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Student landlords urged not to charge full rent next term

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.

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  • Peter Meczes

    As much as we would like to reduce our rents to help students, we still have to cover all the overheads. As a small landlord with just 9 student rooms in total, a 25% rent reduction is almost a 75% reduction in profit meaning that we would struggle to meet our personal living expenses. The lenders are not reducing their interest charges on our loans, just deferring them so any help for students should start there.

    Timothy Watts

    I am spare room renter to 2 engineers who have now gone as their companies closed for the duration. They decided that I didn't need any rent and expect to take up the rooms again when it's all over. I am a shielded person anyway having cancer treatment (suspended for a bit now) but I was upset that they didn't even offer me anything even though their income is not affected..as far as i know. The stay with me during the week and both go home at the weekends. Should I just try to manage ... all their stuff is still here in their rooms. Probably not the right place to post this sorry


    @Tim, surely if their processions are still in their room they should be paying you rent

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    So accountants, solicitors, councils, vat, etc etc will also be reducing their charges by 25% then, don't take us for mugs.

     G romit

    Not forgetting Local Council council tax & licensing schemes or a rebate if, as is usual, it's been paid in advance.

    Simon D

    Have you asked the accountants etc. to reduce their fees? If you haven't it might surprise you what they come back with.. if you don't ask you don't get.

  • David Lester

    Why is it Landlords are expected to take a hit, we are a business not a charity, if the Government wanted to help PRS scrap section 24!

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    The students still get their loans - I believe a very small % ever pay it all back. So why should landlords have to starve if the students don't pay their rent? Sorry to be thick but I just don't get it!

    • S S
    • 14 April 2020 11:29 AM

    Loans do not cover rent - My son loan's is £1,386 - his rent per month £540. The loan is paid in April and he does not receive any further payments until September. His part-time job has gone. Rent due from April to September £3,240. His rent is due every month as he has to sign a 12 month contract even though he only lives in the house from September to May. He also has to pay for food, utilities etc.
    Student loans are paid back over 25 years - if students are high earners they will pay them back. The base rate is currently 0.01% - Interest on student loans is charged at 6%. Students are cash cows for many people and students have little or no choice. Have just some consideration - I'm not saying everything for free but stop thinking of student as free-loaders - My daughter has just finished her medical degree - Her student debt is over £80,000 and she is being charged 6% interest.
    But without students like her - we would have no doctors! no nurses! - She's not asking LL to starve but in unpredecented times like this perhaps we all need to think outside the box.

    Andrew Murray

    I am a student landlord and offered my students a 25% reduction on the four months left to pay .ie pay three of the four months left. The system needs looking at to make it fairer. The interest rate of 6% is wrong and should be half that. With teachers going on strike and universities closing early students have had a raw deal this year and I believe they should not have to pay the whole of the fees as the University has not taught them all year. The silly 500k plus head salaries should also be looked at.


    SS. If your son's loan doesn't cover his outgoings, the assumption is the parents can afford to act as guarantors, not rely on the landlords to take the hit. I put 3 kids through University but planned ahead by buying flats for which their flatmates covered the mortgage. Solvent parents moaning about rents should plan ahead whilst kids are still at school instead of moaning about the people who showed more foresight than them, probably by not having fancy cars, foreign holidays etc. I gave all of that up for about 20 years but I'm certainty not giving them up now just because some parents don't want to observe their parental duties now when they are most needed by their offspring.

  • Matthew Payne

    I am yet to see a call for in any other sector for payments or monies due to be reduced or waived at the cost of private individuals. I dont see why students are not remaining in their households doing their remote learning just as all school children up and down the UK are doing. Why the need to flee back to their former parental home and then ask landlords to pay for it?

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    Our Council has closed the local schools, libraries, recycling centres etc. and slashed bin collection frequencies. Will they give me back the money they're charging me for services they're not providing? I'm still providing student properties. Why should I not be paid for something I am providing when Councils still get paid for many things that they are not providing?Are Universities cutting their fees for the Summer terms?


    lockdown/furlough does not seem to affect public sector at all--all are on full pay and hundreds of thousands are off with alleged sickness/distancing. mps have been given £10000 to stay at home to do nothing. council tax is up and collected as usual--yet services are down

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    • S S
    • 14 April 2020 11:00 AM

    I'm a LL and a parent of 3 uni students. My son has recevied his grant - He recevied £1,386. His rent for April, May and June is £1,620. His part-time job has gone. He stay has to pay for living expenses, ulitilies, BB, etc. His student loan does NOT cover his rent so saying because they received a loan all students have the funds to pay the rent. We have asked his LL (in a house of 5 students) if they can leave one month early - So the LL gets a annual rent of £29,700 rather than £32,400. Are they being unreasonable? Given that they have also been requested to check out of the property 6 days BEFORE the end of the contract but without the offer of pro-rota rent in that month (and the LL needs to get work done before the new students move in on July 1st) do I have sympathy for the LL. No! If you want to rake in the rent from students - and houses rented to students achieve fair higher yields and rent income than if the same houses were rented out to families - then in extreme circumstances being "fair and decent" to tha hand that feeds you is probably the better route to take. Students get a rough deal in many places - I have experience of Brighton, Oxford and Cardiff - so far Cardiff wins! Brighton and Oxford are poor providers of decent affordable student houses.


