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[PRESS RELEASE] Rip-Off of the Year: ANU Rents Go Through the Roof

Canberra Student Housing Co-operative (the Co-op) has received unconfirmed reports that last Friday afternoon the Australian National University approved significant increases in on-campus accommodation tariffs for 2015.

Sources have alleged that catered accommodation options will increase by 5% and uncatered options by 7%. This will see weekly tariffs reach $297.78 for the most common room type at Lena Karmel Lodge, and $356.48 at ANU’s historic Bruce Hall.

In addition to the weekly tariff, students must pay additional upfront charges for administration and building maintenance, equating to an additional $10 per week for first year residents.

These increases were first announced in an email last week from Acting Registrar Stephen Milnes. Other changes included a move to the central allocation of new residents, depriving individual halls of the ability to select residents based on cultural fit and other longstanding factors. Reportedly, this change has also been approved.

A 2012 survey by ANU’s Interhall Council found that students’ average income was just $400 per week (approx $410 adjusted for inflation). While the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling defines “housing stress” as spending in excess of 30% of income on housing, ANU is demanding that students commit over 74% of the typical Unilodge resident’s weekly income to accommodation (which comprises parental support, part time work and, for some, Centrelink benefits). Meanwhile, students in catered accommodation will have just $53.48 per week left over to cover living expenses such as textbooks, transport and medical bills.

Because of 2004 amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, on-campus accommodation is excluded from all standard protections offered to tenants. Using the formula provided in the Act, any increase greater than 0.5% would be “excessive” and subject to legal challenge in the ACT Civil and Administrative Affairs Tribunal. An increase of 5% represents a figure that is 10 times an “excessive” increase under the Act, and is considerably out of step with the broader ACT housing market.

Students are extremely concerned about the prospect of on-campus housing becoming the exclusive domain of students from privileged backgrounds with parents with the capacity to subsidise rents. Housing, along with the Federal Government’s proposals for fee deregulation represent alarming cost of living pressures for all tertiary students at the ANU.

The Co-op offers students an affordable alternative to on-campus accommodation, with an all-inclusive tariff of a more reasonable $165 per week, and fosters an environment centred around community and social responsibility. Students at Sydney University’s STUCCO Housing Co-operative pay as little as $70 per week.

Applications for the first round of our November intake close on 30 September 2014 and can be submitted via our website.

Contact

Co-op Directors: contact@csh.coop

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