University of Hertfordshire Students’ Union president slams off campus accommodation

STUDENTS at the University of Hertfordshire are being forced to live in squalid conditions because of neglectful landlords, the president of the students’ union has claimed.

BUG-infestions, no heating or hot water, and toilets left unfixed for months.

Just some of the squalid living conditions University of Hertfordshire students are currently having to put up with in rented accommodation around Hatfield.

That, at least, is the picture being painted by Students’ Union president Nica de Koenigswarter, who has launched a campaign to get a better standing of living for students living off campus.

Ms de Koenigswarter is calling for the creation of a landlord accreditation scheme, in the hope of ensuring students are renting houses from reputable landlords.

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And she’s teamed up with the uni and Welwyn Hatfield Council to get the campaign off the ground.

“I have been polling our students and 55 per cent have said they think the quality of off-campus housing is either poor or very poor,” said the 23-year-old.

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“Dozens of case studies have come up with examples, such as no heating or hot water for months, severe bed bug infestations, water leaks dripping onto carpets and causing insect infestations, landlords rushing through inventories then trying to rip off students at the end of their contracts and plumbing not being fixed for months.

“The fact is that students are expected to pay commercial prices but are not getting commercial services.

“They are being forced to live in houses that are mouldy, or are infested with bugs.

“I’m working with the university and the council to raise the quality of housing that’s let to students.”

Ms de Koenigswarter’s campaign is being championed by borough councillor Kim Langley, the council’s lead member on town and gown issues.

“There are many landlords that will endeavour to do their best, and I’d like to praise them for the efforts they make”, Cllr Langley said.

“But the idea of landlord accreditation has come at the right time.

“The university is expecting a reduction in students and therefore the supply and demand for housing will not be equal, as it is now.

“The rogue landlords will then be at a disadvantage financially with letting their properties.”

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