YUSU and Citizens Advice: York Students’ Mental Health Damaged by Private Renting Problems

The research also found that over three in ten students reported pest or insect infestations.

(Image: Iwan Stone)

Over a quarter of students have suffered from mental health difficulties because of issues with private accommodation, a new survey has found.

The survey from YUSU and Citizens Advice York (CAY), with over 600 students responding, revealed that 27% of students experienced mental health difficulties as a result of private housing issues, while 47% said that repairs had not been carried out in a reasonable timeframe, and 31% reported pest or insect infestations in their homes. 

High rental costs in York meant that over half of students spent over 60% of their monthly income on rent.

Harry, a Second Year student in York, responded to the survey saying: “I have had to cut down [on] how much food I am able to buy … it is quite a struggle, York seems to be getting more expensive to live as a student.”

YUSU President Patrick O’Donnell said that the research “exposes real flaws across York’s private rented sector, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on some of the particular vulnerabilities that renters, including students, face.  

“We found that poor conditions, poor property management and the hazards such as pest infestations and overcrowding were commonplace features of York’s housing market.  For all too many students, their time renting marked a low point of student life in York, with bad, substandard conditions impacting mental and physical health.” 

The City of York Council is consulting residents on a proposal to extend their household licensing scheme to include smaller multiple occupancy households.  

If approved, the measures would introduce new controls in areas with the highest number and concentration of Houses of Multiple Occupation, which YUSU and CAY say would ensure that private rented properties in York meet basic housing standards for tenants. 

YUSU and CAY have encouraged students to take part in this consultation to ensure their needs are met in the private housing sector.

The Council’s consultation can be found here.