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Students in Durham Sleep on Streets to Secure Housing

Posted by Calum Martin in

Image courtesy of Flickr, (View licence)

Students at the University of Durham have resorted to sleeping outside of letting agents in order to secure housing for the 2023/24 academic year.

Hundreds of students in the city joined the queues to secure accommodation for next year in advance, with some students reporting queries dating back to June 2022 for October 2023 rentals.

One letting agent, Frampton & Roebuck, released all of their properties for the 2023/24 season onto the market at once, causing huge queues outside of their Durham shop.

Students have reported inadequate rooms in the city with complaints over black mould, damaged ceilings, poor quality toilets and small bedrooms.

Amongst the queuing students are house-hunting first years, who only arrived in the city around three weeks ago.

Speaking to the Northern Echo, one student commented "The atmosphere in Durham has totally changed today, everyone seems panicked and anxious.

"People are looking through listings in lectures and at the college dining hall - it is all anyone will talk about. There has a lot of pressure to find people that I want to live with."

The issue is likely due to rising student numbers in the city outstripping supply.

Rex Munson, the Junior Common Room President of St Mary's College, commented: "The current second year is the biggest year that Durham has seen, and the number of students is higher than the university would like."

One letting agent explained: "Durham Council will only let around 10 per cent of houses in a certain area be converted into student housing - so we have run out of properties."

Mary Foy, Labour MP for Durham, said: "This is quite simply ludicrous. The housing market is simply not working for residents or students in our city."

Durham's Student Union president, Joe McGarry, commented: "There is a housing crisis in Durham. Students looking for housing right now know that the cost and availability of houses mean they risk not being able to find somewhere affordable."

"Durham has too many students for the size of the city, and not enough planning has gone into this. The University has a responsibility to the students they recruit and admit, and have a duty of care to students whether they live in university-managed accommodation or not."

A spokesperson for Durham University said: "We work hard to support our students across both academic and non-academic matters, including working with Durham Students' Union and student leaders as appropriate."