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‘Rogue’ private landlords must stop exploiting students, says universities minister

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25/03/2019
Landlords who fail to meet standards for student accommodation must face justice under new regulations, the universities minister Chris Skidmore will warn.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 is targeted to drive up standards in rented homes in both social and private sectors. The act provides an alternative way for tenants to seek redress from their landlord if their rented property presents a risk of harm to the health and safety of the occupiers.

Tenants are empowered to hold their landlord, including registered providers such as housing associations, to account without having to rely on their local authority to do so.

This is a power for tenants and does not alter any existing local authority powers.

The Minister will hit out at private landlords who do not fulfil their responsibilities, resulting in some students encountering poor conditions such as a lack of heating or hot water. Some figures have even suggested that one in five students live in ‘squalor’ and reported mice, slugs, and other vermin infesting their accommodation.

Damp and mould in 40% of properties

A survey by NUS and UniPol found that in 2018, 40% 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 (36%).

Universities minister Chris Skidmore said: “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.

“Now the time is up for these landlords making a profit from shoddy accommodation. These new regulations make landlords more accountable, helping to improve standards, and students should use their powers to make sure landlords face justice where they’re not fulfilling their responsibilities.”

Minister for housing Heather Wheeler said: “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.”

Unipol and Universities UK have created codes to set standards for practice and conduct, which landlords can sign up to, to make sure standards are met with the government calling on private landlords to sign up to these standard-raising codes.

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