The university-dominated city’s students claim they are struggling to pay their rent after being told ‘go home’ after campuses were closed during the pandemic.
Durham has become the latest battleground between private landlords and students where the owners of student halls have been slammed for demanding the final term’s rent.
Despite Durham University announcing that students who had been living in university-owned accommodation wouldn’t be expected to pay their final term’s rent for rooms they’d left during the crisis, the students’ union says some privately-owned purpose-built student accommodation landlords are still charging for their empty rooms.
Union president Kate McIntosh and the city’s MP Mary Foy have written to providers asking for an option to end agreements early and, “to do the right thing, and adopt a policy which protects the well-being and security of their tenants during this difficult time”.
Some providers have released students from their contracts, while others have yet to reply and are still requesting rent payments from students, says McIntosh.
“We’ve had lots of enquiries from students who’ve been left struggling to pay for empty rooms and are running out of options.
“Many feel let down and abandoned by big private accommodation providers, which should have the resources and capacity to be compassionate towards their tenants, and allow them to end their contracts and rent payments early if they need to.”
Other student accommodation providers around the country have also been criticised for not offering a rent rebate, such as at Palamon Court – a Rhodaus Town development owned by Ridge Holdings Ltd – and Canterbury Student Manor in Parham Road, owned by Graduate Two Ltd – both in Canterbury, as reported by LandlordZONE last month.
An online petition at change.org calling for students to be let off paying rent this term has been signed by more than 76,000 people.