Please Note: This Article is 2 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

A dozen universities have told halls residents they will not have to pay rent for the rest of this term as Coronavirus closes down campuses, and activists are now turning their attention to private landlords.

Students are winning significant rent concessions from universities including reductions and rent holidays, helped by a flurry of rent strikes targeted at both public and private landlords.

The campaign is broad and seeks to persuade student landlords to cancel tenants’ rents until they return to study and the crisis is over.

The campaign is being supported by a ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ handbook (pictured) produced by which is a national collective of student housing campaigners and activists.

Some universities (see below) have agreed to cancel the third term’s rent assuming the pandemic continues, and the activists are now targeting private landlords.

The campaign says 150 students at a halls of residence run by private landlord in London have already gone on strike, while over 400 students have joined a Facebook page in Plymouth calling for a rent strike across the city’s four universities for those in private accommodation.

Rent reductions

Rent reductions or suspensions, assuming students go home, have already been won at halls of residence in Cambridge, East Anglia, Huddersfield, Keele, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Reading, Warwick and York.

A rent strike is under way at University of London halls of residence, and students in Bristol are in dispute with a major student accommodation lettings agency over rent payments.

The ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ campaign is backed by the National Union of Students and also the Labour Party, whose shadow housing minister John Healey (replaced yesterday by Thangam Debbonaire) last week wrote to the Housing secretary Gavin Williamson asking for both public and private landlords to stop charging tenants rent who have returned home.

Please Note: This Article is 2 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


  1. I assume as all these students are now living at home being supported by the bank of Mum & Dad they won’t be needing their student loans for the summer term.

    I do also wonder where they will live next year when all the private LLs either move out of the market or put up the rent to cover their losses.

    This sort of heavy handed one-sided response to a crisis benefits no-one. Students should talk to their LLs and come to a reasonable compromise. We are all suffering in this pandemic and one group trying to benefit at the expense of another is intolerable.

    We need to look at how our actions affect others – not just ourselves – and be reasonable and responsible in our requests.


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