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Students home in on letting agents


By Simon Thompson
 
     
Students are joining the rental business to beat the problems of finding homes in overcrowded university cities. Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) is the latest to look at going in to the property business. Student unions at Liverpool and Cardiff have already started successful letting agencies. The OUSU proposal was put forward in response to long-running issues with the council and residents protesting about noise and poor behaviour by students living in the city. The council has led a campaign for regulating student properties and tighter planning controls on shared houses over recent months. “Where we live has a massive impact on our university experience – in terms of finances, welfare, academic performance,” said OUSU clubs and societies officer Jake Diggle. “Many colleges do not provide accommodation for all the years of a student’s course and so many are forced into the private rental market. This problem is particularly acute for graduates, mature students, international students, students with children etc – all groups currently receiving the least support from OUSU. “The university and colleges will never be able to provide enough space for every student and the private market is an essential tool, but it is unacceptable for letting agents to exploit this demand by telling students to camp outside their offices for days, or provide huge bonds to secure a house.” Oxford Brookes University already has a similar scheme running as ‘Stu-Rental’. Cardiff Student Lettings started four years ago - with a free service for students but landlords are charged for advertising. OUSU is considering following the model, which should make profits for funding other student projects. Liverpool John Moores University joined with letting agents to launch Student Union Lettings. Only ‘approved’ landlords can advertise properties through the firm for a maximum rent of £120 per person per week. The agency markets in to the university’s 26,000 students.
 
 
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