Following the government’s decision to suspend the rent freeze on student accommodation, NUS Scotland has released a report revealing the depth of the disfunction of the student housing market.
Student rents increased by 34% between 2018 and 2021 but despite this surge in price, purpose-built student accommodation remains unfit for purpose. The report found that students were forced to live in unsafe, unfinished buildings; could not access water for up to 96 hours; or could not find housing for several months, being forced to live in hostels or sleep on friends’ sofas.
The report recommends a reform to the Scottish student housing system that begins with a reinstatement of the rent freeze whilst a more sustainable system of fair rent setting is found. It also argues that the government introduces a PBSA regulator that affords student tenants more rights to leave exploitative tenancies and to be protected from unfair evictions.
Commenting, NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall, said:
“This report reveals the appalling state of the purpose-built student accommodation sector.
“Whilst 12% of students have experienced homelessness since starting their studies, unchecked rent increases have allowed landlords to make untold profits.
“In the same period that rents have increased by 34%, student support has only increased by 4.5%.
“The Scottish Government cannot afford to continue its path of inaction: it must quickly reinstate the rent freeze and make it so that students have the same rights as other members of society to leave unsuitable tenancies and to be protected from unfair evictions.
“Institutions also have their part to play. We are calling on institutions to establish a student housing guarantee that ensures that there is adequate housing for every student accepted at an institution.”