‘Mould and mice’: Students launch crowdfunding campaign to take legal action against LSE halls of residence

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

Pissed-off postgrads instruct top London law firm

Image via CrowdJustice

Students are gearing up to take legal action against the London School of Economics (LSE) over allegations poor living conditions created major “health crises” at one of its student halls.

Postgrads at the top university claim “severe rodent infestations”, “widespread black mould”, and “non-functional ventilation systems” at Sidney Webb House (a student accommodation block near Borough Market) created “health crises, distraction and distress.”

Images of damp and mould posted on Sidney Webb House Facebook page

Over 215 students — collectively known as the ‘Sidney Webb House Group Action’ — are now preparing to bring legal action against LSE and the halls management company, Unite Students, over claims the poor conditions amounted to “breaches of tenancy contract”.

According to a recently launched CrowdJustice page, the pissed-off postgrads have instructed London law firm Edwin Coe and are initially seeking £5,000 to cover basic legal fees. Continuing, the appeal — which has already received over £2,300 in donations — says:

We came here to study law, human rights, governance and economics, and we sincerely wish that this could have remained our primary concern. Due to the health challenges provoked by substandard conditions at Sidney Webb House, not all students will graduate on time and will be forced to incur additional expenses to take missed exams next year.

David Greene, a senior partner and head of litigation at Edwin Coe, has agreed to represent the students. Speaking to Legal Cheek earlier today, he was sympathetic towards their situation and was hopeful of a positive outcome. He said:

I would like to see LSE take sensible and reasonable steps to help resolve this matter. Discussions regarding a possible settlement have not yet concluded. The university has shown a degree of arrogance in the way it has handled this matter. It thought the problem would go away, but it won’t.

Elsewhere on the CrowdJustice page, it’s claimed that back in March a “noisy construction project invaded the residence” during a busy exam period. This allegedly created further “psychological distress and physical illness”, so students began filming their experiences and posting the clips on YouTube. Several, including one embedded below, appear alongside the fundraising appeal.

A spokesperson for LSE told Legal Cheek that Sidney Webb House “is to be newly refurbished over the summer.” The Russell Group uni noted it’s aware of a number of complaints made by its students about accommodation and that these are being investigation as per its complaint procedure. Continuing, the spokesperson said:

We take student welfare issues in our halls seriously. Onsite pastoral care is provided to students by an LSE warden, who is an academic member of staff, and a team of LSE sub wardens. The building is also staffed 24 hours a day by Unite staff and night security who are able to respond to issues as they arise.

Denying that the accommodation had been the direct cause of any illness, a spokesperson for Unite Students told The Guardian:

We are always sorry to hear that any student is experiencing poor health. Unite Students does not accept any suggestion that the accommodation is the cause of any medical ill health poor health. Any class action being prepared by a student against LSE is a matter between those two parties and not for us to comment on.

The students aim to hit their £5,000 target by 5 August.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub.