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Linstead Heading Down as Rent Heads Up

Jul 30 2007 17:06
Ashley Brown
The cost of living in Imperial's halls of residence will increase by over 8.5% in the coming academic year, as the demolition of Linstead begins.
The door of Linstead caves in after Sir Richard Sykes strikes the target

The Rector began the demolition of Linstead hall today, to celebrate the start of work towards the new Eastside building which will be constructed over the next two years. Students arriving at Imperial in October will have little to celebrate however, as the cost of living in halls increases by 8.5% this year. An above-inflation rent increase, extra charges for laundry and an increase in the rental period will all hit students in the pocket to the tune of around £400.

The baseline rent increase per week is around 4.7%, bringing the cheapest en-suite room in Beit to £146.75. Laundry facilities in all halls are being replaced with coin-operated services, which will cost £1.50 per wash, with drying 50p extra on top. For those students wanting to wash clothes at least once a week this would bring the weekly increase to over 5.5%.

A further complication comes from the Easter break being a week longer, meaning hall rents must be paid for 39 weeks rather than 38. Adding this extra week - when many students will be at home and not in halls - brings the cost of the cheapest room available (in Fisher) to £3,492.84 including laundry, while the most expensive en-suite in Beit reaches £6,143. These figures represent increases of 9.2% and 8.5% respectively.

Twin rooms in the new Southside halls reach £6,127.29pa, or £6,068.79 for those willing to take their washing home with them. This is despite the rooms being too small and many of them at the front of Southside having a nice view of portacabins used during the construction of Eastside.

Those unfortunate enough to live in the distant Orient House, run by UNITE, will face a 5.1% baseline increase. College still subsidises Piccadilly Court and Orient House to the tune of around £1m per year, so had little option but to pass on the increase they were charged this year.

There is some good news, with an extension to Garden Hall providing additional cheap(er) accomodation within Princes Gardens. Rooms in Fisher also remain below the £100 mark despite its current refurbishment. For the first time students will be able to choose which hall they would like to live in, meaning those unable to afford the £6k+ for Beit and Southside can opt for a sub-£4k hall such as Wilson House. Whether this results in rich students living right next to the campus and poorer students being forced to move away remains to be seen, but it is a more acceptable proposition than poorer students being forced into heavy debts after being assigned an expensive hall they cannot afford.

All students will still have access to the Ethos gym for free, with those in Prince's Gardens in prime position to take use of the facilities. Live! hopes they do, as hall rents are at their current levels in part to subsidise free gym membership for the whole student body.

The new Eastside development will more than double the number of beds in those halls, moving from 180 in the current building to over 400 in the new one. The gains are made by more efficient use of space and a much wider building, stretching the full length of Prince's Gardens. The new building will include a bar when it is completed in 2009, the design of which has not been finalised - those seeking a Southside-style bar should speak up now!

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Discussion about “Linstead Heading Down as Rent Heads Up”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jul 30 2007 21:43

So, these new freshers are subsidising the free gym and swim for all the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students who did not have to pay such a ridiculous rental increase?

Does the Union have any say over the hall room prices? I remember discussions about it in Felix 2 years ago but this is getting more and more ludicrous. Coin-operated laundry machines ?!?! They'll be charging students to change the light bulbs and provide sub-standard bog roll next!

At least this new system will stop Imperial Rugby team coming in to Beit Hall to wash all their team jerseys for free on a weekly basis :p

Jul 30 2007 22:03

It's alright Eugene, don't get your knickers in a twist, we use the free kit washing machines in the west basement to wash the team kit, not the Beit washing machines...

And it wouldn't stop us using them, we'd just beat up some RCC types and steal their washing money instead...

3. Simon   
Jul 31 2007 11:59

Does the union have anything to say? Let's just say that if the Union hadn't fought quite hard, the coin opperated machines would not only be more expensive, but they would have probably "forgotten" to subtract the part of the ameneties charge which had previously covered the use of washing machines. Compared to mates of mine that i have visited in other Uni's, the prices arent that bad

Last i heard, the new machines should also be much bigger, so you will get a lot more into a wash.

