LandlordZONE takes the pulse of landlords and letting agents around the UK as the decision to close universities impacts student rental markets.

Students around the UK are quitting their university accommodation, leaving some landlords wondering if they’ll get their rent paid for the rest of the academic year.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) has been contacted by many student landlords whose tenants are leaving en masse following last week’s Government advice, as universities move remaining classes online.

In Nottingham, landlords fear that students leaving in their droves will refuse to pay rent.

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East Midlands Property Owners Group, which represents 600 landlords in the city, says students are contacting landlords saying they’re moving back to their parental homes with some asking, ‘Do I need to pay any more rent?’

Owen Cosslett, lettings manager at Oak Student Letts in the city, believes that after a while spent cooped up at home with parents, many students will soon return, and that rent will eventually get paid.

But he tells LandlordZONE that landlords could face a bigger problem in September. “If foreign students don’t return and halls of residence flood the market with cheap accommodation it would impact on rents – and the market in 2021/22 could be a very different place,” says Cosslett.

Guarantors guaranteed?

It’s good practice for student landlords to have guarantors arranged, who remain legally responsible for the contractual rent if the student defaults, says Meera Chindooroy, NLA’s policy and public affairs manager.

“We advise landlords to approach guarantors about a payment plan in the first instance to help manage the cost over a period that will be challenging for all,” she tells LandlordZONE.

However, in Glasgow, one generous West End landlord has slashed his rents to provide relief for struggling students.

The anonymous Good Samaritan cut some of his student tenants’ rents by 30% because he didn’t want to burden those who had been hit by the double whammy of losing their university base and a bar or restaurant job.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I think there is a very strong case for students to argue that their leases are terminated by way of frustration if their contracts end in july whereas the 6 month lockdown is intended extend beyond that. If they returned home before the lockdown came into force their contracts will definitely be terminated by way of frustration.

  2. 1. An unforeseen event has occurred which is outside the control of the contracting parties.
    2. The unforeseen event has radically changed the party’s principal purpose of entering into the contract, since his only reason for living in the property is to attend university. University is now closed and he is prohibited by the government from returning to the property. Therefore, the property serves no purpose to him.
    3. The contract is automatically terminated at the point of frustration. The contract is not voided from the beginning (nine monthly rent payments already made); only future obligations are discharged (rent from this point onwards).

    The above is a situation that my son faces in Durham that is without doubt consistent with the frustration ruling. I have made contact with the landlord to try to reach a compromise but have been told to get lost and pay up.

    Having tried but been rebuffed I will not be paying another penny and believe the law is now on my side.

  3. Bill Smith this is the exact same situation my son faces in Warwick. I contacted his landlord, student-cribs and they gave me a similar response to yours. I’ve told them if they’re not prepared to negotiate a reasonable settlement I’ll see them in court. Another annoying aspect is the tenancy was for 52 weeks. This included 3 months from summer 2019 when the university wasn’t in session and he was home. I accept I took out the tenancy in the knowledge of this but what it means is we would be paying for 12 months when he only had the benefit of 6 months. Greedy lot.

  4. My son has a room which has vacated at Cityblock Durham who are now taking no e-mails individually regarding next terms rent payments or cancellation of contracts.

    Whilst maintenance loans are to be paid that covers living away from university whilst trying to complete the term I cannot cover both expenses of living locally and for a vacant room he cannot reside in as per his university and government advice?

  5. To terminate on the grounds of frustration, a tenant must demonstrate that COVID-19 and/or the Government’s response has either:

    rendered performance of the lease impossible; or
    rendered performance of the lease radically different to what was envisaged by the parties.

    Your children could not prove the above as:-

    The property is still available to live in and this has not changed. Where the tenant choices not to live at the property this is the students choice.

    The student did not rent this property from an University and therefore cannot prove that letting of this rental property was solely for university purposes. The students home is their rental property and not their parents and the students were informed to stay at home by the UK government.

    Leaving to live with their parents is a breach of the current Covid-19 UK law and a judge might not look too kindly on this for breaching the law.

    The student and or guarentor are contracted to pay the rent and should do so.

    • I find your reply unbelievable. If the tenants all go to University surely that’s why they moved there, plus students can usually only rent student friendly properties. . Most students left their premises before lockdown for Easter Break, not because of the lockdown. Their possessions are still in the premises. They can not return as this would now be illegal with the new Government Law regarding Covid-19. A frustrated contract comes into force as quotes “the common law doctrine of frustration, if the contract becomes illegal as a result of changes in law”.

      The rental contracts issued to students’ states “The Tenant and Landlord agree that the laws of England and Wales shall apply to this Agreement”.

  6. Simon Bell: in my case my child left his student accommodation before the lockdown so he cannot return even if he wanted to without breaking the law.
    He rented his property from a company called student-cribs, they are a specialist student accommodation provider so would have known that the only reason he was in their accommodation was for his studies. The university is shut and he cannot now lawfully return. I would still contend this is a classical contract frustration case.

  7. If we are all prepared to challenged these contracts in court, there will be huge backlog. The first of many cases will give us an ideal of how successful we will be.

  8. My son’s landlord,Student-cribs, are now making reference to the fact he is in receipt of a maintenance loan and should therefore be able to pay his rent regardless. Bloody cheek. They don’t know this for a fact and even if it is the case that he is what business is it of theirs where he gets the money to pay the rent? It’s a loan not a grant and still has to be paid back from somewhere. It’s no different to them saying he won the lottery yesterday so he can afford to pay. If the law is on his side, and I contend it may well be, then whether or not he can afford to pay his rent is immaterial. They want to play hardball on the basis of a contract that is rendered morally unfair by these unprecedented circumstances rather than re-negotiate then so will I.

  9. The doctrine of proving frustration of a contract within English law is very high. If your contract makes no comment about a university letting process then it sound pretty futile claiming that this contract can be frustrated. Good luck with arguing your case here, if you take the to Court and loose you could be exposing yourself to the landlords costs and fees.

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