Students at 31 universities are threatening to hold social-media organised rent strikes in a bid to win rent reductions.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that they won’t be able to return to campuses until mid-February, at least 3,000 angry students have signed up to protest at having to pay for their empty accommodation.

Rent strike groups have been appearing on Instagram and inspiring students to sign up at campuses including Brighton, Manchester, Nottingham and Lancaster.

Even before the latest lockdown, a number of protests were being held around the country by young people upset at the lack of face-to-face teaching; in Manchester it resulted in a 30% rent cut at university accommodation.

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Activism

Student website The Tab is encouraging more students to get involved and start their own rent strike group, using resources from the Rent Strike network on Instagram, featuring Zoom training from experienced rent strikers and lawyers.

Its handbook on organising strikes during the pandemic is aimed at students in university halls, but also has practical information for those in private accommodation

The Rent Strike network says: “No uni wants to get bad press after evicting struggling students. We know it’s a risky tactic, and it’s worth knowing the possible consequences of such a campaign. You want to be ready for the worst. But we have incredibly strong political arguments and the potential to build a huge movement that goes with it.”

The NUS is calling for rent rebates and the opportunity to leave tenancies early. Vice president higher education, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, says: “The government’s inability to deal with the pandemic has once again led us to a sadly necessary national lockdown. Ongoing disruption means students are struggling to make ends meet – students need substantial support.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. Whilst I have sympathy for students paying for accommodation they cannot use I hope they are also being advised of the effect on their futures that a CCJ for non payment of rent my have.

    Whilst University provided accommodation might not be accessible to them, those students in private rentals face a different situation and LLs receiving no rent with no ability to relet a room still under contact and mortgages to pay might be less sympathetic and choose to pursue the tenants.

    I would advise anyone in private rentals to talk to the LL and try to find a solution rather than simply not paying. A CCJ might have huge repercussions for them when they next try to rent, buy, get a credit card etc.

  2. I suspect that the uni year might have to be extended into the Easter break, weekends and beyond the end of the uni year. If this happens unis could offer free accommodation for these extra weeks when the rooms would be empty. A similar offer might come from private landlords where students just pay for utilities and any additional insurance or WHY.

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