UCL students launch fresh rent strike

UCL Cut The Rent have announced a new rent strike beginning this week, after management failed to respond to a petition calling for a 10% rent cut.

More than 500 students signed the petition, and a strike will now take place from this term. Exactly how many students will strike is still unclear, but to go ahead there must be a minimum of 200.

Fay Rushton-Ryan, who studies fine art and is taking part in the strike said: “Last year’s concessions are an acknowledgement of a serious problem of affordability at UCL, but they only temporarily and superficially address its symptoms.

“The rent in UCL halls rises every year and the poor conditions of the accommodation stay the same. I and many others are spending the majority, if not all, of our student loans on rent. Only a universal rent cut can solve the problem of unaffordable accommodation at UCL.”

While UCL do have the power to evict striking students, Cut the Rent believe that the negative press this would incur will prevent this from happening. Instead, they say, the worst UCL can do to striking students is fine them £25 for late payment.

Since 2009, rents at UCL have risen by 56%. Cut the Rent claim this has created £16m of profit for UCL, a profit margin of 45%.

Classics student Jack Kershaw said: “I’m rent-striking so future students can study at UCL on the basis of academic ability rather than financial background. We must fight against the social cleansing of our University.”

Last year’s strike led to UCL offering £1m in rent bursaries and subsidies, and also offered a small further rent cut by shortening tenancies by one week. Meanwhile at Goldsmiths, a strike has led to a 35% rent cut.

Rent strikes are spreading across the country this year. Representatives from Cut The Rent groups across the UK have formed campaign group Rent Strike and last year held what is thought to be the first national rent strike training conference.

emma.yeomans@londonstudent.coop Classics student at UCL; news fangirl at London Student. Student Publication Association's Best Reporter 2016.

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