Students launch crowdfunding campaign to sue top university over 'rats, mould and broken ventilation' making them ill

A top university is facing the prospect of legal action from its own students over allegations they were left ill by their accommodation.

A group of postgraduates have begun a crowd-funding page online to stump up cash to sue the London School of Economics (LSE) for what they claim is a breach of tenancy contract.

They allege Sidney Webb House, a block of halls near Borough, south London, became overrun by rats, contaminated with mould and suffered from a broken ventilation system for months.

On a page organised to raise £5,000 for legal fees, the students, under the name Sidney Webb House Group Action, write: “Many students fell ill. Some were diagnosed with upper respiratory tract infections and one resident underwent an open surgical procedure due to skin infection.”

The Russell Group University has a licence contract with the students, but the building is owned by and managed by property company Unite Students, the page says.

Unite Students said it “does not accept” the accommodation had been the direct cause of any illness.

The postgraduates lived in the halls between September 2016 and June 2017 and claimed repair of basic utilities, including heating and hot water, were often delayed.

The page urges people to “help postgraduate students seek justice and redress grievances”.

It adds the target sum will be the minimum required to launch legal proceedings against the university, from which they hope to win compensation.

A spokesman for LSE told the Sunday Telegraph: “It is to be refurbished over the summer. We are, however, aware of a number of complaints about accommodation there this academic year.

“We are investigating each issue.”

A spokesman from Unite Students also told the paper: “We are aware that there were a few issues during the academic year at Sidney Webb House. 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.

“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 reach their target of £5,000 on fundraising website CrowdJustice by 5 August.

Press Association

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