'No water and rodents' among student housing gripes

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance reporter

Student studyingImage source, Getty Images

A third of UK students have gone without heating or running water in their properties, a survey has suggested.

The state of accommodation is among a list of 10 biggest concerns among young tenants, the survey of 2,196 students by website Save the Student suggests.

But noisy housemates remains the biggest gripe in the annual survey.

It also highlights concerns about the cost of living away from home for the first time.

The findings suggested that typical upfront costs, including fees, the deposit, and a month's rent in advance, totalled £970.

Average rent stood at about £125 a week, of which parents contribute an average of £44. One in five students receive more than £100 a week from parents to help cover the cost.

Two in five turned to overdrafts, loans, and credit cards to pay the rental bill, Save the Student said.

Previous research by student housing charity Unipol and the National Union of Students suggested that the average price of student accommodation in the UK had risen by nearly a third in six years.

Where to go for help

About 30% of those asked had started to look for the following academic year's lodgings by November in an attempt to find a decent deal and to spread the cost over time.

In addition to the cost, poor conditions in student accommodation were a major concern.

One student in Portsmouth said that on the day she moved in there was no front door on the property and there was no heating for two months. Another in Newcastle said she had no hot water for the entire year.

"I had to boil the kettle and fill up the sink that way to wash my face," she said.

Image caption,
Jake Butler wants it to be easier for students to resolve issues

Damp, a lack of water or heating, disruptive building work, and rodents and pests all featured in the top 10 list of complaints, according to the Save the Student survey.

Jake Butler, from Save the Student, said: "Too many people - including students - seem to believe that poor living conditions are just a part of student life.

"While the laws around renting are constantly improving there needs to be a much easier way for students to report and resolve problems with their accommodation."

Updated legislation, which takes effect on 20 March, is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and strengthens tenants' means of redress against landlords who fail to keep their properties safe.