Student groups are urging landlords not to charge full rent on university accommodation left vacant by the coronavirus shutdown.
Some universities have switched to teaching online and have allowed students in university-owned accommodation to end contracts as many will be studying from home.
According to student housing charity, Unipol, about 60 universities in England have agreed to waive rent in university-owned accommodation next term.
But in some privately run accommodation, students are being told they must continue paying rent, especially inlight of the fact that they are still receiving their loans, and this has sparked outrage among some student representatives.
Given the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, Eva Crossan Jory, NUS vice-president, believes that private landlords have a “moral duty” to offer students the "option of a no-penalty early release from their [tenancy] contracts.”
In Portsmouth, for instance, the local university, students' union and local MP Stephen Morgan wrote to private student accommodation firms calling on them to "do the right thing" and permit students to end their rental contracts early.
But Prime Student Living, one of many private housing firms operating in the city, rejected their request and replied: "Tenancy agreements are to remain in force and students are obligated to continue to pay remaining rent."
Across the country it is a mixed picture, with some students able to cancel rent on unoccupied rooms, while others have to keep paying.
But Martin Blakey, of Unipol, said it was fair for both landlords and tenants to reach a compromise and "share the pain".
"No one party [including small landlords as well as the big student property firms] should bear all the loss," he told the press.