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Licensing landlords would help students, insists charity and union

A Citizens Advice and Students Union study into student accommodation in its patch says there should be an additional licensing scheme introduced in the area.

According to York CA this “would ensure more students in York are housed in well- managed properties that we know are meeting basic health and safety standards.”

In a report just released - but based on research undertaken before the pandemic - the charity claims “student experiences and conditions within the PRS should be a cause for concern for the University of York, landlords and agents, the City of York Council and students.”


The report, which looked only at privately renting students and not at those in halls of residence or other accommodation, claims specifically that 52 per cent of students in the city struggle to pay their rent occasionally, sometimes, often, or always.

And 47 per cent allege that repairs had not been carried out by their landlord or letting agent in a reasonable timeframe. Some 27 per cent of students claim their housing conditions have made them mentally unwell. 

It found that more than half of students surveyed spend 60 per cent of their monthly income on rent, with 19 per cent spending 80 per cent of their income on rent. More than half rely on their parents for financial help.

Fiona Derbyshire, chief executive of Citizens’ Advice York, says: “We know that many landlords are responsible but this is part of a wider problem we see evidence of on a weekly basis. We are pleased to share this report with everyone as it highlights concerns students have expressed with our advisors.

“It was clear from our work and the report that many experienced very challenging situations and often had neither the knowledge or support to deal with them.”

Patrick O’Donnell, president of University of York Students’ Union, said: “For all too many students, their time renting marked a low point of student life in York, with bad, substandard conditions impacting mental and physical health.

“Our research exposes real flaws across York’s private rented sector, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on some of the particular vulnerabilities that renters - including students - face.

“We found that poor conditions, poor property management and the hazards such as pest infestations and overcrowding were commonplace features of York’s housing market.

“The challenges of the past year, when our homes have been more important than ever, have highlighted the urgent need to ensure that all of York’s residents can access safe and good quality homes.”

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