A group of students living in campus accommodation at Goldsmiths, University of London have been awarded £650,000 compensation after months of protesting against “abysmal” living conditions.
Over the past year residents in Surrey House and Raymont Hall, apartment blocks situated near the campus have experienced infestations, severe delays in room repairs and excessive noise pollution caused by construction work.
Compensation has been offered to all 280 students living in both halls this academic year. The amount of compensation could amount to over £650,000 which would be in the form of a rebate from a proposed rent reduction.
Goldsmiths and Campus Living Villages (CLV), which is contracted to run the halls, are offering students a 35 per cent rent reduction, backdated to the start of their tenancy agreement. Residents also have the option to move to another Goldsmiths student residence or end their existing tenancy agreement without any financial penalty.
However, Goldsmiths’ Student’s Union say the offer is insufficient and will “continue to fight for a better deal for students.” Students have asked for a 50 per cent rent reduction.
Despite the offer, students are still concerned that building work is planned to continue until September 2017. The offer of a place in another halls is also subject to availability.
Goldsmiths Student’s Union, alongside Cut the Rent, – a student led campaign which challenges overpriced and inadequate student accommodation – have been lobbying for lower rent for residents of these halls since last year.
Eva Crossan Jory, Goldsmiths SU Campaigns and Activities Officer, wrote in her blog: “I have had countless complaints from students about the state of their halls of residences, from break-ins to not having hot water for weeks on end. It was abundantly clear that the College’s promise of improved Halls was far from a reality.”
One student, Harry O’Neill, 19, of Raymont Hall said: “My door was broken, which meant it didn’t lock properly. People from outside of the university were able to break into the halls and my room. They stole around £300 worth of my things. I didn’t really want to stay in my room afterwards.”
Most of the complaints were over continuing building work at both sites, aimed at increasing the number of flats.
CLV had planned to complete the work in the summer of 2017. However, work has continued during term-time, which led to many of the complaints.
Edward Cross, 18, a music student at Raymont Hall, said: “I was being woken up at 8 in the morning every day, and so I couldn’t cope with my day to day work very well. There was a lot of drilling which was the main problem.”
Over 100 people in both halls signed a petition demanding a 50 per cent rent reduction. They compiled videos and photos as evidence of the living conditions.
A spokesperson for Campus Living Villages said: “We’re sorry not to have met our own high standards in managing these works so we’re doing our best to put things right. In conjunction with our partners, Goldsmiths, University of London, we have offered a package of compensation options.”
A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said: “The wellbeing of students is central to everything we do at Goldsmiths. We feel this is a fair range of options – and believe it shows we have listened to students and responded quickly to their concerns.”
Goldsmiths and CLV will hold regular drop-in sessions to improve communications with students.
Follow Sundus Saeed on Twitter