From the lap of luxury to rat-infested squalor, students across the UK reveal what rented accommodation is really like.
We received a huge variety of experiences and opinions, some of which are either made us really angry on your behalf, or just made our skin crawl…
Unfortunately, while loads of you are quite content with your accommodation, too many are paying over the odds for leaky, cold or rat-infested housing – and some of it is run by the university you’re already paying thousands in fees to!
If you’re not shocked yet, you will be: here’s the state of the nation’s homes – as told by students.
Almost half of you (47%) rent from private landlords, while another third get a place in uni accommodation. Both are established choices for student housing, so should be good options for safety and standards – which makes our findings on maintenance even more shocking!
Student Living Arrangements
Despite the party hard ‘n’ Pot Noodle clichés of student life, lots of you told us you prefer a bit of peace and quiet – but your house mates don’t always make it easy. Top complaints include other tenants being loud, dirty or messy, nicking food or just being “weird flat mates”.
Student accommodation is definitely a shared affair, with the typical household having 5 renters apiece, although the longer you’re at uni, the fewer folk you tend to live with. We’re joining the dots and thinking it may have something to do with the obnoxious food-stealing monsters you’ve been cohabiting with!
While the average student rent comes in at £125/week (around £535 a month), where you live in the UK makes a massive difference!
Unsurprisingly, the highest rents are in London, where students pay a whopping £182/wk each. Bargains are easier to come by in Northern Ireland, where you can keep a roof over your head for just £91/wk – that’s half the London average!
The happy news is that most rents include bills of some kind, meaning less to spend on gas/electricity, water or broadband. Just a third of you have to shell out for extras separately.
UK Student rent by location (prices per week)
If you want to save on rent, the advice is clear: live with your folks! Students who live with their parents or other family say they pay just £46/wk for the privilege (although some of you add that it’s at the cost of privacy, independence and a social life).
The most expensive rents are to be found in swanky private halls, although – at around £146/wk – they’re just a tenner a week more than average uni rents. With private halls often throwing in gym use and luxury fittings, is it time for uni accommodation to start delivering more for the cost?
What about upfront costs?
Talk of banning letting agency fees will be welcome news to students: 8 out of 10 of you currently pay fees of some kind upfront. According to government figures, that could mean having to find an extra £200 or more before you can move in. In the meantime, what you’re charged is at least getting more transparent, with just 7% of you saying fees weren’t clear.
Most of you are also expected to find a deposit to secure accommodation: around £360 each on average.
What’s most worrying is that students are expected to put down hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds up front for accommodation at the start of the year, and often well before your first loan instalment lands. Save yourself the stress, and plan where the cash will come from as early as possible!
We asked you for the worst aspects of rented accommodation, and you weren’t shy about shouting up! Almost two-thirds of you (65%) said you’ve been bugged by serious accommodation issues in your current gaff.
The worst offenders include damp, safety concerns, lack of water/heating, and all kinds of uninvited guests from slugs and bed bugs to rats (and even landlords, agents or maintenance crew showing up without notice).
Student household issues
Damp might seem more annoying than dangerous, but NHS advice warns that, “if you have damp and mould you’re more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system.”
If you’re stuck with damp, don’t just keep schtum. Report it (in writing each time if you can), take photos, and get advice from your uni or SU welfare or accommodation teams. If you’re not sure of your rights, housing charity Shelter has top advice that may help.
How long does it take to get problems sorted?
The most concerning thing we heard is the number of complaints being ignored by landlords, even in university accommodation. Loads of you told us you’ve reported issues that affect your health or safety – including gas leaks, severe damp, and broken plumbing – but, shockingly, 1 in 4 complaints never get fixed at all!
To add to this we also found that only 21% of issues were resolved within 24 hours and close to 50% of issues take over a week to get sorted!
Despite the high number of complaints – and lack of help getting them sorted – 1 in 5 of you then struggle to get your deposit back later on. Total cheek!
Don’t be shy about kicking up a stink if your accommodation isn’t up to scratch, especially if it’s dangerous or affects your quality of life or ability to study.
While we’re not saying you should go on rent strike when the jacuzzi’s on the blink, your home should be fit for purpose (and for the rent you’re paying!). Make sure you know how to safeguard your deposit in the meantime: it’s valuable collateral!
A small number of students we heard from already own their own home, and pay less each week towards their accommodation as a result (£109/wk, compared to the £125 average rent).
Obviously home owners also have to find a deposit and stump up for insurance and maintenance costs – but that doesn’t put off the rest of you, who reckon you’ll have a place of your own by the time you’re in your 30s. Some of you even plan on being home owners in your early 20s – but given the state of rented accommodation, we don’t blame you for dreaming big!
Unluckily, though, just 1 in 10 of you have heard of the Lifetime ISA (LISA), a tax-free savings account that can help you put down a deposit on a house.
Now, we’re thinking this is probably because savings are low priority when you’re strapped for cash, but with the government throwing free money into the LISA you need to get clued up now rather than missing out later on. Naturally we’ve broken it down so you know exactly how to go about it: get your smug on here!
Our editor Jake Butler comments:
There were tons of stories, tips, complaints and advice you wanted to share: keep ‘em coming! Leave us a comment below, or post us your pics on Facebook.
In the meantime, whether you need help getting your deposit back or playing nice with your house mates, bookmark our housing help so you’ve got it when you need it. If you’re having a really rough time and your landlord or housing agency is giving you grief, give us a shout. We may be able to tell your story for you – and it’s funny how a bit of publicity can suddenly get things sorted!