March 25th, 2019Student Accommodation News
The minister for universities, Chris Skidmore, has issued a firm warning to student landlords who are providing poor accommodation to their tenants, stating that ‘time is up’ for them and that they need to improve the living standards of their accommodation or face being taken to court.
Speaking to students, the minister believed that there are too many rogue landlords ‘exploiting’ students by not fulfilling their responsibilities and providing accommodation that doesn’t meet basic living standards.
“Students’ time at university should be some of the best days of their lives and yet I have heard appalling stories of students living in terrible conditions, which can affect their studies and even their mental health”, he said.
“While there are many landlords who do take their responsibilities seriously, for too long rogue private landlords have been exploiting vulnerable students by failing to provide even basic standards of living.”
This comes after the introduction of the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 which is aiming to improve the standards of rental accommodation in both the private and social rental sector. The new laws, which include student homes, will empower tenants with the right to take legal action against their landlord if their accommodation is sub-standard.
There is a lot of evidence backing up the claims; many students have stated that they are living in squalor and have reported mice, slugs and other vermin in their property. In a survey carried out by the NUS and Unipol, 40% of students in privately rented accommodation said that they have experienced damp and mould in their properties, 36% said that their living conditions have led to them feeling anxious and depressed and 17% have even said that the conditions have exacerbated an existing health condition.
This unacceptable standard of living has led to an increasing number of students opting for purpose-built accommodation, as it provides a better standard of living and on-site property management.
To ensure that all students receive adequate standards of living, Unipol and Universities UK have created a set of codes that sets the standard for practice and conduct.
The Universities Minister is urging landlords to sign up to these codes to ensure that they act responsibly, provide a certain standard of living and provide students with a clear complaints procedure to follow if they feel that these standards aren’t being met.
The Department of Education said that Mr. Skidmore is also encouraging universities to consider ‘the social value’ of contracting out services, such as accommodation, as it will benefit the wider community. The minister is also working with the University of Northampton to ensure that universities are embedding social values in their procurement practices.
In conclusion, Mr. Skidmore said: “Now the time is up for these landlords making profit from shoddy accommodation. These new regulations make landlords more accountable, helping to improve standards, and students should use their powers to make sure landlords face justice where they’re not fulfilling their responsibilities.”
Hopefully this new action from the government will give rogue landlords the wake-up call that they need to improve their standards. In the meantime, students will continue to turn to purpose-built accommodation for a better standard of living.
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