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June 20, 2011

UNITE survey shows student housing unsafe

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Written by: Kyle Raffo

A third of students at the University of Reading live in unsafe and poorly maintained accommodation according to a new borough-wide survey.

The Reading Accommodation Report which has been compiled by student accommodation provider UNITE, found that 33% of students who had chosen to live in private housing outside of the University felt they were at risk.

Max Parish, a 21-year-old politics student living on Hatherley Road, only a short walk from the University said: “We inherited the house in a very poor state and as we come to the end of our tenancy almost nothing has been done improve our standard of living.

“As a result it has left us with very little motivation to keep the house in good condition and so our landlord will now have a big job on his hands if he wants to attract any future tenants to the property.”

Ben Fixter, a Mathematics students living on London Road added: “I live in a house with seven other people and between us we have a lot of valuable goods, be it televisions, games consoles or musical equipment and so it is essential that we feel that our possessions are safe when we leave the house.

“We were broken into just over a year ago and were lucky that only a few of us were living in the house at the time and only a few things were taken. Since then we have been afforded an extra lock for our front door, but it does raise questions as to how much time is being put into safeguarding these houses whose contents are so appealing to thieves.”

Ruth George, Operations Director for UNITE in Reading, told gereading: “As one of the top ranking university towns in the UK, Reading students should not have to compromise on their safety, security and general welfare when it comes to finding somewhere to live.”

Despite surveying 247 students in Reading, Jennifer Ghandhi, Director of Student Services at the University, disagreed with the findings saying: “Our experience is not that highlighted in the report. There is a wide degree of choice in the local market and the majority of our students enjoy a good standard of private accommodation, including the University’s own excellent facilities.

“We work with landlords and the local authorities to try and ensure landlords are aware of their responsibilities and both the university and the Students’ Union provide an advisory service for those seeking accommodation that gives tips on what to look for when choosing private accommodation and also vets contracts.”

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