I know that for many of us, getting by at University is a challenge at the best of times. With high rents and inadequate funding, lots of Durham students are under financial pressure year round.
Covid-19 is disrupting nearly every aspect of our lives, including where we live, and whether we can go to work. I know that many students who live in private accommodation in the City are worried and angry about the fact their landlords expect them to pay rent for rooms and facilities they now can’t live in next term. The financial burden this places on students at this time is unfair and unnecessary.
Writing to private student halls
That’s why, alongside the MP for City of Durham Mary Foy, I’m writing to private student halls in Durham City to request that they allow students to end their tenancy agreements early, and cease paying rent immediately, if they want to. It is more important now than ever, that we work with our representatives locally and nationally to ensure that students’ concerns are on the agenda.
We are asking them to do this because it’s the right thing to do. These private halls, sometimes called Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSAs), won’t have the same running costs for next term as they would in any other, because many rooms are already vacant.
Unite Students have already adopted this policy across all of their accommodation nationally, and the University is waiving fees for students who aren’t occupying rooms in College next term.
These big private companies should have the resources and infrastructure to be flexible in times of crisis, and do the right thing for tenants.
Making the standards we expect clear to landlords
As well as working with Mary Foy MP to lobby private halls, we are asking every landlord and letting agent to sign a pledge that details the standards we expect of them during this crisis. There’s much more variety among landlords and letting agents, so we’re treating them on a case by case basis, and expecting them to do the same for their student tenants. We’ll soon publicise who has signed up, and who hasn’t, so we can collectively put pressure on landlords to treat students decently and not exploit these circumstances.
You can read the letter here.
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