Update on PBSA's from Ewan

Last year

During the first national lockdown, your 2019/20 President, Kate McIntosh, worked with Mary Foy (MP for Durham City) to lobby Purpose Built Student Accommodation providers (PBSAs) to allow students to terminate their contracts early due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Durham SU then recorded the responses we received and updated our website with subsequent policy changes to ensure that students could remain fully informed.

We were pleased that ultimately, most PBSAs offered some flexibility for students, either by offering early contract terminations, rent reductions or refunds.


When initially responding to the pandemic in March 2020, we had no idea we’d still be in this situation almost one year later. Students have once again been encouraged to stay away from Durham, having been told not to travel after the Christmas break. As a result, we have once again written to student accommodation providers alongside Mary Foy, asking them to offer refunds or partial refunds to students not currently living in Durham.

Our belief is that students should not be paying for accommodation they’re not using, and that wherever possible, providers should demonstrate compassionate understanding by offering flexibility with payments and tenancy agreements. We also believe that given the business structure of PBSAs, these organisations are well placed to offer this flexibility.

Below is a table of responses we’ve received from PBSA providers following our most recent letter:

Provider Accommodation Response* Policy Summary More information
UNITE STUDENTS Rushford Court; Houghall Court; Elvet Studios   50% rent discount for the period 18/01 – 08/03, as well as a four week tenancy extension at no extra charge. Link to update
Student Roost Chapel Heights   Rent discount of up to 6 weeks’ worth of rent. Deadline to apply has now passed. Link to update
Hello Student St Margaret's Flats   Individual approach, offering some flexibility (partial refunds). Residents advised to contact to Hello Student by 31st Jan.  Link to update

*Responses have been ranked and colour-coded based on their approach to ending tenancy agreements and storing belongings until restrictions are lifted. The responses ranked as green are which we deem to be most appropriate and reasonable during the current circumstances. We will endeavour to update this table as and when PBSAs update their policies. 

Page last updated: 08/02/2021