.
- Was accused of smoking, as when the landlord turned up one day she said my room smelled of smoke. I have never smoked in my life.
- In first year, my cupboard fell off the wall on top of me and the halls of residence tried to charge me for repairs.
- Our maintenance request system lets us see issues raised by previous tenants and therefore we can see our broken corridor light has been faulty for two years.
- The amount of mould was ridiculous to the point it was on my mattress and pillow. Turned out it was because there was a 1/2 inch wide hole running along my outside wall.
- Charging £450 per person for dirty, run-down houses with no bills included and making us wait weeks for them to resolve any issues we are having. It should be criminal.
What do the experts say?
Save the Student
Jake Butler, our student money expert, says:
I always hear people saying that poor living conditions are part of being a student and it really angers me.
Student accommodation isn't cheap and every house should be up to a liveable standard.
The cost of student living is enough to put students under stress, as this year's survey shows, so the added pressure of damp, mould, rats and more has the potential to have a massively negative impact.
Student housing resources
Need to find (or keep) a roof over your head, or want the facts about student money? These free tools will walk you through the essentials:
- Student rent calculator
- Parental contribution calculator
- National Student Money Survey
- 22 ways to save money on renting
About the National Student Accommodation Survey 2019
Want to know more about the survey, or need case studies, comments or quotes? We’re happy to help – just drop us a line.
You’re welcome to reference or re-use data from the survey with credit and a link back to the site: "Source: The National Student Accommodation Survey 2019 / www.savethestudent.org"
Survey polled 2,196 students in the UK in January 2019.