Rent Strikes – Past and Future

“When they say ‘rent hike’, we say ‘rent strike’!”

We don’t have to settle for these extortionate rents and terrible living conditions. At UCL halls in Camden, residents with elected reps are organising together and putting pressure on the managers to fulfil their demands. Get in touch with us to join that campaign or for help starting one in another hall.

A banner for the UCL Camden RENTS Campaign
A banner for the UCL Camden RENTS Campaign

Sadly it’s not always enough to ask nicely. UCL managers have an interest in keeping rents high and costs low. Our campaigns have to take action to force improvements.In the past, one powerful tactic has been the rent strike. Residents
collectively agree not to pay rent until an acceptable deal is reached. At Sussex University throughout 70s and 80s student rent strikes reduced rent rises and stopped low quality halls being built. 4 years ago, an Oxford college struck over fire safety.

We hope UCL managers voluntarily improve standards and cut rents. But if we have to fight, we will!

An item on one of the rent strikes at Sussex Uni, from the uni newspaper 'The Bulletin' January 1973.
An item on one of the rent strikes at Sussex Uni, from the uni newspaper ‘The Bulletin’ January 1973.
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UCL Halls are Too Damn Expensive

For most, living in halls isn’t exactly luxurious but we put up with it. Most students experience any number of ‘horror stories’ during their time in student accommodation. Certainly, after only a couple of months at UCL, the newest batch of freshers already have enough to last them a year.

Max Rayne House at UCL
Max Rayne House at UCL, A.K.A, “Max Payne House”

Cockroaches!

If you live in Max Rayne you will now likely be intimately familiar with the cockroaches. Students are finding them across the building; in their kitchens and even in their bedrooms. Does Max Rayne somehow attract unhygienic students or are UCL ignoring what must be an infestation?

UCL's accommodation slogan. The "affordable" bit is, essentially, a lie.
UCL’s accommodation slogan. The “affordable” bit is, essentially, a lie.

Fire!

For other unlucky students, attempting to cook for the first time after arriving ended with the arrival of two fire engines. Understandable, perhaps, if they had burnt their cooking, but not so much when all they did was turn on the ovens. Within minutes the kitchen was filled with smoke due to the incredibly poor condition of these ovens. There are plenty of other stories, too. From toilets being out of use for the first two weeks upon arrival, to a windowsill that is held together with tape and numerous bedroom windows that aren’t even sealed properly.

Water?

There was also the infamous 48 hours during which Ifor Evans and Max Rayne were without hot water and heating after a fuse was blown. At least the students were contacted by management about it… once the problem had been fixed. Fortunately, at the start of term, a few lucky students were able to put off the halls ‘experience’ for about a week as building work had not been completed in their accommodation when they arrived.

unaffordable london
The rent is…

However, if most students, past and present, have had some kind of ‘horror’ experience during their time in halls, why bother writing about them? The answer is simple: the rent is too high. UCL runs some of the most expensive student accommodation in the country and that would be somewhat justifiable if it ran some of the best student accommodation in the country, but it doesn’t. Excluding the ‘horror’ events, the basic standard of student accommodation does not correspond to the price that we are paying. When UCL charge extortionate rents and don’t invest it back into the accommodation (or at least charge lower rents), the students have to put their foot down and do something about it.

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