The University of Birmingham holds its last exam by the start of June. Term starts again around the beginning of October. This leaves a four month period where student houses are generally uninhabited. Yet almost all those renting houses from private landlords are contracted to pay rent for those months. In fact, the majority of students are forced to sign contracts months before actually moving in, due to the pressure of thinking they may not be able to find a house if they leave it any longer.
In general, students have enough financial worries with trying to get loans and part time jobs to pay for, and eventually pay back, tuition fees and rent for months that they are actually inside the property (as well as the stress of trying to get a degree!). Is it fair to have to pay for the summer months too?
As a student myself, I can unequivocally state that this expectation by landlords is completely unreasonable. Especially when the state of the houses in question is taken into consideration. I have heard stories of mouldy beds, damp walls and insect infestations. Perhaps this could be excused if the average rent of students was set at a lower price? According to Rent Right, 2010’s letting Agency of the year, the average rent in July 2010 for a four bedroom property in Birmingham this month is a mere £900 whereas as rent per week for a student living in a four bedroom property can be up to £80 which totals £320 per month. This means a four bedroom student property can cost up to £1280, almost £400 over the average four bedroom house in Birmingham. So not only are conditions of houses substandard, the average price can be almost 50% higher!
We already pay rent over Christmas and Easter, despite the fact that many of us spend these months at home, so to be asked to pay for summer seems slightly immoral, almost justifying the stereotype of the unmerciful landlord.
I understand, as I am sure many students do, that for some landlords, rent is their main source of income, and I am also sure, that students would be willing to pay a reduced rent during these months but this, again, does not seem like something landlords are willing to consider.
Written by Rebecca Schwartz (Birmingham University Student)