Students have been “let down” by private landlords in Brighton and Hove according to the Student Union.

A survey by Sussex University's Student Union revealed students looking to rent accommodation can find it a stressful and expensive process.

This is because of high demand for insufficient properties in a poor condition with rent that is often far too expensive for the quality provided.

In its annual Rate Your Landlord report, based on the response of 1,586 students, the union found a third of students felt under pressure to pay fees immediately in order to secure a house they had viewed.

Mould was reported as one of the most common problems faced by students living in the private sector with only a small proportion reporting their property manager took any effective action to solve the problem.

Almost half of all respondents received their deposit back in full but among those who had their deposit withheld (either in full or partially) only a small percentage felt the deductions were reasonable.

Sophie van der Ham, Students' Union Welfare Officer, said: “This report shows that students are a particularly vulnerable group of users renting in the private rented sector.

“Often students are living independently of their parents for the first time, and don't have the experience and information needed to make informed decisions about properties.

“Students need specific, accessible and clear information available to them about landlords, letting agents, properties, and their rights.

"There are also inequalities and specific issues within the student population, with non-UK students at a particular disadvantage when they are required to provide a UK-based guarantor to letting agents.”

The union is lobbying for greater regulation of the private rented sector as well as a reduction in the fees students must pay to private landlords and an improvement in property standards.

Brighton and Hove City Council introduced new rules about small student lets and houses in multiple occupation in April this year.

The rules applied to the five wards with the highest concentration of students: Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Queen's Park, and St Peters and North Laine.

The changes meant planning permission was needed to change a family house into one for multiple occupancy.

The council also reminded students that private landlords were subject to the national Housing Health and Safety Rating System and could take enforcement action if a landlord failed to fix a problem sufficiently.