Landlords with student tenants in Northampton are being urged to acknowledge the financial hardship some students are facing and give them a rent break during the coronavirus lockdown.
The University of Northampton's Students' Union has written an open letter to landlords and letting agents in the town requesting that tenants attending the university be given a break from paying rent in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With bars, restaurants and clubs all closed, the union points out that many of the town's students have lost much of their income earned through part-time work, and are struggling to meet their rent payments as a consequence.
The letter to the Northampton Student Landlord Network reads: “Covid-19 has affected everyone in some way [and] it is more important than ever to support one another through this difficult period.
"Many of our students are struggling financially due to not being able to work. In particular, many students who receive the minimum amount of student finance rely on part-time work to be able to pay for their accommodation and to stay a-float.”
The union is also asking landlords to refund any underspent bills and to allow students moving into properties in the next academic year to pay "summer rent rate" until the university resumes face-to-face teaching.
The letter adds: “Students should not have to pay for something they are not using.
“These proposed changes aren’t unique to Northampton, Universities across the country are addressing this issue and contacting landlords to make changes which are in the students’ best interests.
“We ask that you the landlords and letting agents, please consider the support the government is offering including the mortgage holiday scheme.”
The Northampton Student Landlord's Network has acknowledged receipt of the letter and issued a response.
A statements issued by the Northampton Student Landlord's Network stated: “Whilst landlords will do all they can to help in the management of final rent payments, student tenants must understand that their contracts are legally enforceable and unaffected by the current circumstances.
“Given our understanding that the Minister for Universities has confirmed that scheduled tuition and maintenance payments will continue to be paid by the Student Loans Company, landlords would expect student tenants to continue to pay their rents in the normal way, in full and on time
“For individual tenants who genuinely face financial difficulty as a result of Covid19, it is advised that they contact their landlord ASAP to discuss their specific circumstances.”