New ‘Rent Strike’ website fighting back against rising rents in university halls

A new online resource aims to counter the problem of rising rents in student housing. Drawing on the experience of previous campaigns, offers advice, testimony and support for potential activists.

Setup up by the group Rent Strike, the website aims to support students in their fight for better quality housing at accessible prices. It draws from the experiences of previous rent strike campaigns such as at UCL.

The protests launched by the Cut The Rent (CTR) group at UCL in 2016, culminated in a successful settlement with the UCL management. Changes were made to the university’s accommodation budget, including rent freezes equating to around £258,000.

Similar campaigns were also seen at other London universities with active CTR groups organising at KCL and Goldsmiths. In total there are 11 CTR groups across the country. 

The website is a coordinating platform for all the CTR groups to consolidate and strengthen their campaigns. It provides all the necessary information that active groups and potential activists would need to launch their own rent strike. Sections include advice on how to negotiate with management, canvass support among students and remain within the confines of the law. 

The decreasing quality of student housing paralleled with an increase in  prices has made the issues raised by Rent Strike more important than ever. 

Rent Strike told London Student, “We think that students, through their involvement in CTR groups, can more easily transition from organizing in the student sector to the private sector.”

The end goal is to generate more awareness and allow the experience that students gain from organizing at universities to create a “culture of tenants’ union” that can be taken “outside of the university to private landlords.”

Students have had to bear the brunt of rises in rent since the government cut back funding for university accommodation in 2010. These policy changes have resulted in the commercialisation of student halls with private businesses taking more of a central role in their provision.

While Rent Strike strives to decrease rent to a rate that is viable for students, their long-term goal is to not only bring an end to this trend of commercialisation, but to seek justice for all the tenants in UK.

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