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17th August 2015

Student accommodation reaches breaking point as half of students struggle with rent

In the three years between 2010 and 2013, student rent prices rose at almost double the rate of the wider rental market. The NUS is calling for rent controls to combat the “crisis”

The NUS have called the state of student housing a “crisis” and called for controls on rent as data shows rent prices skyrocketing and half of students struggling to pay.

Between 2010 and 2013, general rent prices nationwide rose by 13 per cent. Student housing charity Unipol has revealed that student rent prices rose in those three years by 25 per cent. Unipol will be releasing further data in November, expected show a further rise of seven per cent.

“Students are facing a housing crisis with an ever-narrowing gap between their incomes and what they are expected to pay in rent,” Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice-President of welfare, told The Observer. “There needs to be enforced rent controls to put an end to this.

“Universities have failed to secure affordable accommodation and have either invested in expensive stock themselves or sold off old stock to private developers. It has become such an explosive market and is cutting huge amounts of poorer students out of university.”

Housing charity Shelter released data to The Observer, showing that 50 per cent of students struggle to pay their rent, and 40 per cent have resorted to borrowing money to fund their living costs.

“Sadly, it is no surprise that, with sky-high rents, students are struggling to find accommodation in the private rental sector,” said Roger Harding, Director of Communications, Policy and Campaigns at Shelter. “And even when people do find somewhere, we too often hear from students dealing with issues like poor conditions, unprotected deposits and unfair terms in tenancy agreements.”

For a single room, the cheapest that the University of Manchester offers is a no-basin room in Oak House for £92 a week. This totals £3700 per year, hardly lower than the lowest maintenance loan allowance—given to students from households earning over £62000—which stands at £3731 for the 2015/16 academic year.

“The past few years have seen huge growth in ‘luxury’ student accommodation, and it is not coincidental that this has come at the same time as the increased marketisation of higher education,” said Tom Robinson, Welfare and International Officer at University College London Union.

“It is symptomatic of a society that sees education not as a right and a social good, but as an investment in future career options, and the ‘student experience’ as a package to be sold to entice whoever is able to pay the most money.”

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