Not defending the idea, i am still dubious about it myself, however it is nowhere near as bad as people seem to be representing.

Now when it comes to rents, i am pretty disgusted, however with high demand for Halls accomodation, reduced numbers of avaliable rooms (College are even talking about stopping guaranteeing all Freshers Halls accomodation last i heard), and old cheap rooms being replaced with new expensive ones, the College kinda have students over a barrel, where the only option to protest the exhorbitant rent is to turn down accomodation and look privately (and miss on all the halls social scene).

Not an amazing state of affairs, with this and top-up fees one wonders if the College sees students as anything more than bags full of money which come in full and must be squezed as as empty as possible.

Simon Nance

Fisher Rep to Halls Commitee (06-07)

Clayponds Rep to Accomodation Commitee (05-06)

Jul 31 2007 16:46

I can see one reason why college has high rents. It is near impossible to find somewhere in London to stay (including rent, ammenities, transport) for less than 100 pp pw. If hall rents were in the 60 pp pw range, you may get a lot of people unable to afford london accommodation in their later years, who have to drop out of college through financial reasons. If hall rents are more or less reflective of private accommodation costs this problem is made smaller, as high rent is brought to peoples attention when applying to university/choosing firm choice. However it is not great that people may miss out studying at Imperial or indeed London in general due to the sheer cost of it.

5. G-man   
Jul 31 2007 18:16

" those seeking a Southside-style bar should speak up now!"

where??how ??when??

the last thing we want is a harringtons repeat! or worse a da vincis!!!!

Jul 31 2007 18:18

Contact the DPEW and starting making a fuss in Felix...

7. Simon   
Jul 31 2007 19:05

"Felix"...... what is this thing of which you speak?

As far as the bar goes, we have a bunch of beer-drinking RSM louts in Beit Towers next year, which might bode well.

Andrew, though i agree with you somewhat, i canot say that getting students even MORE into debt in their first year (in my experience, a substantial amount of rent gets paid for by student loan) will if anything DECREASE their chance of continuing their degree.

The purpose of halls accomodation is to give students an environment where they can get used to the difficulties of looking after their selves, not to screw them out of as much money as possible, even if that is "the facts of life" in the London housing market (which peolpe are generaly well aware of anyway!). And i must say, some halls accomodation seems positively overpriced.

Jul 31 2007 20:45

I agree that they are high. And I think that college, if not reduce them, should maintain them at the current level for several years, then increase them at the rate of inflation. However, gone are the days when students are happy with a narrow bed, a wonky wardrobe and a desk with a tatty lumpy surface. They want more, and so prices go up. And as long as college keep on getting more and more applicants they have no incentive to reduce rents. Fish in a barrel.

Jul 31 2007 22:45

Let's face it though, the rooms you get in college Halls are desperately small compared to anything you'd get outside of London. This rental increase has nothing to do with people wanting and getting better rooms - the rooms and furniture are staying the same-bed, desk, chair, lamp. It's all about College squeezing extra money out of the students to pay for other things, which is completely wrong given that the Rector wants bright students of any background to be able to come to Imperial.

Now, even a maximum student loan is not enough to cover the cost of an ensuite room in Beit. Surely the college could see that this is a major deterrent to potential students unless they A)stop inflating rental prices at the rate house prices are going B)offer help towards room rent for poor students.

10. Eugene   
Jul 31 2007 22:53

@ Simon:

If I recall correctly, amenities charges when I was a fresher was around ?27 a term. I think students will be paying significantly more than this overall if they are to pay for laundry seprately from amenities.

Machines getting bigger - they claim this, but again I am dubious - the current washing machines and dryers are probably bordering on industrial anyway, they are much larger than average family machines so I think they'd struggle to get it any larger. Larger also equals less machines in the same space so more queues for laundry.

@ Luke:

Good to see you still on Live! during holidays too... as for stealing RCC money, you're better off looking at ACC underspends - it might be more than RCC's entire budget!

