Calling all students, remember to rate your landlord this academic year!

Your student accommodation is still your home - rate your landlord and ensure you get the best possible place to live!
By Ben Yarrow
1 November 2023


Calling all students, remember to rate your landlord this academic year!


As the start of the 2023/24 academic year arrives we wanted to talk about the issues facing student renters and how Marks Out Of Tenancy can help this year.

On a national level, things are looking bleak for student renters. Recent data has once again shone a light on the often shocking housing conditions students are expected to live with.

NUS and SOS-UK research in 2023 found that in the Private Rented Sector (PRS):

  • 54% have experienced damp or mould on walls or ceilings in their current accommodation
  • 49% say their accommodation is poorly insulated / draughty
  • 48% who say they've felt uncomfortably cold say it makes them feel anxious or depressed

And dodgy student housing isn’t just limited to the PRS. Supposedly swanky Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) is also often rife with problems. University of East Anglia just evacuated hundreds of students from a block due to fears over RAAC concrete. In Birmingham, students just arrived into a block filled with rotting food and bug infestations.

But surely students will have an affordable rent for these kinds of properties?


 Well, sadly not. Students in the PRS are facing the same spiralling rents as everybody else.

A lot of this is borne out of the fact of severe supply/demand imbalances in many key student housing areas around the country.

Elsewhere on the site we recently dove into looking at the spiralling PRS rents in Southwark and Lambeth.

Added to that, rents have been rocketing in the PBSA sector. The NUS-UNIPOL Accommodation Cost Survey (which has been running for several decades and is the best authority on rents in the PBSA sector). The crisis for student renters in this sector is so bad, that an emergency edition of the report is being developed this year to understand just how bad it all is!

Added to that, a former UN special rapporteur on the right to housing just authored a piece on the issue calling for radical change.

Student maintenance loans have also been held down in their growth despite record inflation, adding to the affordability crisis for student renters.

On top of all this, students are beginning to be left out of major regulatory interventions to improve the plights of renters. In Scotland, emergency rent controls have been put in place in the PRS to support tenants through the Cost of Living Crisis – capping in-tenancy rent increases at 3%. Yet for PBSA, these rent caps have been suspended.

In England, the National Residential Landlord Association has made it a cornerstone lobbying point to prevent student tenants from benefitting from key aspects of the Renters Reform Bill.

In London, a lobbying operation of Sadiq Khan continues from many PBSA landlords, seeking to overturn requirements to build affordable PBSA in the capital - something that will be impacting the experience of student renters in Southwark and Lambeth – where our funded project continues.

In 2021/22 there were 374,650 students studying in London, an enormous population. About half of these were living in the PRS, a further 57,000 living in PBSA and just under 100,000 were living with their family in the city (many of whom would themselves be renters).

Whilst just one university is fully based in one our key boroughs, London South Bank University in Southwark with 12,830 students – many more of the hundreds of thousands of students reside in either Southwark or Lambeth from other institutions in the city.

How can Marks Out Of Tenancy help students?


Here at Marks Out Of Tenancy, we believe that students can help each other turn the tide on some of this shoddy treatment with use of our platform. Elsewhere on the site we have discussed recently how reviews can help boost standards and enforcement.

Students remain the biggest unionised renter demographic in the country, and are a highly networked population. As a result, students are well placed to get landlord reviewing to a critical mass that makes it sustainable and effective. As a renting population with significant housing churn, having more information available before choosing a next property will be particularly helpful and the number of reviews per property should also be higher in the student PRS for other demographics.

Furthermore, in London students are more likely to live in mixed student/non-student households (with a higher propensity of live-at-home students than elsewhere and a greater young professional/student mix in the PRS) and are more likely to remain renting in the capital after graduation. As such, getting students into the pattern of reviewing landlords will ensure the word spreads quickly through the rest of the rental market.

Students’ unions and universities are both well placed to spread the marketing messages of landlord reviewing and help embed a culture of reviewing into the regular rental cycle. This could be through freshers fairs, advertisements in campus buildings, social media, emails and community engagement events. Many students’ unions and universities also engage with or even operate landlord accreditation and marketing schemes.

To roll out reviews, they could make their engagement conditional on landlords engaging with a review platform. Many students’ unions and universities also run housing advice services that come into contact with students renters experiencing problems on a daily basis – perhaps advisers could support their clients to write a review of their landlord/property. We have partnered with students’ unions to roll out these types of initiatives in the past like this.

So if you’re a student renter in Southwark, Lambeth or anywhere for that matter – be sure to help turn the tide for you and your fellow student renters by leaving some reviews, spreading the word and discussing Marks Out Of Tenancy with your students’ unions and university.


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