University of Sussex students voting for rent strike
UNIVERSITY students are staging a protest today over “squalid housing conditions” in their seafront halls.
More than 30 members of Acorn, a renters’ union and anti-poverty group, including students from the University of Sussex, had already voted to start a rent strike after it was revealed Professor Michael Farthing, the vice-chancellor, was handed a £230,000 leaving bonus.
Students at the university’s King’s Road halls, in Brighton, who pay £502 a month, believe they are paying too much rent to live in “dilapidated and unsanitary” accommodation.
Laura Stevens, a first-year international relations student and King’s Road halls resident, said: “When I came to Brighton I was so excited to live in a great city.
“This accommodation has been a horrible shock. Universities shouldn’t rent out halls that are in such bad condition.
“I just want a flat without mice and black mould that I can afford – it’s not too much to ask.”
Students said the majority of flats in the block suffer from rodent infestations, with kitchen appliances, showers and toilets out of use and some flats left without hot water.
They said constant construction work nearby was causing noise and dust pollution, leaving some rooms “uninhabitable”.
A spokesman for Acorn Brighton said: “Britain has thousands of dodgy landlords, who make their money by renting poor quality accommodation for extortionate prices.
“Sadly, the managers of the University of Sussex are no different.”
Protesters will be demonstrating outside Sussex House on the Falmer campus from 4pm today to call for the immediate repair of all maintenance issues, provision of a free travel card for every resident, compensation of £100 a month for the duration of construction works and for expenses incurred by tenants to fix faulty parts of the accommodation.
The university has taken note of the disruption and offered £35 per month in compensation but the students rejected this as “insulting”.
Student striker Jack Carpentiere said: “We will not back down until we get what we deserve.”
A University of Sussex spokeswoman said: “We regularly check all of our properties and ask that our students report any maintenance requirements so they can be rectified quickly.
“Whilst we are already addressing some temporary issues, we don’t recognise all of the claims that have been put forward.”
Source: The Argus