"Rip-off" student accommodation is leaving tenants battling horrific conditions, unaffordable rents and poor mental health, a report has found.
The National Student Accommodation Survey 2019 found overpriced and unsafe student housing, with 90 per cent reporting a problem with their accommodation.
A third of students surveyed reported living with damp, or without hot water and heating, while one in ten of all students who reported an issue, said they wait for more than a month for resolution of their problem - with many of them never reaching a resolution. Almost one in five shares a home with slugs, rodents or bed bugs, while noisy flatmates who also steal food from the shared kitchen also cause problems for many students.
The pressure to find decent homes is so high at many universities that one in three students begins looking for next year’s accommodation in or before November - just weeks after the start of the academic year. The average student has to pay out £311 in a deposit, plus £119 in admin charges to secure their property.
Two-thirds of students say housing costs have affected their mental health, while 37 per cent say they have affected their studies. Students in Scotland pay an average of £110 per week - lower than the national average of £165. The average cost of university-owned accommodation is higher than that of private halls or properties.
Jake Butler, student money expert from Save the Student, which carried out the research, said: “Too many people - including students - seem to believe that poor living conditions are just a part of student life.Our investigation confirms how students are being unfairly treated as if second-class citizens, expected to put up with dire conditions throughout their studies. It’s even more outrageous considering the sums of money being handed over to landlords.
Kelly-Anne Watson, delivery officer for student housing charity Unipol, said: "It’s imperative for ourselves, universities, and students unions to be educating students on their rights and to give well informed advice on housing. We must work collectively as a sector to improve standards and make sure that there are a range of varied rents for students to choose from, so there are not further barriers into education."
The study also found that over one in five of the 2,196 students interviewed UK-wide. struggle to get their money back from deposits at the end of their tenancy.