Student Housing is consistently a hot topic for our students every year. Our Elected Officers have campaigned to improve the situation in the private rented sector for many years, and we’re proud that 2019 saw a great turning point for all students at Cardiff University and across the whole of Wales. The Students’ Union partnered with Citizens Cymru to host 350 community leaders at our Citizens Assembly in February 2019 and secured a public commitment from the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford AM that letting agency fees would be prohibited in Wales by September 2019
We are delighted that the ban is now in place across Wales and we believe it is a huge win for students who will save millions of pounds each year. Campaigning on issues that are important to students is a core pillar of what the Students’ Union does, and a win like this highlights how anything is possible when people come together to create a change.
Meeting with the First Minister of Wales and Minister for Housing and Local Government
On Wednesday 18th September, the Sabbatical Officers met with First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford AM, and Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James AM to thank them for sticking by their commitment. Our work on campaigning in this area is by no means over, and this meeting marked the next phase of our housing campaign and our priorities for the year ahead.
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said:
“The Welsh Government is working to protect tenants and we’ve recently taken action to end the practice of charging tenants’ unfair fees by passing the Renting Homes (Wales) (Fees etc.) Act. Now people cannot be charged for such things as an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy.
“The new law aims to ensure renting under an assured shorthold tenancy in Wales is more affordable and transparent and tenants will no longer face significant and unreasonable fees when they start renting.
“Students in Wales can contact their local authority or Rent Smart Wales if they think they have been charged for something they should not have been.”
Jackie Yip, Students’ Union President 2019-20 is pleased with the progress so far. She commented:
“We were delighted to meet the First Minister in September. We would like to thank everyone involved in securing the ban of letting agency fees. In particular, we would like to acknowledge all the work done over the years by NUS Wales and Universities across Wales. Our joint commitment to ensuring a fairer system for students has led to this great success. The Elected Officers and I are excited to lead the next phase of the campaign focusing on the standard of student accommodation in the private sector.”
What the future holds for our Student Housing Campaign
Your newly elected Sabbatical Officers Jackie, James and Nick spoke about the horror stories we all know too well. From the poor quality of accommodation rented, to issues around receiving security deposits back at the end of the tenancy and many more issues. Although we recognise that many students have a completely positive experience in the private rented sector, we know that there are still some students who get the short end of the stick. That is why our campaign continues with a focus on gaining more insight from students.
This autumn we will be knocking on hundreds of doors to gain a better picture of student experiences. We want to gather stories of both good and bad experiences and use these to inform our research for the next phase of our campaign. We plan to present these findings to Julie James AM, who has committed to a second meeting in January 2020.
If you would like to be part of the campaign, please get in touch by emailing James Wareham, VP Welfare, at VPWelfare@cardiff.ac.uk.
Cardiff Student Letting
We are pleased that we led the way when it came to student housing fees. The Students’ Union’s own letting agency, Cardiff Student Letting, was launched in 2006 to cater specifically for the student market in Cardiff and has never charged fees to students.
If you are currently experiencing issues with your housing then get in touch with our Student Advice team who will be able to help.