Rocketing Rent

Local councillor urges university to create another college to combat rapidly rising house prices

In the wake of rocketing house prices, local councillor David Stoker has urged Durham to create another college to “enhance the student experience”. 

The statement came after a Tab investigation that found some landlords were increasing their prices by 13% a year, well above the 2.9% level of inflation (RPI).

Alicia from Hild Bede is one such case. She lived in a bills excluded six-person flat on North road, which was priced at £82 per week in the 2011/12 academic year, £85 this year, and is going up to £93 next year. Stocker explained the rapid rise in economic terms, “private student rent prices in Durham are down to supply and demand”.

Peter Smith from Durham student accommodation Bill Free Homes told The Tab that there are three factors which have influenced the recent hike in Durham prices: rising energy costs, increasing costs of complying with legislation, and rising expectations of tenants.

Smith explains, “Students have higher expectations than they did even five years ago… Large screen TVs are now expected as are modern furniture and well provisioned kitchens.”

There is little alternative to living out, however, with it becoming increasingly difficult to get rooms in college.  This is partly due to there not being enough college-owned accommodation to house all Durham students.

However, living-in is often unappealing for those who want to steer clear of college food or less than desirable college locations. Moreover, NUS figures show that the average weekly rent in university-owned accommodation has been far from stagnant, nearly doubling from £59.17 in 2001 to £117.67 in 2011.

Figures also reveal that the average price of private student accommodation is £140. This may seem significantly more than what the majority of Durham students pay, normally less than £100, but the price rises are nevertheless painful at a time of rising fees.

With the housing rush for the best pads in Durham starting progressively earlier each year, there seems very little students can do slow down the rocketing rent increases.