London Students Are Holding a Rent Strike

by Tasbeeh Herwees

January 25, 2016
Image via the “UCL, Cut the Rent” campaign Facebook page

A group of students from University College London are holding a rent strike to demand a 40 percent decrease in rents. With the participation of 150 students, the “UCL, Cut the Rent” campaign will be withholding more than £250,000 ($356,000) in rent from landlords until demands are met. The students are also asking for “the establishment and maintenance of affordable rent prices in UCL accommodation” and “full transparency and student involvement within the rent-setting process.”

“The cost of rent has gone up dramatically and it’s preventing people from studying at university,” student organizer Angus O’Brien told The Guardian. “This is a massive problem across London and the country. We are showing that something can be done about rising rent prices; our action could be the start of something much wider.”  

In a petition, the students claim that rents have risen by 56 percent since 2009.

“The cheapest single room at the university this year is £135.59 per week, a total of £5,423.60 for the academic year, yet only 6 years ago, this same room was £94.01 per week, whilst the very cheapest room that year cost just £55.62,” they write in the petition. “Today, instead, many students are forced to pay up to £217.77 per week—£8,710.80 in total.”

In the past few decades, London has become one of the most expensive cities in the world. Rapidly rising rents all over the city are creating a housing crisis. A recent poll revealed that a third of Londoners want to leave the city. In 2014, 112,330 households in the U.K. requested homelessness assistance from their local authorities in the 2014-2015 period, a 26 percent rise from 2009-2010. 

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London Students Are Holding a Rent Strike