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Ripped-off students withhold their rent

Sussex University accused of providing ‘uninhabitable’ rooms

SUSSEX University students are withholding their rent in protest at paying through the nose for their crummy accommodation.

More than a third of the 110 residents of Kings Road Hall in Brighton are staging an indefinite rent strike until buildings are fully repaired and tenants compensated in cash.

The strike comes just days after it was reported that Sussex had awarded former vice-chancellor Michael Farthing a £230,000 leaving bonus.

Third-year chemistry student Duncan Michie said: “If they can spare the hundreds of thousands of pounds for university bosses, they can spare at least as much to compensate students enduring squalid housing conditions.”

Students have complained that “constant construction work” has left rooms “uninhabitable due to noise and dust pollution.”

As well as partial refunds of their £502 monthly rent and immediate repairs, they are calling for free travelcards to compensate for having to leave their rooms much more frequently.

The strike is being supported by the Acorn tenants’ union, which has 15,000 members across Britain.

Another striker, first-year international relations student Laura Stevens, said: “When I came to Brighton I was so excited to live in a great city.

“This accommodation has been a horrible shock. Universities shouldn’t rent out halls that are in such bad condition. I just want a flat without mice and black mould that I can afford: it’s not too much to ask.”

The university offered a £35-per-month refund on rent but students have rejected this as “insulting.” They have demanded £100 a month instead.

An Acorn spokesman said: “Britain has thousands of dodgy landlords who make their money by renting poor-quality accommodation for extortionate prices. Sadly, the managers of the University of Sussex are no different.”

A university spokeswoman said: “All of the university’s managed accommodation, whether it is on campus or in the city, meets our quality standards. We regularly check all of our properties and ask that our students report any maintenance requirements so they can be rectified quickly.

“Whilst we are already addressing some temporary issues, we don’t recognise all of the claims that have been put forward, but we are in active discussions with the students’ union and directly with our students about these.”

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