Sussex students refuse to pay rent for ‘dilapidated’ halls

Posted On 11 Dec 2017 at 5:19 pm

More than one in three students living at a Sussex University halls of residence are going on an indefinite rent strike over ongoing building works and ‘unsanitary’ conditions – and campaigners say the campaign may spread to other halls.

The students at Kings Road Hall say they are angry at being charged hundreds of pounds for what they say are inadequate accommodation while the university gave former vice chancellor Michael Farthing a £230,000 payout.

Reported issues include rat infestations, broken white goods, bathrooms and boilers and dust and noise from ongoing construction work.

They say the university has offered them £35 a month to compensate for the disruption, but brand this “insulting” and are demanding £100 a month plus a free travel pass to escape the building work.

The strike is being supported by the Brighton branch of Acorn renters’ union. Duncan Michie, Acorn organiser and third year Sussex chemistry student said: “If they can spare the hundreds of thousands of pounds for university bosses, they can spare at least as much to compensate students enduring squalid housing conditions.”

Laura Stevens, a first year international relations student and Kings Road resident said: “When I came to Brighton I was so excited to live in a great city. This accommodation has been a horrible shock.

“Universities shouldn’t rent out halls that are in such bad condition. I just want a flat without mice and black mould that I can afford – it’s not too much to ask.”

The rent for a Kings Road Hall room is £502 per month. A five month rent strike at University College London last year ended with the university agreeing £1.5million in concessions including a rent freeze and an increase in accommodation bursaries.

Jack Carpentiere, a first year criminology and sociology student and rent striker, said: “We will not back down, until we get what we deserve.”

And Ethan Richold, first year student and rent striker, added: “Our movement will only escalate as we reach out to more students who feel that the university are taking them for a ride.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Sussex said: “All of the University’s managed accommodation, whether it is on campus or in the city, meets our quality standards. We regularly check all of our properties and ask that our students report any maintenance requirements so they can be rectified quickly.

“Whist we are already addressing some temporary issues, we don’t recognise all of the claims that have been put forward but we are in active discussions with the Students’ Union and directly with our students about these.”

  1. Fishwife, 49 Reply

    (sigh) when did we wave goodbye to “unhygienic” and embrace that ghastly Americanism, “unsanitary”? SMH

  2. Ali Reply

    £502 per month, are you having a laugh? What a bargain, all your bills are included in that on the seafront! How horrible of your landlord to replace the windows for you and disrupt you whilst they try and keep your flat nice and warm. I’ve been with Acorn since it started as someone who can’t afford to pay my rent and my kids food. We shouldn’t attach oursleves to this. We are for real people in need, not some students trying to rip off their Uni to go out on the lash! Come on, sort yourselves out, you’re going to need it when you get older and enter the real world!

    • Andrew McDonnell Reply

      University of Sussex is not the on the seafront, it’s not really even in Brighton, it’s on the Lewes / Brighton bypass. Cost is not applicable, it doesn’t matter how much you pay, you still have a right to suitable living conditions.

      • Fishwife, 49 Reply

        You didn’t read the bit where it says that this is about the Kings Road halls of residence, did you?

  3. Barkes Reply

    They should be tankful they don’t have to work in he same conditions as many Sussex staff

  4. Stephen Reply

    Actually King’s Hall on the kings road is on the seafront. I lived ther 2013 – 2014 academic year. But I recognise all the issues written in this piece, our biggest problem was the hot water and internet. The services are Terrible and unreliable. The water always backed up and the showers always leaked into the flat below so we could use them. 2014 sore the university hand of the running of kings to a management company as I recall. In our contract the halls supplied toilet paper to the communally loo’s. the management company were so tight they tried to stop this but they could as it was in our rental agreement. The uni offered us something pitiful like £45 for all the troubles we had to put up with. Good to see the students have some support this year.

    • Dreadful Substance Reply

      Taking into the account the spelling and punctuation mistakes in your post, if I were you I would ask the university for a refund; you were robbed…

  5. Brian Reply

    The students should bear in mind they will need a reference for their next rental from the university which will expose they have not paid their rent

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