Students at Kings Hall Road halls run by the University of Sussex have forced the institution to meet all their demands after just four days.
The group of 30 voted to withhold their rent over with pest problems, broken utilities and redevelopment disruption after it emerged that the university was paying a £230,000 “golden hello” to new vice chancellor Michael Farthing.
In a statement, renters’ union Acorn, which was involved in organising the strike, reported:
After negotiations earlier today, the rent strike has been called off.
The deal includes £515 of compensation per student, alongside 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.
Akane Hirabayashi, a first year student and Kings Rd. resident said:
‘It’s a huge victory. I can’t believe we’ve won so fast! The residents of Kings Rd. 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.’
Duncan Michie, ACORN organiser and third year Sussex student said: “This deal is an impressive victory for the union. We’re proud to have been able to protect our members’ interests and prove that real power comes from organising and taking action.”
A demonstration on Sussex campus, initially intended to put pressure on the university to meet the rent strikers’ demands, has been turned into a celebration rally.
“This victory is only one small step in solving the Brighton housing crisis,” said ACORN member Ellie Ferguson. “Now, we need to continue to get organised. Our union branch is only just beginning to take the fight to the landlords. There is so much more to be done in rented accomodation all across the city, not just in student halls.”
But the rent strike isn’t the only victory of the day – Brighton ACORN have also announced that they have resolved a dispute with the My Lets letting agency. A non-student tenant has had a part of their deposit repaid following the renters’ union’s intervention. Marta Daian, Kings Rd. resident, said: “Our union doesn’t just fight for students, it fights for everyone – and when it fights, it wins.”