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Housing Minister calls on student accommodation providers and tenants to “act flexibly” and adopt a “common-sense” approach to solving rent payment dispute during the Covid-19 crisis and suggests this issue is “a matter between the parties concerned”.

Many UK universities have waived accommodation fees or released students from contracts for the third term without further charge as face-to-face teaching suspended and students returned family homes due to Covid-19.

It may encourage landlords not to rent to students in a long term…students may also have to pay more in subsequent year.
Darrel Kwong, DWK CONSULTANCY

However, most private student accommodation providers are yet to offer this. It has led to a nationwide rent strike that has involved thousands of student tenants, claiming it is “completely unfair” to continue to pay with many losing their sources of income.

Darrel Kwong, owner of DWK Consultancy, who has been providing legal advice for both landlords and letting agencies, suggests there seems to be misunderstandings from students that because they cannot live in a property, any rent that is contractedly due cannot be pursued or there is no obligation to pay that rent.

“It may encourage landlords not to rent to students in a long term,” says Kwong, “students may also have to pay more in subsequent year.”

Interview clip from Darrel Kwong

Student landlords are among those “hit hardest” by the Covid-19 pandemic, as universities and colleges closing campuses indefinitely, says Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

Letting adverts on Foxhall Road, Nottingham

Responding to calls from National Union of Students (NUS) for no-penalty early release from tenancy contracts for current and next academic year, Beadle says decisions are left up the individual landlords according to their own financial position.

He adds, “The majority of landlords are ineligible for any of the other business or personal support measures announced by the government, making it extremely difficult to provide direct support to tenants.”

In response to this dispute, the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, Conservative MP for Tamworth says students will continue to receive maintenance grants for remainder of the current academic year (2019/20) and hardship funds from universities can still be accessed where necessary.

He continues saying students who are workers under PAYE will be paid up to 80 per cent of their wages.

Letting adverts on Leslie Road, Nottingham

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive at Universities UK argues although students are still in receipt of maintenance loans, they may be experiencing financial difficulties with their ability to earn additional income as part-time work curtailed.

He also suggests that family incomes may also be challenged by the lockdown.

The Minister of State says, “The department is actively engaging with stakeholders across the student accommodation sector, including private student accommodation providers to understand the challenges posted by the current crisis and to establish the most effective means of supporting the whole of the sector.”