11. Simon   
Jul 31 2007 23:39

Andrew, as a resident in halls for 4 years, i have lived in amongst the best (newly refurbished Bernard Sunley) and the worst (2 years in Clayponds, and a year in Fisher as a Re-app). I have HAD the narrow bed, the c**ppy desk lamp, the 7 foot by 6 foot room, the ants in the kitchen, the leaking ceilings, the peeling paint, oven from the 1970s, and the manky carpet. And though i wasnt "happy" (in fairness, who ever is), i could live with it, and did. Not only that, but the furniture is pretty much standardised across all halls (though kitchens vary).

The obcene thing is charging commercial rates for such accomodation (Fisher for example is getting close, and it's a "cheap" hall). Especially when the college is supposed to be an educational estabishment, not a commercial money-maker.

When the halls NEED a refurb because college is so negligent as to let halls get into the state Fisher and Wilson are in (and Linstead and Southside where in), believing propper maintainance should be replaced with fixing things so broken that people complain for a week or five (sometimes that bad, sometimes not), and THEN make students bend over and take the cost of it all like good little money cows....... THATS when i get p***ed.

Eugene, from memory the math worked out as the reduction from ammeneties working out at about a wash & dry cycle per week, or maybe slightly less. Likewise, i thik the ratio of machines per student drops slightly, but only by a tiny margin (something like 37 students per machine to 40 per machine off the top of my head), but hopefully the larger and more efficient machines will counteract that. Likewise, halls was pretty dire at FIXING washing machines, so outsourcing to a contractor who is loosing money by down-time should mean better repair services (fingers crossed).

Unfortunately the minutes of the Halls Committee meetings this last year seem to be pretty elusive, or i would try and post some links, however as i mentioned, you have to be thankful for all the hard work done by people behind the scenes to prevent the charges being higher, and the coresponding "rent inc laundry" rises quoted in the article looking more like 14% in some halls, luckily someone at Beit Towers this year knew who's ear to bend in order to get things done......

Likewise, finally for the first time there is the ability to select rent brackets on the application for halls accomodation, something that is more and more needed with the increasing price hikes, and means that students can pick accomodation more easily that will suit their means. THAT has been a battle fought for probably longer than i have been at uni, and people should thank the persistent hacks that quietly sort things like that so people like you and i dont have to worry so much.

Aug 01 2007 09:13

Even more importantly my cup of (badly) filtered coffee is up 12.6% this morning.

What's the union going to do about that then hey?

Aug 01 2007 12:48

In 2002-03, Beit was 87 for the smallest ensuites. he next year, that was over 100 i believe.

I recall having a conversation saying that Imperial were not allowed by law to subsidise the halls (or at least subsidise them heavily) when compared to surrounding accomodation... can someone check that?

Aug 01 2007 14:41

A mate of mine was in a Beit en-suite single in 2002/3, paying ?93/wk. The following year, someone from my course was paying ?125/wk for the same room, which came to a considerable amount more than her entire student loan for the year. Private accommodation can be found for much less, but I imagine it is more difficult for first years to do this as they don't normally have a group of people to club together for somewhere, so they end up being ripped off in Halls instead.

15. yup   
Aug 02 2007 10:23

It can be found for 'much less', although herein lies the rub: it won't be in South Kensington. As long as Imperial halls are in SK, they will charge astronomical prices.

Obligatory nostalgia moment: I remember I paid about 72 quid a week for an old Southside room - top floor, gorgeous view, and the place hadn't properly started to fall apart.

16. Jon   
Aug 03 2007 12:56

We lived in a house just off North End Road - 30min walk to college - until a year ago paying ?66 a week (we split that 71/71/66/66/56 for different size rooms. That included 2 bathrooms, a living room and a garden and water bills. I was paying just under ?100 for my room in Beit Hall in 2002/03, and I currently pay about ?250 a week on my mortgage for my own flat... ?155 p/w is rediculous.

Aug 15 2007 00:01

this is pathetic! rates are a rip off as it is esspecially for non SK halls. Not only are rents increasing but many halls are slacking when it comes to providing a good social enviornment. Are hall minutes & budgets public domain like for clubs and committees?

Considering that when people move into halls they live with people they don't know anyway can't the union provide more help for freshers to find flats to live in?

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