Students across the country are holding the biggest rent strike seen in the last 40 years.
This is because they are being made to pay rent for accommodation they are not able to return to.
Unfortunately, this is only one of the many issues faced by students due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Some UK universities and accommodation owners are providing full rent rebates temporarily, whilst others are giving partial rebates. However, some are giving no refunds at all.
The campaign Rent Strike are holding a national online rally on the 25th January, to call on universities and the UK Government to listen to students across the country.
We reached out to Rent Strike for a comment, however we have not received a response.
Responses to rent strikes
Universities UK released a statement saying:
“Universities recognise the financial pressures the pandemic has placed on students and are providing increased financial and other support as a result.
“Decisions on accommodation costs will be a local decision for individual universities, taking into account the circumstances at their institutions and of their students.
“It is also important to note that the vast majority of students are not renting university-owned accommodation so many decisions on refunds will be made by private landlords and other providers.”
Only around 20% of students are renting from university halls, while 25% are in private purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). Another 25% are commuter students, and the rest in private HMOs (house in multiple occupancy).
“It is simply unacceptable that students are being told to not live in housing they have paid for, on public health grounds, yet are receiving no government support.
“We are rightly seeing the largest mobilisation of student housing activists for decades. This movement will only continue to grow unless the government, universities and landlords act now.
“All student renters must now be offered rent refunds and the option of leaving their tenancy early, if universities and landlords need financial support to make this happen then government must step-in. Scotland legislated to do this, Westminster must now follow,” she added.
For Samuel Hitchen – a student at Manchester Metropolitan University, the university have still caused confusion, despite their best efforts.
In the audio clip below, Samuel explains the ongoing situation at his university halls.
Samuel admitted to not fully understanding how the rent rebate works, or who is entitled to one. He is also unsure whether the rebate will end on the 15th February, or whether they will review the system based on new Government guidance.
“It’s kind of unclear, because some people think we’ll go back until May and others think it will be late February.”
While Samuel sees his situation as a positive one, he does feel as though he has missed out on a lot of experiences, and has struggled to make friends having never met any of his fellow course-mates in person.
Samuel’s maintenance loan would usually not cover his rent, so having this rebate has given him the “peace of mind” that many other students across the country are hoping to feel.