More than 100 students have received payouts after preparing a class action lawsuit against the London School of Economics over their “appalling” living conditions.
Students complained of mice infestations, mould, rubbish, lack of hot water and heating. A number alleged they had become ill because of the accommodation’s failings.
The students, all postgraduates from overseas, were paying £9,000 a year to live in Sidney Webb House, near Borough Market, which was managed by Unite Housing.
They claimed their “unhygienic and inhospitable conditions” included black mould, dust and litter as well as construction noise. But when their complaints fell on “deaf ears”, some 120 students signed up to a class action lawsuit and raised more than £5,000 to pay for experts to help their case.
The university, which initially resisted the claims, has now settled, paying out an estimated £60,000 in compensation — £500 for each student. The students’ lawyer David Greene, senior partner and head of litigation at firm Edwin Coe, said more than 450 had been affected.
He said: “The accommodation was damp, unheated and lacked hot water for extended periods causing students to fall ill. Complaints made by students fell on deaf ears. Eventually students came to us and we worked with them to crowdfund a small amount to pay for experts to examine the mould that was caused by the conditions.”
The Sidney Webb Action Group said they were “very pleased with the result”, adding: “LSE and Unite Students have also made a commitment to monitor and improve the provision of services within Sidney Webb House for the upcoming academic year.
“Furthermore, the university has made assurances to improve their complaints procedures for all of the residents in LSE accommodation and that the university’s legal team would, subject to approval by the relevant bodies, produce a new procedure for the 2018-19 academic year.”
A spokesman for the LSE said the building was renovated last summer. He added: “We are pleased a resolution has been agreed with the students affected.” Unite Housing declined to comment.