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New powers for student renters living in “squalor”

Rogue landlords who let out sub-standard student accommodation have been warned to clean up their act or they could face court action under new regulations.

In a speech today, universities minister Chris Skidmore will hit out at private landlords who leave their student tenants without heating, hot water or living among mice and slugs.

Research cited by the government suggests that as many as one in five students live in vermin-infested “squalor”.

New laws came into force last week under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation Act) 2018, which give tenants the right to take landlords to court where they fail to address serious defects in homes such as mould, damp and safety hazards.

Skidmore says: “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.

“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.

“Now the time is up for these landlords making a profit from shoddy accommodation.”

Minister for housing Heather Wheeler adds: “For the last year, we have worked tirelessly to ensure all tenants, including students, have access to a fairer private rented market across the country.

“From cracking down on unnecessary costs through our Tenant Fees Act, extending HMO regulations to offer protections to more tenants than ever before and giving councils the funding they need to tackle rogue landlords, we are determined to make renting of the standard it should be.

“Students must use these powers to crack down on poor quality accommodation and opportunistic landlords profiting from tenants’ misery.”

A survey by NUS and UniPol found that in 2018, 40 per cent of UK students who rented privately lived with damp and mould on their walls.

The same survey found that over a third of students said poor living conditions made them feel anxious or depressed.

Unipol and Universities UK have created codes of conduct for private landlords wishing to rent their properties to students.

The universities minister is urging landlords to sign up to the codes and 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.

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