How safe is YOUR home? Number of students living in houses ‘unfit for habitation’ unveiled

Renting: Expert says market ‘will improve’

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Generation rent is growing as more and more households in the UK continue to get stung by unaffordable house prices in the UK. While the affordable housing crisis affects everyone from low-income families, to first-time buyers, new data has revealed housing standards are just as problematic in the student property market. With 83 percent of students renting properties ‘unfit for habitation’, this is what you need to know about renting in the UK.

Despite being governed by the Homes Act 2018, the standard of rented accommodation in the UK continues to fall below legal requirements across the country.

Data collected by Stint has revealed the shocking truth about student renting, urging the Government to place stricter requirements on inhabitable housing.

University students make up a huge portion of renters in the UK, yet the quality of student housing remains a concerning issue.

With an 18 percent increase in the average student rent since 2020, students are forced to compromise even the most basic standards of living for the sake of affordability.

How are renters protected by the Homes Act 2018?

The Homes Act 2018 sets out a standard criteria which must be met by landlords of private and social housing in the UK.

This criteria determines whether rented houses and flats in England are deemed fit or unfit for human habitation.

A shocking four in every five students are reportedly living in houses deemed unfit based on this criteria, leaving careless landlords at large and thousands of students at risk.

According to Government guidance, tenants can raise a problem should they find a serious problem a list of 29 things, including:

  • Damp and mould growth
  • Electrical hazards
  • Fire and gas safety
  • Entry by intruders (lack of locks on doors etc.)
  • Radon gas radiation
  • Sanitation and drainage
  • Lighting
  • Crowding and space
  • Structural collapse
  • Falls (on or between levels)

Sol Schlagman, co-founder of Stint, told “Students having to put up with shoddy housing has always been treated as par for the course and as a bit of a joke.
“This is a joke that has gone too far.

“No one should be forced to live in unsafe accommodation, particularly when hundreds of thousands of students are spending their entire maintenance loan on it.”

Sol added improving the standard of student living is in the hands of the Government, who have the power to hold landlords accountable by tightening restrictions on rented housing standards.

The timely intervention comes ahead of the Government’s consultation on the introduction of a landlord register and Renters’ Reform White Paper in the autumn.

In a survey of over 1,000 students, Stint found that:

  • 41 percent of students have lived in a property with severe mould or damp
  • 45 percent have had a broken door, window or lock upon moving into the property
  • 19 percent have a broken smoke alarm

While rented accommodation works out marginally cheaper for student house shares, research by the student work app found that one in five students in the UK spend 100 percent of their Government maintenance loan on rent for poor housing – with many on lower loan thresholds shelling out even more on top of this.

Tenant rights

As the legal tenant of rented accommodation, renters have basic rights to live in a safe home.

Landlords are responsible for, installing and maintaining a safe electrical system including light fittings, sockets, cookers and kettles.

Landlords must provide a smoke alarm on each storey and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with fuel-burning appliances.

Escape routes, extinguishers, and fire-safe furniture is all down to the landlord to provide and maintain.

Gas equipment should be safely installed and maintained with annual safety checks on each appliance and must provide a copy of the gas safety check prior to moving in.

Sol told “At a minimum, the Government should protect students by including student landlords in any forthcoming landlord register.

“This will ensure that landlords are held to account and deliver the housing that the student community deserves.”

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