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Third of students feel anxious or depressed due to “appalling” housing conditions | UK News

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More than a third of students have reported feeling anxious or depressed due to “appalling” living conditions and “exploitative” landlords, according to a survey.

One in five students have to deal with pests in their rented accommodation and nearly half are living with damp and mould growing in their homes, according to a report by the National Union of Students (NUS).

A student from Bournemouth University, who asked not to be named, said that part of a wall in her bathroom collapsed due to excessive damp and she had to throw away a pair of shoes after they became covered in mould.

She said her landlord “wouldn’t do anything” and was she told to buy mould spray.

A University of Bournemouth student said part of the wall in her bathroom collapsed due to damp
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A University of Bournemouth student said part of the wall in her bathroom collapsed due to damp

Others described moving in to their properties to find broken furniture, rubbish left on the floor and cupboards which were unusable due to mould.

Multiple students also told Sky News they had experienced rat infestations.

Brendan Ford, 22, described that he had paid a cleaning fee before moving in to a flat in London, but later found the landlord had cancelled the cleaner seven months before his move-in date.

He arrived to find the flat “dirty” and “disgusting” and said he had even found a condom on the bedroom floor.

Landlords have also been accused of waiting long periods before fixing issues within the household.

Louise, from the University of York, said her landlord “ripped out” her bathroom for six weeks and she was left to wash her hair in the kitchen sink.

Nearly half of students are living with damp and mould in their homes
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Nearly half of students have mould and damp in their rental accommodation

“89 days with broken radiators. 72 days with no bedroom curtain. 42 days with no bathroom. 18 days with no hot water,” she said.

The NUS survey also found that 17% of respondents said their living conditions had worsened existing health conditions, while 12% believed they had developed a new health problem.

Chahat Kalra said one of her housemates was becoming ill “repeatedly” due to the mould in their house and she had also suffered from a throat infection.

The 22-year-old, who attended the University of Winchester, said she felt “taken for granted” and treated like an “idiot”.

The NUS said students were paying significant prices for their accommodation, with half spending more than 75% of their monthly income on housing costs.

In addition, nearly half of student renters had not been provided with paperwork to prove their security deposits were safe – despite it being a legal requirement for landlords to protect the money within government-backed schemes.

A mattress covered in mould which Chahat Kalra, 22, says contributed to health problems
Image:
A mattress covered in mould which Chahat Kalra, 22, says contributed to health problems

The NUS is now calling for the government to help protect tenants’ rights and force landlords to improve standards.

Eva Crossan Jory, Vice President of Welfare for NUS said: “Students are living in appalling circumstances, in some of the worst housing stock in the country.

“For too long, they have been taken advantage of by bad landlords who rely on students not knowing their rights, or what to expect, when they rent their first home.

“Living in damp and dangerous properties is not a right of passage for students coming to college or university.”

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