Picture this;


It’s the 24th of August, 2023. After living with a whopping six other people to afford rent, for your final year of university, you and your friends decided to downsize to only a group of four, much to the chagrin of your wallets. After picking up your keys, you open the door, ready to unpack your bags and set up your life for the year ahead (or should I say, the 39 week contract ahead).


When you swing the door open, you see a box cutter on the floor. 


Uh oh.


In an attempt to avoid box cutter while bringing the first of your (many) bags, you end up falling against the wall. When you regain your balance, you find that the white paint of the hallway has  transferred to your new black trousers. 


After setting your bags down in your room, you explore where you will be living for the academic year and find a myriad of troubles; mould growing in the showers, damp in the kitchen, broken washing machines, plants growing in window frames, broken and missing radiators, and more. 


As a prospective university student, this sounds like a stress dream I had before I sent in my UCAS application. To Ava, a 21-year-old University of Sussex student I interviewed, this was her reality.


“I hated it,” she said, “It was disgusting, and it was ugly.”


After the standard first year in halls, university students looking for independence are thrust into the unforgiving world of the housing market. As first time renters, many are not experienced in the processes involved in finding quality accommodation - besides, in Brighton, that high standard housing is not without a hefty price tag. With universities such as Brighton and Sussex, there is an obvious demand for student accommodation in Brighton and Hove. With higher demand, this increases the ability for landlords to increase asking price, resulting in not only in higher rent for students, but also families that live in Brighton already. The increased rent has also spread to local towns as well. 


The increased need results in people renting out housing that is perhaps not up to scratch. Poor housing obviously has many effects. For a student, there is obviously the disruption of the study space, but in the general it can effect mental wellbeing and physical health, such as respiratory illnesses caused by damp and mould in severe cases.


It seems that every university student, graduated or otherwise, has some sort of horror story when it comes to student housing, whether it be roommates or the accommodation itself. Plenty of students end up in a mouldy house that eats up the better part of your maintenance loan, so if anything you can use it as an ice-breaker when talking to your classmates… Or, at least that’s what I’m telling myself as I gear up for university (!).