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Over 200 London students prepare to take legal action against their university over poor living conditions (27 July 2017)

Date: 27/07/2017
Duncan Lewis, Housing Solicitors, Over 200 London students prepare to take legal action against their university over poor living conditions

Hundreds of postgraduate students at London School of Economics (LSE) are preparing to take legal action against their university owing to the conditions of their accommodation causing illness and distress.

Students living in Sidney Webb House have posted photos of dead rodents and mould, and have made complaints of being left without heating or drinking water. The students have blamed these substandard living conditions for a number of health issues, including eye and skin infections, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulty and dizziness, with one student having been urged by his GP to urgently request he move rooms.

Furthermore, students have suffered further distress owing to disruptive and noisy construction work taking place over a seven-week period prior to exams.

The Sidney Webb House Action Group – compiled of 215 students – have made a statement on their crowdfunding page explaining the “health crises and distress” experienced by the tenants of the student accommodation, and stating the aim of their proposed legal action – to prevent other students from having their health and academic experienced damaged by such substandard living conditions. They highlighted that “The mental and physical health, academic performance and overall wellbeing of student residents was significantly impacted.”

The crowdfunding page encourages others to help “students seek justice and redress grievances”, by helping them fund legal action against LSE for a “breach of tenancy contract.”

According to the students’ description of their living conditions, it would appear that the accommodation was in a state of disrepair. When living in a rented property, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is fit for purpose, and to ensure this the landlord must carry our any necessary maintenance and repairs. Properties often fall into a state of disrepair as the result of a landlord failing in their legal obligation to carry out repairs to a rented property under the terms of the tenancy agreement or lease, and this can prove damaging to the health and welfare of tenants.

In order for a property to be fit for purpose it should be structurally stable, have effective plumbing, heating and ventilation, safe gas appliances and electrical wiring, and no issues that could make the property particularly difficult or unpleasant to live in. The students reported delays in repairs sometimes leaving them without heating or drinking water, widespread black mould exposure, and recurring issues of ventilation. Mould and ventilation issues subsequently caused upper respiratory tract infections, allergic reactions and a serious skin infection, according to the student tenants.

A spokesman for LSE has explained that they will investigate all of the issues, whilst Unite Students – the owners of the accommodation – said: “Unite Students does not accept any suggestion that the accommodation is the cause of any medical ill health.”

Dalia Jamil commented:

“Unfortunately it remains that tenants under licence agreements, such as students residing in student accommodation, do not benefit from the same degree of protection from disrepair as tenants under Assured Shorthold Tenancies; this has a direct impact on the remedies which will be available to them.”

Author Dalia Jamil is a caseworker in the Duncan Lewis Housing Department. Dalia has experience working in a wide variety of complex and high profile cases, frequently taking instruction from clients at night or during weekends on an emergency basis, specifically working with clients who are facing eviction.

Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors

If you are living in a property with substandard or inadequate conditions Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors can help. Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors can guide clients in any matter or issues arising with local housing authorities, housing applications, tenants, landlords, ownership and repairs. The Duncan Lewis housing team specialises in representation in all social housing proceedings including reviews, appeals and judicial review relating to homelessness, disrepair, succession for tenants and neighbourhood disputes against local authorities.

If you have any housing related queries or require representation please do not hesitate to contact our team of expert solicitors on 0333 772 0409.

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