Survey finds most university students have lived in housing that may be “unsuitable for habitation”

Most university students have lived in accommodation that could be considered “unsuitable for habitation,” a new poll suggested.

A survey of 1,000 students found that the problems included mold, humidity, broken doors and alarms that were not working.

A university union said the results – seen by The independent – were “ashamed” but “no surprise”.

Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed lived in a place that could be classified as “unfit for habitation” under the Homes Act 2018, according to the survey by Stint, a study app for students.

More than 40 percent of participating students said they lived somewhere with mold or damp, according to the survey, which was conducted between mid-August and the end of August.

When it came to a broken door or window, almost half said they had experienced it.

After all the recent disruption caused by the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, students deserve better

Jo Grady, Union of Universities and Colleges

Just under 20 percent of those surveyed had lived in a property with a broken smoke detector.

“It is shameful that so many students have been forced to live in accommodation that this government’s own legislation would consider unsuitable for habitation,” said Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU ).

“This is not surprising, however, in an education system that continues to treat students like cash cows, as in the last year of university, when many were forced to pay for housing they could not use or were trapped on campus after being promised a normal college experience.

Over 40 percent of participating students said they had lived somewhere with mold or damp

(Getty / iStock)

Ms Grady added: “After all the recent disruption caused by the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, students deserve better.”

Many universities have waived rent payments or offered some form of reimbursement to students who were prevented from returning to their university accommodation during the lockdown earlier this year.

But those who rented in the private sector – who would make up the bulk of the student body – depended on their landlord’s decision.

A 2018 survey by the National Students’ Union found that 40% of UK private hire students had lived with damp and mold on their walls, while 20% reported problems with infestation of vermin or insects.

The government says the Homes Act 2018 was introduced to ensure that homes and rented properties – which it covers – are “safe, sound, and free from things that could cause serious damage.”

Problems like gas safety hazards, humidity or fire safety issues could make a property unfit for life, according to the Shelter charity.

A government spokesperson said: “It is totally unacceptable that anyone living in unsafe housing – we expect students to enjoy a decent standard of living and that university accommodation policies are fair and transparent.

“We have announced major reforms to support tenants, which will provide better recourse to residents, better regulations and better quality housing.”

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