A Government minister has warned landlords who fail to meet standards for student accommodation that they will face justice under new regulations designed to protect all private rental tenants.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore hit out at private landlords who do not fulfil their responsibilities, resulting in some students encountering poor conditions such as a lack of heating or hot water. Some figures have suggested that one in five students live in ‘squalor’ and reported mice, slugs, and other vermin infesting their accommodation.
New regulations have come into force empowering students and renters across the country, giving them the right to take landlords to court where they fail to address serious defects in homes such as mould, damp and safety hazards. Mr Skidmore said: “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. “For too long rogue private landlords have been failing to provide even basic standards of living. Now the time is up for these landlords making a profit from shoddy accommodation.”
A survey by the National Union of Students and UniPol found that in 2018, 40 per cent of UK students who rented privately lived with damp and mould on their walls. It also found that over a third of students said poor living conditions made them feel anxious or depressed (36 per cent). To make sure that students receive adequate accommodation when renting privately, Unipol and Universities UK have created codes to set standards for practice and conduct, which landlords can sign up to, to make sure standards are met.
The Universities Minister is calling on all private landlords renting properties to students to sign up to these codes to help to ensure they act responsibly, meet standards of practice and have a clear complaints process. Mr Skidmore is also encouraging universities to consider the social value of contracting out services, such as accommodation, to help make sure the wider community benefits from these decisions. He is working with the University of Northampton to look at ways in which universities can ensure they are embedding social values in their procurement practices.
By Patrick Mooney, Editor