Sussex rent strike a success as students win £64,000 in compensations

Any cash for me?

On Monday 11, we announced that a group of Sussex students had organised a rent strike against the conditions of their Kings Road accommodation. After a mere few days, they have announced that they have won compensation up to £64,000 which is made up of personal reparations for the students and repair costs for the halls.

The strikers were awarded £515 each and a promise that repairs of the halls would be carried out by the university as soon as possible. The students have now called off their rent strike after four days of announcing it.

The deal includes a guarantee that all necessary repairs will be carried out before the beginning of the Spring term and that the process for reporting problems with accommodation will be totally redesigned.

Previous demands of a travel card for each of the student strikers was scrapped in favour of a more monetary reimbursement.

The strike was spurred on by the revelation that Michael Farthing, previous Vice-Chancellor of Sussex University, was given almost a quarter of a million pounds as a leaving bonus. Students who currently lived at Kings Road Flats felt as if this was grossly unfair as their accommodation suffered from infestations, lack of hot water, and building work that was adding to dust and noise pollution.

The rent strike was thus a response to this where students felt that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

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.”

A protest was originally planned to be held outside Sussex House today (December 14) at 4 pm, however, this has instead turned into a celebration rally where the official announcement of the victory has been revealed to the public.

The mood was jolly at the gathering. Students joined one another, carrying flags and beer, to celebrate their quick victory against the university. Callum Cant, one of the organisers of the protest, took to a megaphone to explain to the crowd the intricacies of the victory including news of another victory they secured for a separate case.

Callum jokingly said that ACORN Brighton –  the Brighton-based renting union that has been aiding the rent strike – had been on average winning £32000 a month for the cases they’ve been taking on. He was joined by other student activists who took to the megaphone to have their say on the case.

The university was said to be very helpful and sympathetic to the students living at Kings Road and decided to help out as quickly as they could when they had assessed the accommodation’s condition first hand.

The rally wanted to reinforce the fact that students, or indeed anyone, should not be bullied by letting agencies or suffer from bad living conditions and that this success should encourage others to speak out.