Competition & Markets Authority confirms to LandlordZONE that student rental contracts are likely to be covered by its guidance that businesses should offer refunds where a consumer isn’t allowed to use a service as a result of lockdown restrictions.
Student renters could be due refunds if they have to leave accommodation due to the Coronavirus crisis.
Guidance on consumer contracts hit by COVID-19 issued by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) – the body responsible for protecting consumers from unfair trading practices – says in most cases, businesses should offer refunds where a consumer isn’t allowed to use a service as a result of lockdown restrictions.
The CMA has confirmed to LandlordZONE that its guidance could apply to suppliers of student accommodation. It adds: “In most cases, the CMA would expect a full refund to be offered if a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services.”
Students around the country are staging rent strikes where their private landlord has refused to offer a rent refund for the third term – despite them leaving their accommodation after courses moved online.
The National Union of Students has written to private landlords with a list of demands to help student renters financially survive the crisis, including rent subsidies, reductions or waivers for six months for those impacted by Coronavirus.
The National Residential Landlords Association says the Government had made it clear that tenants remain legally liable for their rents and all aspects of the tenancy agreement they’ve signed.
Policy director Chris Norris tells LandlordZONE: “Coronavirus doesn’t preclude any tenant from continuing to live in the property they rent. When lockdown restrictions were introduced it was for individuals to choose where that would be. For students, maintenance loans continue to be paid to cover rents and universities are providing hardship loans for those who might need extra support.”
He adds: “We’re sympathetic to the concerns of students who have left their university accommodation to spend lockdown with their family. In such cases, we’re encouraging landlords to be as reasonable as they possibly can and agree a suitable way forward with their tenants.”