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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Landlords should consider Covid break clauses - PropTech chief

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.”

  • Kristjan Byfield

    I'm sure landlords will happily do this- if their mortgage lenders offer the same protection, freeholders & block management waive charges, council voids council tax, etc etc

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    Totally agree. A 2.9% increase in students means 2.9% more after a diminishing amount of student flats. Guess how sympathetic that will make me?

     
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    Of course a platform representing students will want this (which is basically the article). And of course landlords will not. But what is the view of independent people who are neither students nor landlords? One can see the problems the pandemic creates for both sides. Who'd be a politician?

    Matthew Payne

    As with anything bought in bulk or in limited amounts, you pay extra for flexibility and get discounts for long term commitments. If students (or anyone else) want the equivalent of a short flexible let they can contractually end at short notice, or "pay as you study", will they be prepared to pay the much higher rent for such arrangements. I very much doubt it.

     
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    Is the Platform refunding advertising fees charged to Landlords for advertising the properties?

  • Paul Barrett

    Dopey students want just in time accommodation contracts they can walk away from.

    Hotels etc provide this sort of accommodation.
    It is not possible for student LL to create a viable business model where there is no contractual commitment.

    LL aren't operating short-term accommodation.
    Of course if students wish to pay short-term rates I'm sure many Student LL would be more than willing to let to students at short-term rates!

    But what students can't have is their cake and eat it.
    Students are just displaying feckless attitudes and extreme naivety but that should be no surprise.

    Students need to accept that unless they commit no LL will wish to let to them.

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    Yes they can have a Covid Break Clause of course no problem. It just wont be the same rent figure as without one.
    Maybe buy Covid Insurance from your broker and just sign the tenancy eh. There you go sorted. I'm sure some Proptech co looking to scavenge some more money from our business will provide this solution

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