Monday 13-02-2017 - 15:25
Following the victories of UCL Cut The Rent last academic year, securing significant accommodation bursaries, students are now on strike again demanding a cut in rent. NUS is offering our full support and providing assistance with students on rent strike and to their union, UCLU.
The sky-high cost of rents for students in halls is unacceptable. Extortionate rents, coupled with course fees and spiralling living costs prevents working class students from attending university altogether. This cannot go on.
At NUS, we have clear policy on what constitutes a fair and affordable rent: where 25 per cent of all bed-spaces are offered at 50 per cent of the maximum amount of student finance. According to the Accommodation Costs Survey, only 0.8 per cent of the accommodation on offer at UCL could be considered affordable. When students look to apply to university, it is no surprise that huge living costs can be a deterrent.
Our National Conference mandated NUS to provide assistance to students taking part in rent strikes. Today I am writing to UCL management to re-affirm NUS’ support of the students taking action and calling on them to co-operate, provide affordable halls and ensure fair access for every student. It is not acceptable for UCL to refuse to act as guarantor to students, leaving them at risk of homelessness. In the coming weeks I will be putting together resources, providing practical and legal support for rent strikers.
In previous decades, many other campuses have used rent strikes and won: Birmingham, Sussex and Warwick to name a few. As a movement facing a cost of living crisis, we can learn from their actions and take inspiration from them. Having exhausted other tactics, the students on rent strike today are withholding their payments collectively, and the more student tenants who join them, the stronger the chances of winning.
I urge more tenants at UCL to join the campaign, and will continue to offer advice and support to any student who may require it. We will not tolerate any attempts by UCL management to bully students into leaving the strike – instead we ask them to resolve it as soon as possible by engaging with the demands.
Solidarity, and victory to the #RentStrike.
You can sign up for the Liber8 housing campaign days here: