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Student Accommodation

Top 10 student housing problems revealed

We've all heard student housing horror stories, but what are the real issues? We asked over 2,000 of you to find out...

student housing problems UK

Credit: Wolfstudiobkk (left), Cegli (right) - Shutterstock

New research by the Save the Student has revealed the top 10 biggest issues students face when renting private accommodation at university – and top of the list is noisy housemates.

We asked 2,000 students about their experience with accommodation for our annual 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, one in three students said they were affected by damp or lack of heating/hot water. This is all comes as rent costs are eating up the vast majority of student Maintenance Loans!

Worst student housing issues

student housing problems

Credit: Shane Gorski - Flickr

Here are your top 10 housing headaches...

  1. Noisy housemates (45%)
  2. Housemates stealing food (33%)
  3. Damp (35%)
  4. Lack of water/heating (32%)
  5. Disruptive building work (20%)
  6. Inappropriate landlord visits (16%)
  7. Rodents & pests (16%)
  8. Dangerous living conditions (5%)
  9. Break-in or burglary (5%)
  10. Bed bugs (3%)

With many students living in large groups, often with five to seven housemates, it’s no surprise that noisy housemates topped the list. Add stress, deadlines and alcohol to the mix, and tensions often start to fray.

But if you think things are bad, just be thankful you’re not this poor housemate:

One time someone excreted in the lounge.


But the poor quality of student housing in the UK is evident in just how many students are affected by shoddy living conditions.

Damp and a lack of hot water/heating aren’t just housing headaches: they can seriously affect the health of inhabitants, causing coughs, chest infections and throat irritation, not to mention how detrimental they can be to mental health too.

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

Landlords failing to act

student landlords

Credit: Manchesterphotos - Wikimedia

The problem isn’t just that these problems exist in the first place, it’s also that they often go unresolved for long periods of time. Many of you reported that landlords fail to take you seriously as students, and 55% said household issues take longer than a week to resolve.

Always keep communication with your landlord in writing – even if you have a phone call, send a follow-up email summarising the main points discussed. This avoids any confusion and makes things easier if you do need to seek external help or take legal action.

Even worse than this, one in ten students are waiting over a month for issues to be sorted out, while 4% said problems are never fixed. Here are just a few of the quotes from this year's survey:

- 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.

- [We had a] broken bathroom window for three weeks during snowy spell last year. We boarded it up ourselves with cardboard and a bin bag.

- 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.

Where to seek housing advice

student housing advice

Often students think that as soon as they move out of university halls into private accommodation they’re on their own, and 38% turn to parents for advice on housing problems.

While universities must do much more to proactively help students struggling with their landlords, there are a whole host of support networks out there able to support you when you need it most. Here's just a few:

  • Most universities will give advice on private housing issues, and student unions offer guidance on landlord problems as part of their student 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
  • If you want to take things further, there’s also the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, your local council or the Property Ombudsman who'll be able to advise you further on your legal options
  • If you’re not sure where to turn first, housing charity Shelter will advise you on your rights and the most appropriate cause of action
  • Finally, help other tenants by giving your landlord a review! Some universities or areas will have their own specific websites for this, but the likes of Marks out of Tenancy and Rental Raters are nationwide services which allow you to review your experience with a landlord or letting agent.
No matter what happens, make sure you know your rights as a tenant so you're aware of what your landlord can and can't do.

Housemates have come up top trumps as the trickiest part of student accommodation, so here's how to deal with them!


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