UCL students withhold rent in response to soaring housing costs
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Over 150 residents in two University College London halls have declared an indefinite rent strike, withholding over £250,000 worth of rent until their demands of a 40% price cut are met. According to campaigners, UCL has increased the median rent by 56% since 2009, yielding a 45% profit, £15,799,000, for the University each year. This, they say, undermines poor students’ access to higher education, especially when situated in the context of scrapping maintenance grants and proposals for further increases to tuition fees. UCL Cut The Rent see their proposed 40% rent cut as a ‘social’ rental rate; more manageable for students from low-income backgrounds, and allowing access to higher education for all, regardless of their financial capabilities. They believe that lower rents will diversify UCL’s student body by encouraging more prospective students to apply, allowing equal access for equal talent. Rents in UCL halls of residence are among the most expensive in the country; self-catered single rooms start at £135.59 per week, while catered single rooms start at £172.34. Students on rent strike in Campbell House pay between £123.55 and £174.58 for self-catered accommodation, while those in Max Rayne House pay £102.97 to £232.40, depending on whether they choose twin or single rooms, or a one-bed flat. Last year, Campbell House residents for the year 2014/15 were refunded a full term’s rent by UCL, worth £1,368 per student, while former Hawkridge House residents received £1,197 each, as compensation for the unliveable and “unacceptable” conditions in the halls.
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