Started by a student in Belfast who claims it is unfair to charge tenants rent when campus studying has been suspended, the petition has garnered increasing support after the BBC and Guardian newspaper gave it coverage.

An online petition calling for students to be let off paying rent this term has been signed by more than 70,000 people.

With universities closing their doors, it asks all landlords to suspend rent payments for students who have had to return home.

Queens University student Jamie Finnegan in Belfast started the change.org petition and believes it’s unfair for students to pay hundreds of pounds a month for a room they’re not using, when most already face other bills every month.

“With hundreds of people being told not to come back to work due to the pandemic, students are going to be left financially unstable and unable to pay for their rent, regardless if they are living there or not,” he says. 

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Finnegan believes that student accommodation providers should realise that their cancellation policies don’t cover scenarios such as the unforeseen pandemic.

He adds: “It’s categorically unfair and greedy to charge students for rent if they are unable to live in their accommodation.”

While some large student accommodation companies and university-run halls of residence are now giving students the option to terminate their contracts early without financial penalty, small private landlords are now being pressured to follow suit.

Early release

The National Union of Students has demanded that every landlord should offer students a no-penalty early release from tenancy contracts for the current and next academic year.

It wants an end to all evictions during the crisis, with rent subsidies, reductions or waivers for six months for those impacted by Coronavirus, and no rent increases for the next 12 months.

Around the country, hundreds of university students have also signed up to a rent strike, including those renting off-campus at the University of Warwick.

6 COMMENTS

  1. A typically tenant centric attitude which completely ignores the fact that many landlords have only one property and are dependant on income from that for their own support. The government is not offering to pay landlords for lost rent, and those that are able to claim a mortgage holiday are getting only that – a temporary respite, the mortgage arrears will still ultimately have to be paid. In contrast student loan payments have not been suspended, and so little impact on student tenants income and ability to pay rent, yet they expect to be let off. University halls of residence can probably afford to do this, but the smaller private landlord can not.

    • Speaking as a former ‘student’ and now as a ‘landlord’ I feel it only right to clarify a few points having been on Both Sides of the Fence.

      STUDENTS:
      First and foremost it is unfair, unkind and quite frankly human ignorance to generalise about students; suggesting they do nothing but drink, take drugs and eat take-aways.
      Because they actually do more than that! They have loads of awesome parties, more sex than most can ever dream of having, have masses friends, and probably the best social life in one weekend than most readers here have in an entire year! (Only speaking from my own experiences & experiences of those I know of course).
      Yet in between this hectic student life, these young vibrant souls still manage to such, write loads of assignments, write a 10 to 20 thousand dissertation (dependent on degree course) ….AND work too to support themselves and pay for their student accommodation.
      Most students are very friendly and extremely hard working.

      LANDLORDS:
      Rest assured my former fellow students and readers alike. As a Landlord I do not own a second home in Barbados! In fact I don’t know one landlord who does? (And I know a few Landlords).
      Like most landlords, I only own two small apartments that I worked extremely hard for. Rather ironically I took out my first mortgage as a Student!
      My main source of income is now my two rental properties, so should I receive no rent – I get no income, and should that happen then the bank will repossess my property as they did in the 2008 recession.
      So like my time as a student – and as a Landlord now, times can be very challenging no matter what side of the fence you are on as our individual lives and circumstances inevitably dictate the road we follow.

      IN SUM:
      Don’t judge people simply on your own assumptions and bad experiences. Landlord’s provide students with homes so they are able to study, without such these hard working hormone raged students would not be able to study – thus developing themselves and improving our great nation and economy

  2. You’ve said it all Chris D. The Government’s advice is for students to continue paying their rent and it also advised the students to stay in their ‘household’ i.e. student accommodation and not go home i.e. to a different household. It was their decisions to leave their accommodation not the landlords. The University where I own a house is also offering students up to £300 to cover loss of earnings if they lose their part time jobs. Really, how one-sided can it get? I’m a 75-year pensioner already with a lot of stress due to the virus yet I’m expected to starve while the students use their extra money on take-aways and drink (not to mention drugs!)

    • It’s a shame that if I disagree with you, it doesn’t really matter because the property writer of this post is only interested in students being chastised for a situation that is out of their control. Forget the new generation, let’s make sure property owners can have a nice get away home in Barbados (this is ironic in contrast to the drugs comment).

      Bigot.

      • Hi Teddy R – as editor of LZ I am keen that the sit reporting is balanced and factural – this story was written to present the facts of the campaign to landlords so they understand what’s going on – no where does it chastise students for a situation that’s is out of their control. And industry income data shows that most landlords are unlikely to be retiring to Barbados anytime! Nigel

  3. @biddy1234 What a close minded statement, not to mention the latter to assume all students will spend maintenance loans on drink, takeaways and drugs. Most students do not have the choice to stay, especially myself as a student returning home to care for a vulnerable adult – I was more than happy to continue paying my extortionate rent minus the £400 non-refundable deposit. How can I be expected to pay for a room that I do not live in where my outgoings are more than my income? I won’t mention the landlord in question but I had offered my entirety of the student loan I was given as a surrender to the tenancy which covered more than 2/3 of the full tenancy period which they strongly rejected – now is that greed, or am I just high on drugs…

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