Gerard Westhoff reports on the latest UCL rent strike victory
All 238 students who were living at UCL’S Hawkridge house during the rent strike have been awarded £1,197 in compensation, the equivalent of a nine week rent cut and total sum of nearly £300,000, following a long dispute with UCL management over “unacceptable” living conditions. The campaign has also secured a 25% rent cut for current residents of the hall – worth an additional £100,000.
This comes only only a month after Campbell House rent strikers were collectively awarded £100,000 in compensation for similarly “unbearable” conditions.
The rent strike, coordinated by student campaign group UCL, Cut the Rent, started back in April, after students complained about the extremely loud construction works, and the sheer number of mice in the building.
The victories were awarded at a University complaints panel hearing last Wednesday, with the panel chastising UCL management for their handling of the students grievances, declaring that they have “seriously failed” in their treatment of the strikers, and shown “a lack of empathy”.
Andres Morales Ineriano, a postrgraduate resident at Hawkridge House during the dispute, said:
“After several weeks of poor treatment in the residences and months of fighting and waiting for an answer, I finally feel like this was a positive outcome. I would not recommend UCL residences with the conditions we lived in.”
Angus O’Brien, the current UCL Union Halls & Accommodation representative, said:
“The campaigns at Hawkridge House and Campbell House will have two major ramifications for the future of the student housing movement: the basis of the relationship between university and its student residents in halls, in which the student is treated merely as a consumer fit for exploitation, has been successfully challenged; and a precedent has been set for future student action as rent strikes and disruptive forms of protest have been proven to be immensely effective.”
These latest victories at Hawkridge and Campbell House, mean that the University has now paid out nearly £500,000 in compensation for poor living conditions since the campaign began.
Featured image: UCL, Cut the Rent