COUNTY NEWS: Students celebrate victory after rent strike threat over halls

ACORN members following the successful negotiations
ACORN members following the successful negotiations
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University of Sussex students have declared victory in a protest over ‘high rents for dilapidated and unsanitary conditions in university accommodation’.

Supported by the Brighton ACORN renters’ union, more than a third of the 110 residents of Kings Road Hall had threatened to withhold their rent until full repairs were carried out and tenants were adequately compensated for disruption caused by building work.

Students had also alleged the block suffers ‘rodent infestations’, broken appliances, and that some flats are without hot water.

The university said it was addressing ‘temporary issues’ but it did not recognise all of the claims.

Four days after the rent strike was called, the union said all its demands were met in negotiations with the university on Thursday.

The deal includes £515 of compensation per student, a guarantee that all necessary repairs will be carried out before the spring term and that the process for reporting problems with accommodation will be redesigned.

Akane Hirabayashi, a first year student and Kings Road resident, said: “It’s a huge victory. I can’t believe we’ve won so fast! The residents of Kings Road are thrilled that our demands have been met in full. We are very happy that the university has proven so willing to listen to the concerns of students.”

Duncan Michie, ACORN organiser and third year Sussex student, said: “This deal is an impressive victory for the union. We’re proud to have been able to protect our members’ interests and prove that real power comes from organising and taking action.”

A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “Through constructive discussions with our students and the Students’ Union we have been able to reach an agreement today. The University takes great care to ensure that its students experience a high quality of accommodation – if this is not being met, then we will take swift action to rectify matters.

"We have now put in place additional measures to ensure there is enhanced communication with students regarding housing so that situations do not get to this stage in the future. Listening to our students on the issues they care about will always be our top priority.”