Damp, inadequate insulation, and rodent infestation are a common experience for students in university housing, according to a recent NUS survey.
The data was produced from a representative sample of 6,696 responses with some 2,870 respondents living in the private rented sector, and reveals a stark picture of general conditions in the private rented sector. 76% of respondents reported at least one issue with their rented home.
The most cited complaints included condensation, which was experienced by 52% of students surveyed. 47% experienced mould and another 41% complained that their housing had a problem with damp . While some may be completely unaffected by mould or damp, others may be more vulnerable to developing health problems as a result of it.
High levels of mould and damp if left unattended can lead to respiratory illnesses and allergic reactions such as ‘red eye’ and skin irritation. In more extreme cases, it can contribute to asthma attacks.
Nearly a quarter of respondents reported some form of vermin infestation. The results clearly show how poor-quality housing has had an effect on the lifestyles of student renters, with 40% saying that they have spent more time than they desired on university campuses because their accommodation was poorly heated; half of the respondents had reservations over the quality of insulation for in their homes.
The NUS survey responses also indicate that levels of communication and general openness between actors could do with major improvement. 53% of the student respondents reported that they had experienced delays in the carrying out of essential repair work, 34% confirming that they had experienced difficulty in contacting their own landlord or letting agent.
Further adding to the frustration felt due to the dysfunctional relationship with their landlord or agent, 26% of the survey participants complained that their landlord or agent had entered their accommodation without reasonable notice or permission.
A large number of students also reported higher levels of negative experiences whilst securing accommodation through a letting agent.
This particular group was more likely to express dissatisfaction with their property during the tenancy once they moved in. In the last academic year, poor conditions including infestations and noise at UCL and SOAS halls led to major rent strike campaigns.