This paper examines the extent to which law and regulation protects students renting from private individuals or private companies, as opposed to universities, in both of the main types of student accommodation, the private rented sector (PRS) and purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). It first examines the different problems faced by students in both tenure types, notably issues of repair and the failure of PBSA providers to complete accommodation in time for the beginning of term. Secondly, it considers consumerisation of private renting and the extent to which a consumer protection law approach can assist tenants generally, and students specifically. Thirdly, the paper explains how power relationships between students and landlords and issues with access to legal advice restrict access to justice for student as tenants. It is argued that whilst consumer contract law and consumer protection law have something to offer student tenants (particularly in the PBSA) a generic consumer approach to the rights of tenants is insufficient because the nature of the landlord and tenant relationship inhibits access to legal redress. It is concluded that in addition to improved consumer protections, a proactive approach by both local authorities and universities could significantly improve the experiences of students.
- property law
- private rented sector
- purpose-built student accommodation