A student accommodation search platform says Coronavirus means landlords and academic authorities have to consider possible break clauses and premature tenancy ends for student renters.
Dan Roberts, managing director of the Mystudenthalls platform, explains what the virus means in terms of changes to maintenance and support.
“Outside of thorough cleaning, one way systems and distancing measures, there are also very particular plans around self-isolating which isn’t so straightforward in shared spaces. But these will be incredibly important with the emerging likelihood of successive ‘circuit breaks’ or mini lockdowns on the horizon.
“As we have seen recently in Scotland and in Manchester self-isolating has had a major impact on student accommodation, as it is often made up of corridors of single rooms and so decisions on who will need to self-isolate if often being made on a case-by-case basis. This will inevitably have a knock-on effect on that all-important socialising at the start of Freshers [Week].
“We know that already, students are confused and overwhelmed by these huge changes, and some may now wish to be released from their contracts and return home to study. It's the responsibility of universities and accommodation providers, together, to provide the most clarity possible.
“Students are already uprooting and starting a new life when they begin university, and accommodation providers also need to work hard to recognise and support the impact these further lockdown rules will have on mental health. With students spending more time in their halls, there are undoubtedly more considerations to be had around wellbeing than ever before- with more responsibility taken by accommodation sites themselves, alongside universities.”
However, Roberts insists the long-term attractiveness of the sector remains.
“Despite the uncertainty of how the pandemic will affect uni life, this year’s intake of UK students has been bigger than ever – a 2.9 per cent rise amongst UK applicants compared with 2019” he states.
“We’ve also seen continued interest in studying in the UK from international students, with a rise in search traffic from some overseas territories including Portugal and UAE (both 29 per cent), India (30 per cent) and Hong Kong (56 per cent).
“Numbers of students are expected to be unaffected. We understand the frustration at the restrictions students are facing at the beginning of their academic year and it’s clear that they are looking for a sense of normality, despite the inevitable disruption caused by distancing and isolating.”