Opinion: ‘Bed in a shed’, could it get worse in London?

Bed in a shed on Spareroom.co.uk

Bed in a shed on Spareroom.co.uk - Credit: Archant

The ‘bed in the shed’ fiasco is yet another reason why we need rent regulation in London, says Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

Among London students there often seems to be a quality of one-up-man ship when it comes to terrible housing stories. So when news broke last week that Spareroom.co.uk had been advertising a property where instead of a bedroom the new tenant would have been sleeping on a “bed in a shed” in the living room, among my peers it seemed to encourage a splurge of impressively bad tales of bogus landlords, properties with damp growing from every surface and excessive estate agent fees.

Although Joe Peduzzi, the man who brought the story of the room to the press after viewing the property, was no longer a student, his experiences rang true of many. In my time as a student I viewed four-bed homes where we were expected to pay over £2,000 per month despite the fact that one of the bedrooms was a cupboard and there was no living space; homes where beds were cordoned off in living rooms by thin, changing room partitions; homes where the mould in the walls was so excessive that it formed bubbles under the cracking paint and yet still were on the market for far above our budget. The landlords knew of our desperation and naivety and catered to it.

While several newspapers reported that Joe laughed himself “down the road back to the tube,” after his viewing, it’s not as simple as that for everyone. Reports have differed on the price of the room (some say the shed bed was going for £480 while others say £530), but for its location the room was actually reasonably priced, and for many students, price is the key issue.

As explored in our Student Luxury feature this week, student accommodation is only becoming more expensive for those studying in London, with a new report this week finding that the foreign student lettings market is worth £600 million and is key factor in driving up rental prices.

While it’s fantastic that there’s such a diversity of students from a range of different countries studying in London, unfortunately due to the cost of studying abroad they tend to be the affluent type who can afford pricier properties than average UK students.

I’m certain that some kind of rent regulation will come with time, especially if we keep doing what student union’s and campaign groups such as Generation Rent are doing and kicking up a fuss, but seriously – the regulation can’t come soon enough.