Soaring halls prices halted by Exec victory

Real term rent cuts agreed after cost of accommodation rises 19% in five years.

LUU Community Officer Jamie Ali has secured an agreement between LUU and Leeds University to make ‘real term rent cuts’ in the 2017/18 academic year, which will ensure rent costs do not rise higher than inflation.

The news comes following the announcement that Oxley Hall is to be sold, and more money invested by the university in to new affordable halls.

From the academic year 2010/11 to 2015/16 the average price that a student at Leeds University pays for accommodation has risen by 19%.

He said: “Cutting the cost of Leeds Uni accommodation was one of my main pledges when I ran to be an officer last year. Rent is our biggest outgoing as students. For September 2017, I’ve negotiated a real term rent cut for Leeds Uni owned halls and laundry will no longer be charged for.

“Leeds has a broad range of affordability in its university halls – from your cheap and cheerful Lupton, to Charles Morris at the top end – and there are even more cheap residencies coming onto line this September. It’s a start, but we’ve a long way to go and we’re building on our good relationship with Residential Services. Private halls however are a different story with rip off rents and bad customer service being common.”

Leeds will be the first university to get rid of charging students to do their laundry. Residents in University owned halls will be given 20 laundry credits which equates to 20 free washes. 

Although this is currently only in accommodation owned by the University, the Union is now working with Residential Services to lobby private providers so that credits can be used by students there too.

For many students these improvements have been a long time coming, as from the academic year 2010/11 to 2015/16, the average amount of money that each student spent on accommodation increased from £4045 in 2010/11 to £4814 in 2015/16, a rise of 19%.

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 09.46.13However, the increase in student loans did not match these rent rises, as the maximum amount students could receive as a loan only went up by 16% from £4,950 to £5,740.

In the academic year 2014/15 loans rose by 1%, which meant that students who started university after 2012 and were living away from home outside of London could access maximum loans of £5,555 (which was up from £5,500 from 2013/14) and in 2015/16 the maximum loan rose 3.34% further to £5,740.

Maintenance grants for 2015/16 were also frozen at the levels of the previous year, at a maximum of £3,387, and for every £1 of maintenance grant received, 50 pence is taken from the loan.

The priciest are ensuite rooms in a catered accommodation and cost up to £6,820.80 for a 42 week contract with a food allowance of £49.70 for 31 weeks.

At York, the cheapest accommodation is £106 per week but they also offer twin rooms which, per person sharing a room, cost between £85 and £112 for self-catered accommodation and £124 to £141 for catered accommodation. The most expensive is £179 per week which brings it to £7,150 for the year. This means that at York, some students are paying more to share a bedroom than students in cheaper accommodation at Leeds University.

There’s no denying that rent prices in halls are pricey for students, with some students’ maintenance loans not even covering rent costs and the scrapping of maintenance grants further disadvantaging poorer students, so its reassuring to see some real progress towards more affordable accommodation for first year students.

Now our attention must turn to the private ‘luxury’ halls who are saturating the market and ripping students off.

Polly Hatcher 

(Image: Viola Luo)

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