A petition was recently handed in to the Housing Office by student residents at King’s Road, one of multiple off-campus residencies provided by the University of Sussex.
The petition, which has been signed by 75% of the tenants at King’s Road, has highlighted multiple problems with the seafront accommodation. The students claim that construction work on the property was not part of their tenancy agreement, making them unaware of the scaffolding that would dominate the property. This has also caused issues with travel, as the scaffolding blocks the bike rack which some students intended to use with their transport to university.
There have also been complaints over health and safety violations. The construction work on the property had blocked a fire escape, whilst also contributing to an asthma attack suffered by one student. The petition also raises awareness of the mould present in some of the flats, that nearly half the flats at King’s Road have rodent infestations, and that the same number also have broken windows, toilets, showers and fridges. Multiple students have expressed dissatisfaction paying £126.61 per week for these conditions.
Duncan Michie, the Chair of University of Sussex Labour Society, told The Badger ‘we’re handing in a petition today due to the terrible conditions that we’ve been put in at King’s Road … none of this was shown in our tenancy agreement … which has gone against what was advertised in our building.’ This petition is also supported by Aisling Murray, Society and Citizenship Officer at Sussex Union, who told the The Badger ‘the Students’ Union support the action of our students, and it’s great that the students are organised amongst themselves to fight the bad conditions of their housing.’
The petition has made four demands from the University. These include calls for all broken items to be fixed in a timely manner, for students to be provided with travel cards, for the University to pay back every student £100 per month that the scaffolding remains, and for the University to reimburse students who had to make adjustments to use services that are meant to be provided by the accommodation.
Sussex’s ‘Cut the Rent’ group also shared an online post concerning the petition. The group, who have considered a rent strike in the past, supports the action taken by King’s Road residents, and suggests that students may have to ‘look for alternative mean(s) to gain what is owed to them’.
Students at University College London took part in a rent strike earlier this year following complaints against the price of university accommodation, and guaranteed a price freeze for the lowest rents for the 2017/18 academic year.
A University of Sussex spokesperson told The Badger: “The University has received the petition and is considering the points that have been raised and will respond back to the students involved by the 8th December, as requested … At Sussex, we want all of our students to have the very best experience possible. Whether our students are housed in campus accommodation or in University housing in the city, it’s important that they have access to good quality facilities and we will be continuing to work with the Students’ Union and directly with our students to make sure that this is the case.”