Durham SU Student-Landlord Pledge

Page last updated: 21.05.20

The ongoing situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak has had many, wide-reaching implications for all members of the Durham community. Housing and accommodation is one area of particular concern for many, and we feel that the key to mitigating the effects of the current crisis will be to embrace the principles of fairness and compassion. As such, we believe that our community must come together to support one and another at this challenging time.

To demonstrate these principles, we invite local agents to sign this pledge on behalf of their landlords. We also invite individual private landlords to sign on their own behalf, and student representatives to sign on behalf of student renters. For students living in alternative accommodation within Durham city, Durham SU has written a separate letter to local PBSA providers.

Durham SU wants to lead a proactive, local response in light of the Government urging ‘landlords to show compassion’ in their approach to the circumstances of individual renters. This has led to a collaborative project that local agents, landlords and students within the Durham community can be equally passionate about, where all key stakeholder groups have had the opportunity to provide input.

The below set of 'expectations' form a suggested way for student renters and landlords/agents to behave towards one another in a fair and compassionate manner so that we can get through this crisis together.

These expectations are in addition to the obligations set out in Government legislation and individual tenancy agreements. For example, tenancy agreements remain legally binding and tenants are therefore required to pay rent as outlined in their contracts, unless otherwise agreed. Equally, recent legislation means that most tenants cannot be evicted before the end of June at the earliest. If any student tenants need further advice on their rights and obligations, they are encouraged to contact the Durham SU Advice Service.

Expectations of agents/landlords:

  • Treat all requests for an early end of a tenancy, rent reduction or alternative repayment plan on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration individual circumstances and exercising trust, compassion and flexibility
  • Ensure that requests from students about individual circumstances are communicated to landlords and that, upon request, proof of this is provided to tenants
  • Be clear about options for tenants and give reasonable notice in terms of removing or storing belongings at the end of the tenancy (e.g. some agents have purchased storage space for this purpose)
  • Do not profit financially from the current situation - tenants should have access to these kinds of new services at no extra cost to them (in line with the Tenant Fees Act 2019)
  • Ensure tenants are allowed to safely self-isolate and uphold appropriate social distancing measures should essential maintenance need to be carried out
  • Ensure that tenants' deposits are not affected by issues related to COVID-19, unless otherwise agreed as part of negotiation between tenant and landlord
  • Reinforce standards of cleaning at the end of tenancy - particularly in common spaces - to ensure future tenants are not at risk
  • Commit to open and proactive communication to alleviate concerns on both sides

We hope you will agree that, as reputable agents and landlords in the Durham student community, a combination of flexibility around contract law and compassion are key during this unprecedented time.

Expectations of students:

  • Inform landlord/agent of any difficulties in making rental payments as soon as possible
  • Be honest and open in communication with agents, landlords and other tenants at all times, whether still residing in Durham or not
  • Be reasonable and transparent in requests for consideration of individual circumstances
  • Continue to treat properties with respect and follow government guidance in relation to cleaning and social distancing
  • Be respectful and understanding towards landlords and agents, who may not always be in a position to end contracts early or reduce rental payments

We hope you will agree that, as private tenants living and studying in the Durham community, the need for reasonable, open and respectful communication is key at this unprecedented time.

If you are a landlord or agent who wants to sign the pledge, please contact nicola.a.frampton@durham.ac.uk.

We extend our thanks to all those who have provided input throughout this project.

Signed:

Kate McIntosh - SU President, David Evans - PG Academic Officer, Sam Johnson-Audini - UG Academic Officer, Amelia McLoughlan - Welfare and Liberation Officer, Jess Dunning - Opportunities Officer 

 

   

Caragh Evans - Collingwood JCR President and Chair of JCR PresComm, Alex Longman - St Aidan's JCR President, Elena Martin - St Cuthbert's Society JCR President, Leo Harris - Grey College JCR President, Charlotte Thompson - Josephine Butler College JCR President, Alistair Stark - Trevelyan College JCR President, Nuriya Shoro - St Mary's College JCR President, Joseph Pape - St John's Common Room President, Diana Martinez Trejo - Ustinov College GCR President, James Burton - St Chad's JCR President

 

       

Christabel Agyepong - President of Durham Tenants' Union, Tom Wright -  St Chad's Welfare Officer, Rowan Morris - St Cuthbert's Society LGBT+ Rep and Tenants' Union Member, Naomi Clarke - St Mary's Senior Welfare Officer and Tenants' Union Member, Daniel Kostick - John Snow Male Welfare Officer 2020/21, Ewan Swift - St Cuthbert's Society Senior Welfare Officer, Lucy Cardy - Castle Welfare Officer, Calypso Herrick-Doyle - Hild Bede Female Welfare Officer, Tasmin Lucas - Welfare Officer at Collingwood, Jess Clark - Welfare Officer at Hatfield College,  Alexander Hampton - Chair of Ustinov GCR, Durham Mexican Society 

 

                                                                                                                                                                    

Stuart Edwards - Stuart Edwards Estate Agents, Robbie Bell - Director, Nicholas Humphreys Estate Agents Durham, Jonathan Parker - Pattinson Estate Agents, Douglas McCarroll & Gemma Bern - Directors, Morgan Douglas Ltd Durham, Evenmore Properties Durham