Rats in the walls and collapsed ceilings – just some of the complaints about private student housing in Portsmouth

Students from The University of Portsmouth have launched a campaign called iCribs to raise awareness of poor quality private student housing.

Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 3:58 pm
Mould has been reported as a problem in some privately rented student accomodation.

Five second year Politics students- Jasmin Peters, James Westwood, Rosalind Northey, Dominic Owen and Alfie Carey- started the campaign after experiencing problems with their own accommodation.

They are looking to raise awareness of poor living conditions, expensive fees and ‘scamming’ landlords.

Their aims are to improve student satisfaction and landlord transparency so that tenants can feel comfortable during their time at university.

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A student house after the collapse of part of the ceiling.

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Jasmin, 19, said: ‘If you are struggling at university the last thing you want to have to do is deal with an unresponsive landlord. It’s frustrating and adds more pressure to what is a stressful year for students already.’

The campaign is still in its first steps where the students are gathering evidence and statements from students.

Jasmin added: ‘These are not silly little things like broken cupboard doors. These are real life issues that can cause serious health problems. We have heard stories about how students have mould in their rooms, rats in their walls and another whose ceiling caved in.’

The campaign calls for landlords to ensure all properties are in appropriate condition before students move into them.

‘I feel disappointed in landlords who put students in these positions. Landlords are not aware of the physical and mental impacts living in poor conditions can have on students who are just trying to settle down and enjoy their time at university. Our long-term goal is to draw awareness to the problems that students face with housing all across the country,’ said Jasmin.

Responding to the students’ claims, the vice-chair of Portsmouth and District Private Landlord’s Association, Alwin Oliver, 61, has said proprietors should take responsibility for certain issues but has also said tenants need to ensure they are also carrying out the correct domestic practices.

He said: ‘If there are rats present then landlords should be proactive in dealing with this issue. However mould is often caused by condensation which can result from people’s behaviour such as drying clothes indoors without windows open.

‘It’s obviously a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that windows can open and extractor fans work.’

‘It has been more difficult for landlords to regularly inspect properties due to Covid regulations and health concerns and I would urge students to speak to their landlords over any issues. We are in the process of setting up a mediation service for landlords and tenants to communicate problems early to prevent them getting out of hand.’

A University of Portsmouth spokesman said: ‘The university is concerned that accommodation available to students is of good quality. We offer our students help to find reasonably priced accommodation in the private sector.

‘We put on housing events, drop-in sessions, and provide online resources for students to search for houses, flats and lodgings listed across the city of Portsmouth that are officially registered with the university's Student Housing Team.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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