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 www.rent-strike.org/universities 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 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.