Here’s how to get involved with TODAY’s student rent protests
Ever wondered why you pay such high rents for such little luxury in student accommodation? Us too. But today, students are taking action.
Students across the country are today getting involved in a 'Day of Action' to protest against ridiculously high rent costs at uni.
Too often, Maintenance Loans fall short of covering student living costs, making it incredibly difficult to meet the monthly cost of rent. Our latest National Student Money Survey found that the average student is spending £267 a month more than they're receiving in their Maintenance Loan, with 53% of monthly living costs going towards rent.
When you then factor in the poor living conditions of many students' houses, it's no wonder people are taking action. Read on to find out how to voice your concerns and join the campaign.
Student living conditions in the UK
We've heard some pretty shocking stories about the poor state of student accommodation – like this one, which could well be the world's worst student house.
Many people almost take it as a given that their student home's going to be a bit grim... but when you're forking out hundreds of pounds each month, should that really be the case?
There's a huge concern that some landlords are taking advantage of students not knowing their tenancy rights and charging unfair prices for inadequate living conditions.
Why are students taking action over rent?
Today's Day of Action is being led by Rent Strike, a campaign group calling for fairer rent and better living conditions for students.
Within Rent Strike are smaller campaign groups (usually called 'Cut the Rent') who are based on campuses across the UK. Each Cut the Rent group will have different things planned for the day, so it's worth checking the social media of your uni's one.
You can see which universities have a Cut the Rent group on Rent Strike's website.
We spoke to a third-year student from King's College London (KCL), who's an activist with the Rent Strike Campaign group.
The activist has been involved in the organisation of today's Day of Action and, speaking about their own experiences of renting as a student, they told us:
Like most students I know, I have been forced out of permanent residence over the ridiculously high rent costs that are levied against us.
On multiple occasions, I have gone weeks without a permanent address while attempting to find accommodation within my budget.
During my first year, the rent of my university-recommended student residence exceeded £200 a week. You simply can't cover that with a Maintenance Loan alone.
NUS's Vice President (Welfare), Eva Crossan Jory, is supporting today's Day of Action over student rents. She said:
Housing has been an issue for students for a very long time.
From affordable housing to the state of living conditions, students often are bearing the brunt of student accommodation being run for profit and not for students.
We have seen the effect high rent prices have on students' welfare, from the stress placed on them by having to work two or three part-time jobs to afford to pay their rent, through to isolation from not being able to afford to live nearby or with friends.
We agree – the pressure and cost of university can be difficult enough without having to pay high rent for inadequate housing.
If you'd like to get involved in the campaign against unfair student rent, read on for more info about today's Day of Action...
What to expect from the Day of Action
We asked some of the people involved in today's Day of Action what we can expect. Here's what they said...
The KCL student told us:
The Rent Strike Day of Action has been built up to for months, and is the combined effort of students across the country.
In a mixture of direct disruption and indirect actions like pestering and banner drops, we hope to spread awareness of how systemic issues with rent costs can be addressed on a local level and challenge the idea that students merely have to put up with it.
We also spoke to a representative from the Cut the Rent group at UCL who said:
UCL Cut the Rent will be taking action against UCL senior management [today] due to their disgraceful exploitation of students through high rents.
In five years, the rent at UCL increased by 56%, and UCL continues to make upwards of £16 million profit from student rents a year, whilst leaving many low-income halls in systemic disrepair.
University accommodation must be run for students, by students.
We've already got strong support for our campaign this year, and unless UCL takes serious action, our actions will only escalate.
And, Eva Crossan Jory from NUS told us:
Students on campuses across the country will be taking various actions to fight back against unaffordable rent and dodgy conditions in student accommodation.
NUS is supporting the Day of Action, and if you want to get involved, be sure to contact your Students' Union or local Cut the Rent group.
Some students have taken VERY creative approaches to avoid high rent – like these students, who live on a houseboat in London.