An advertisement for a ‘box room’ for rent for £74 a week in Lewisham has been removed from a housing site, having sparked criticism among Twitter users and students.
The single room, based on Elverson Road, was advertised on www.spareroom.co.uk, a housing website popular among students and young professionals , and included a photograph that showed a make-shift ‘bed’ on top of a desk, and loose wires and cables hanging from the ceiling.
A new report Homes Fit For Study by the National Union of Students (NUS) has revealed that over three quarters of students have problems with their privately rented accommodation, and over a fifth of students have to rely on borrowed money from family, friends or a partner to cover their accommodation costs.
Reuben Chatterjee, 21, a BA Sociology student at Goldsmiths College said: “Paying £74 a week for basically a little shed in London, is to be fair very cheap, but I think it’s questionable whether it’s okay to offer it as a room anyway, because it does not seem habitable.”
Robyn McPadden, 20, a third year student at Goldsmiths College said: “I think it is is absolutely atrocious, the state of the room is awful. If I was placed in a desperate housing situation, I really hope I would not choose to live in a room like that.”
The tiny room was available to rent in a house shared with seven other tenants, and amounts to £296 per calendar month. The advertisement said: ‘You would share the house with easy going people from Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Portugal.’
Director of Generation Rent, an organisation that campaigns for professionally managed, decent and affordable privately rented homes, Alex Hilton told News Shopper: “These adverts display the depths that the housing market in London has sunk to. Landlords are getting away with dolling out smaller spaces to people desperate for a room over their head.”
Hilton also took to Twitter to express his feelings towards the room. He said: ‘This is the crap you get for £74 a week in Lewisham,’ and posted the link to the sparerooms.co.uk advertisement.
The NUS report also states that students living in more expensive cities are more likely to face problems with housing. Those who are on tight budgets like students and young professionals are often forced into unsuitable properties.
Jim Power Co-Owner of the New Cross branch of estate agents, Peter James branch said: “The image is hideous. It looks as if the owner has tried to cram in as many people as possible. I suspect the landlord of this property does not have a HMO license, due to the poor conditions. I’d be very surprised if they did.”
The NUS says that universities should consider forging collaborative relationships with their students’ unions to ensure they play an active role in supporting students in the private rented sector, and undertake further research into the student sector to ensure students understand their rights when renting.
Lewisham’s Strategic Housing Market assessment (SHMA) has reported that 33,922 households across the borough were assessed as living in unsuitable housing, and official statistics show that Lewisham is amongst the most deprived local authority areas in England, being placed in the worst 20 percent of the country.