< Research Reports

Homes fit for study

Our research has investigated the experiences of students living in the private rented sector whilst they study.
hand holding a set of keys

2022 research

In 2022 we ran a short update to the research, to inform our wider Homes fit for study project. A sample of over 300 students living in the private rented sector told us:

  • 72% are satisfied or very satisfied with their current accommodation
  • 31% have experienced damp or mould on walls or ceilings in their current accommodation
  • 30% have experienced condensation in their current accommodation
  • 33% say their accommodation is poorly insulated/draughty
  • 57% agree they limit the length of time they have the heating on to save money on energy bills
  • 39% agree they have felt uncomfortably cold in their current accommodation

The full report can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

2017 research

In 2017, we focused our research on student experiences of energy in the private rented sector, following our earlier finding that over half of respondents had felt uncomfortably cold in their homes.  We received funding from the Eaga Charitable Trust to investigate these experiences through a literature review, online survey and a series of focus groups.  We received 2509 responses to the survey from students living in the private rented sector, which was completed in January-February 2017.  Participants in both parts of the research told us about how energy featured in their experiences of finding a property and then living in rented accommodation, revealing that:

  • 29% had requested an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) but didn't receive one - and those who reported being uncomfortably cold in their accommodation were less likely to have done so.
  • 42% struggled at least from time to time to pay their energy bills, and those who reported feeling uncomfortably cold were more likely to say that paying bills was a struggle.
  • Energy bills and rent payments were the most commonly reported type of payment that respondents had found themselves unable to pay (7%).
  • 38% had experienced damp or mould on walls or ceilings in their current accommodation, and those who lived in cold homes were more likely to report this experience.
  • 9% said they didn’t have any control of the heating where they lived, with some focus group participants noting that control was retained by their landlord.
  • 55% said their accommodation was much, or a bit colder, than they would have liked over the winter, and 49% had felt uncomfortably cold in their accommodation.
  • 43% had turned their heating off even though they would have liked it on because of concerns about energy costs.

2014 research

The first Homes fit for study report considered the full experience of students living in the private rented sector. It found that over half of students have condensation; almost half have mould, and a quarter have slugs, mice or another infestation in their current home.

Added to these grim health and safety concerns, over a third of students are getting into debt to meet upfront costs to secure a property. The same amount struggle with energy bills, with almost a quarter unaware of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

We used the report to call for proper regulation of letting agents as well as proposing that an end to letting fees, as has happened in Scotland, would ensure that students have a better idea of the overall cost of renting in the private sector and can then budget accordingly.


Homes fit for study - 2014 report (NUS)Homes fit for study - 2017 - Final report - FullHomes fit for study - 2017 - Final report - Summary Homes fit for study - Full report - 2022