We’ve all heard horror stories about uni accommodation, but we can now reveal the realities of student living – from the sublime to the ridiculous.
This year’s National Student Accommodation Survey received over 2,000 responses from students, giving us a ring-side seat in the UK student housing arena.
Here we reveal plenty of interesting insights, some more worrying than others… Two of the prominent themes this year are: costs are brutal and horrible housemates aren’t helping!
As always our findings are presented transparently, unflinching and as told by students.
When it comes to student accommodation, most of you tend to either rent from private landlords (half) or live in university accommodation (a third).
1 in 10 of you plump for private halls (which charge slightly more than the going rate) while just 8% take the cheapest route and opt to stay at home.
Wherever students choose to live, most get a reasonable deal on location: the average journey to campus takes just 20 minutes. Results do vary, of course! Unsurprisingly, those in London travel almost 10 minutes more than the average UK student.
Ultimately, however, more than a third of you reckon you’re not getting value for money. We’ll come back to that!
Here are just a few of your comments on the realities of student accommodation:
Shockingly, 44% of students struggle to keep up with the rent. Most worryingly, 45% say the cost of accommodation impacts mental health, while 31% find their studies are affected too.
In a nutshell? You guys are stressed out and not impressed. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone: a support strategy and extra funding can help!
But what are the stories behind the numbers? Here’s what some students have to say about making ends meet:
The UK national average for student rent swings in at a hefty £130.59/wk – that’s around £566/mth. The really bad news? The average Maintenance Loan payment comes in at just £138.85/wk, leaving next to nothing for all your other costs (like eating!) .
So it’s perhaps no surprise that 83% of students would like to see rents capped according to what’s on offer in student funding.
The cost of rent varies massively depending on where you study. London remains the priciest place to find student digs, with average rents reaching £222/wk – that’s more than 1.5x the national average. Cheapest by a country mile is Northern Ireland, with an average rent of just £71/wk.
If there’s a ray of sunshine in this year’s stats, it’s that student rents often come bundled with bills – 68% of have bagged inclusive deals. Worth bearing in mind next time you negotiate your rent!
Interestingly, broadband is increasingly a standard in student homes, with 52% of students saying it’s included in the rent. If there’s a warning, though, it’s that inclusive rents may not always save you money if you could grab cheaper bills on the side.
The majority of students have letting or agency fees to pay on top of rent, coming in at an average of £208. These aren’t always transparent, however – 16% of you say fees weren’t clear when you signed your contract.
Coughing up for the deposit is still a bone of contention. Not only does the average deposit come in at £301, but 1 in 5 students struggle to get it back. Don’t let that be you!
Agencies and landlords seem to be a real issue for students, as these stories can testify:
Considering the high cost of student accommodation, crummy conditions and long-term complaints are still way too common. Damp or lack of heating/hot water affects 1 in 3 students, while disruptive building work is a headache for 1 in 5.
The biggest surprise this year is that the number one issue for student renters is the people you live with: half of all of you have horrible housemates, and it can mean stress, sleepless nights and slanging matches!
The 10 biggest problems for student renters
- Noisy housemates (52%)
- Damp (38%)
- Housemates stealing food (37%)
- Lack of water/heating (34%)
- Disruptive building work (22%)
- Rodents & pests (18%)
- Inappropriate landlord visits (14%)
- Dangerous living conditions (8%)
- Break in or burglary (6%)
- Bed bugs (4%)
As if the stats weren’t bad enough, some of the anecdotal evidence is truly worrying too:
While it’s a huge improvement since 2017, 1 in 3 students are still left waiting up to a month for maintenance issues to be fixed – and 7% say problems are never fixed. Yikes.
With some landlords taking their sweet time, the pressure is on parents to pitch in on advice, repairs or moral support: 43% of students ask for help from home. Friends, the university’s accommodation service and online forums also crop up as SOS saviours, while some of you have taken issues to Citizen’s Advice or sought legal advice.
As we say, things are looking up in this department, but that doesn’t mean that long-term problems are unheard of:
Save the Student
Jake Butler, our student money expert, says:
The National Association of Student Money Advisors (NASMA)
Wendy Bainham and Ani Bailey of NASMA comment:
It’s not all doom and gloom! We spend our days trying to help students balance the books at uni, and if your accommodation is proving a drain on your resources, check out these essential tools: