Student management

Glasgow student’s mum calls for action to tackle city’s rental crisis

A disabled student is forced to pay £800 a week to stay in a hotel in Glasgow because she is unable to find suitable accommodation.

Aishwarya Balasubramanian has cerebral palsy and relies on a tripod to get around safely, but the 20-year-old is struggling to find an apartment due to the ongoing rental crisis in the city.

Despite contacting more than 15 letting agents, she says apartments are being bought up before she’s even had a chance to see them – with some properties receiving up to 450 inquiries from house hunters desperate.

Aishwarya, who has secured a placement at Glasgow Women’s Library at Bournemouth University, says she cannot continue living in a hotel without amenities and is desperate for a place to put down roots.

Mum Usha, 52, accompanied her daughter to town and says she was shocked at the lack of readily available accommodation for students.

Aishwarya and Usha BalasubramanianAishwarya and mom Usha Balasubramanian

She told the Glasgow Times: ‘My daughter needs help crossing roads safely and with other tasks due to her disability. I decided to join her in Glasgow for a few months to help her adapt to her new environment.

“We expected to find a nice apartment to rent quite easily, but I was shocked to see how the rental market is paralyzed here. We contacted many rental agents, but as soon as an apartment appears, it was gone in a few hours.

“The worst thing is landlords are asking for six months rent up front, which most people just don’t get without going into debt.

“We are now paying £800 a week to stay in a basic hotel with no cooking facilities. My daughter will be in town for about eight months and we don’t want to continue with this level of expense.

“We need a nice, safe apartment for her to move into or even share with someone. So far we’ve had absolutely no luck and I just hope something happens soon.

Aishwarya and Usha BalasubramanianAishwarya Balasubramanian

According to data from Citylets, the average property rent in Glasgow has increased significantly in the first quarter of 2022, with rates showing an annual growth of 16% bringing the average monthly rent to £972.

One-bedroom properties are the fastest, with most gone in just 11 days. In total, 51% of T2s are rented within a week and 91% within a month of being put on the market.

Glasgow’s average rental time has fallen to 14 days – 16 days faster than in 2021 – indicating how competitive the private rental market has become in the city.

The disability of the student in media and communication does not allow her to broaden her real estate search because she must be close to her internship.

Usha explains, “My daughter struggles to walk any distance because of her cerebral palsy and she really needs to be close.

“We’ve been told that an unprecedented number of inquiries means rental demand exceeds availability. But something needs to be done about it.

“I would like to see my daughter happy and peaceful, but it causes her a lot of stress and anxiety. I feel like we’re not getting anywhere and it’s awful that students have to couch surf or pay high hotel fees just to get their education.

Aishwarya and Usha Balasubramanian

“We hope the market will become more stable, but there are literally hundreds of students vying for every one-bed apartment. We feel like we’re stuck.

“I spend my days contacting rental agents and chasing everything I see, but I can’t get anywhere. Thousands of students must be in a similar position and something must be done to cap the rental market and make it more affordable.

Aishwarya and Usha Balasubramanian

We previously reported that students at the University of Glasgow have been told they will not be granted guaranteed accommodation this year.

Students who have not received official confirmation of a place in the residences may be forced to withdraw their place if they cannot find accommodation near campus.

A University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, due to a significant contraction in the private rental market, demand for rooms continues to be significantly above expectations and we are no longer able to provide guaranteed university accommodation.

“Although we have increased the number of rooms under university management by 25% for the new academic year, we must prioritize accommodation for students who cannot travel from home.

“We understand the concern of students to find accommodation for the new semester.

“While we are unable to offer accommodation to students living within reasonable distance, we will continue to regularly check the availability of accommodation from private providers and will share updates when we have them.

“For information and advice on finding private rental accommodation, we encourage students to contact the Student Representative Council Advice Centre.”

Simon Thompson, chief executive of private company Accommodation for Students, said: “We have seen very strong demand for student accommodation in Glasgow, and Glasgow is now the fourth largest city in terms of the number of students applying for accommodation on our site. Web, behind London, Manchester and Nottingham.

“This is significant growth over the past two years, where previously Glasgow would not have made the top 10.

“This reflects a strong demand for study in Glasgow, which translates into a strong demand for accommodation.”