    If the students have been asked to move out 6 days before the end of their tenancy, then they should definitely get a rent reduction for these days. Every landlord should factor in a 'void' period for maintenance and cleaning etc between tenancies. We normally need the full 2 months of July and August for cleaning/maintenance for our students on a 10 month contract. But that DOES mean that we could not manage if the students did not pay their rent for the full contract.


    Hi S S, As a specialist student landlord in this space, I must provide some feedback on your comments:
    1) The trend in the last decade has made the student accommodation space very expensive with MOST student properties having attached mortgages.
    2) Student lettings is a very expensive business with significantly more expenses per property vs a regular rental - I often see 10x the expenses vs a single family let. Not including the regular refurbs of bathrooms/kitchens to keep a property in running order.
    3) The profit margins are there, but not by a significant amount - that offer to drop one months rent is probably cutting the landlords net income in half for the year...
    4) Council tax - the councils normally charge double rate for empty properties! So leaving the tenancy early is also racking up additional charges for the landlord! (Note that PBSAs and Uni's do not pay this either).

    As a landlord, I still have to pay for fire safeties, gas safeties and all critical property works throughout this period... the business does not stop just because of the virus.

    Final comment - government support and lenders - It should be clearly noted that there is NO support from the government for our business type - Also, a mortgage holiday is just deferring the mortgage charges till later (with additional interest added). It's not free. Add in the punitive tax situation with Section 24 taxes and it's quite clear that being a landlord is an expensive unfair business...

    As a student landlord, I am fully listening to my tenants in trouble - they are getting the rent deferments where needed, but the rent will still need to be paid eventually. As all our lets are fully inclusive of bills, they are also receiving a reduction to represent the energy bills for the affected period.

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    • S S
    • 14 April 2020 11:43 AM

    Marilyn Randall - A LL who manages a student property allowing for void perids between students understands the market and therefore I would hope that your students will honour the agreement. You are a rare species- Sadly, in my experience, the majority of LL of student do not think like you.

    Simon X - I'm glad that your students receive a reduction in energy bills - that at least shows some understanding for the student - And the reality is the student perhaps requires slightly more regular maitenance than a family house but that is because the tenants are replaced every year....and to maintain the standard of the house, work may be required. But in reality the investment is in the house to ensure that the returns has continue at a high level and student houses are rented out at a higher rent than the same property to a family - so it is all swings and roundabouts.


    "And the reality is the student perhaps requires slightly more regular maintenance than a family house but that is because the tenants are replaced every year" - Not slightly. A lot more. It's significantly more expensive as student tenants are now looking for high quality properties to rent and fitting x tenants into a property with bikes + gear creates significantly more wear than normal.

    I always think of this in terms of bathrooms and kitchens - I seem to refurbishing these at three times the rate of a regular rental. When was your house kitchen/bathroom replaced? every 15 years? It's every 5-7 years for a student let if done properly...

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    • 14 April 2020 11:46 AM

    If students are facilitated casual abandonment of their tenancies just because of any issues then it makes a mockery of the student business model
    Why bother being a student LL if for one woe or another the student faces difficulty?
    Surely the business response from LL in the face of such attitudes is to diverge away from the student business model.
    As most of these student properties are in town centres they would be very popular as HMO.
    Many could be let as non- mandatory Licensed HMO if only 4 bedrooms were used.
    There will be a demand by workers for rooms as they won't be able to afford self contained properties.
    Lots of them could be occupied by DSS to over 35's as LHA should cover the room cost.
    Students could well find that their current plentiful supply of properties disappears as student LL diverge into other business models.
    It also appears that many Uni courses may be done online which calls into question the whole point of physically going to University.

    Many students could well in future go to University without ever leaving their family homes
    So in light of these possibilities I can see many LL stop letting to students and do other things with their properties.
    Students would do well to consider these matters.
    But of course few will as most of them live in the now.
    The situation as it evolves could well result in far fewer LL prepared to take on students.
    That will cost students far more rent in the future.


    I done student lets at one of my properties for a couple of yrs in the 90s, too much grief, stopped that, I now go for working people over 25 and no single mums, oh and no all day curry eaters either, too much mess and smell.

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    I hope students have real problems finding accommodation when they eventually come back cap in hand - for two reasons. 1. Revenge. 2. Market forces will push up rents. They will find it will end up being a Zero Sum Game with landlords recouping current losses through higher rents later this year.

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    A lot of universities are now contingency planning for online teaching next academic year. Many students will stay at home and not need any accommodation in this scenario. As a result, I hope that you don’t have to struggle to cover your own costs as rents collapse in a buyers market. With no customers, a short-sighted, short-term approach may end up costing some landlords in the longer-term.

  • Timothy Watts

    Andrew, well I suppose so. One hasnt got much there to be honest but he never had he wasa only there 4 nights. the others has more stuff. Good news one has just paid me this morning it's only 250 but the lodgers contribute half my income.. just got to get better and go back to work...


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