UTS Housing has come under fire for enforcing stringent rules and intrusive security for student accommodation.
No consumption of alcohol is allowed at UTS Housing after 10pm. Only one guest is allowed to stay overnight at a time for a maximum of four days a semester, while security has to be informed and the resident may be charged extra rent for the guest. Housing at Sydney University Village enforces similar rules.
Alice Hunt lived in UTS Housing for seven months, and said housing security’s attitude towards students depended on which building they lived in.
“In some of the buildings, security are there all the time and they get to know the people and are really nice to them. But I found that because they weren’t in my building all the time, they just went on patrols and were constantly interrogative, suspicious and rude,” she said.
Ms Hunt said that during the holidays, guards checked IDs when they entered the building and left.
“They also knocked on our door and demanded to inspect our house and check everyone’s IDs when we were in own rooms already,” she said.
Ms Hunt complained UTS Housing enforced strict rules, considering the mature age of tenants.
“Some of the rules are pretty ridiculous. I think students deserve a bit more freedom than that. Grown-ups can look after themselves and each other. There’s a difference between protecting housing’s property and just being controlling assholes,” she said.
Ms Hunt said she was paying considerable money to be “bullied” by security.
“I was paying $215 a week to live in an apartment with five other people – that’s pretty expensive and it goes up every semester,” she said.
Another UTS Housing tenant, Grant Collins, said that his personal space was violated when security guards entered his room late at night on New Year’s Day.
“One of the guards pushed open my door while I was in there, thankfully not naked, and he demanded I went downstairs. I went downstairs and there was security standing at the door. This was at 11 o’clock,” he said.
“It made me feel extremely uncomfortable – I’m really protective of my space. I don’t normally lock my door because normal people don’t just enter your room. I have really strict rules about who can enter and when, and just having them walk in has upset me to the point where I’m now locking my door even when I’m in my room.”
There are minimal alternative options for tenants, with the housing market difficult for students without a rental history.
Currently there are at least three large student housing developments planned or under construction in the Chippendale area, but they are likely to be more expensive than UTS Housing.
404 rooms are currently being built by Urbanest at 157 Cleveland St. Urbanest has not yet indicated what rents will be at the site, but it currently charges between $384 and $426 a week on a 12-month contract.
42 units and six storeys are planned for the Aboriginal Housing Company’s (AHC) Eveleigh St development.
Greg Colbran, the AHC’s Project Manager, indicated in 2011 that they were considering between $275 and $350 a week per student.
Frasers Property Group are also proposing ‘688 specialised student apartments’ on the Carlton & United Brewery site in Broadway.
A spokesperson for Frasers Property Group said their apartments will be affordable.
“Our proposed student residences will be delivered under the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which requires that the properties be offered to the market at 20 per cent less than market rent,” said the spokesperson.
The operator receives a federal subsidy under the scheme.
“It’s another option in a diverse local housing market and relatively more affordable than competing in the conventional housing market in this area,” said the spokesperson for Frasers.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that students at the brewery site would be charged $340 a week.
Complicating affordability is the fact the maximum payment a student on Youth Allowance can receive is $254.05 per week, including rent assistance.
UTS Housing were contacted for comment but did not reply before deadline.