Rent strike victory

rent_strike.jpgProblem with housing are rife in this country

Many of us live in poor conditions. Overcrowding, poorly maintained homes and high rents are a small part of the issues some of us face. One group particularly feeling the strain are university students who can expect to pay up to 95% of their maximum living loan on rent. Consequently students have less money to survive and buy basic essentials, meaning many work tirelessly alongside their studies. Or sadly some face the prospect of getting into significant debt.

This year a group of inspiring students from UCL grouped together to form a 'Rent Strike' campaign. Spreading throughout London, at least three other universities including Goldsmiths students withheld their rent from university hall administrators totalling £1.5 million pounds. They cited not only high rents as an issue, but the poor maintenance of halls leading to squalid living conditions.

Shockingly in London the price of the cheapest university hall averages at a minimum of £200 per week. This for most students are completely unaffordable.

After 5 months of students taking part in the 'rent strike' campaign an incredible £1 million pounds worth of concessions were won including £350,000 towards bursaries for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, rent freezes and other grants.

The fight does not end there

As a nation the housing crisis has hit breaking point for students which is not exclusive to London. Students are forced to work long hours to suplement their studies because of the hike in living costs, when they should be utilising their educational experience and using spare time to reach their goals. Stress is common amongst students. Research has shown how since the increased prices and marketisation of education, huge numbers of students have been reported living with mental health problems.

Something has to change

During the summer the 'Rent Strike' campaign invited students from all over the UK to a campaign weekend to plan more action. One hundred attended from 25 campuses who decided to pursue nationwide rent strikes. The NUS has spoken out in full backing of student who wish to parktake in rent strikes. Furthermore, the NUS are offering advice, support and protected accounts to desposit rent money if needed. The NUS is demanding that universities have a rent system whereby 25% of halls are offered at 50% of the maximum loan avaliable.

Rent and housing is becoming a huge crisis for this country. Inspiration and lessons should be taken from the striking success of the 'rent strike' students, who could spark a huge change in the rents and living conditions for us all.

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