Tens of thousands of student rent payers have been handed a 50% discount by the UK’s largest student accommodation provider.
In a move likely to put private landlords and lettings agents under pressure to follow suit, Unite Students made the month-long offer after facing pressure from swathes of the student population, who are frustrated at not being able to return to campuses until mid-February. #
It follows news that students at 31 universities were threatening to hold social-media organised rent strikes to protest at having to pay for their empty accommodation.
Unite Students said that as well as the 50% discount, student rent payers would also get a four-week complimentary extension of their tenancy agreement at the end of the academic year, to help them finish any studies, carry on with part-time work, or enjoy summer in their university city.
Both the discount and extension will be available to students checked-in, but not living in, their accommodation between 18th January and 14th February.
It says that it appreciates this is a challenging time for students and Richard Smith, Unite’s chief executive, adds: “The new rent discount recognises the challenges and disruption that students face following the government’s latest lockdown announcement, and we feel that taking this action is the right thing to do.”
Some universities, such as Essex, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle, have already confirmed that students in their accommodation won’t have to pay rent if they don’t come back during lockdown.
But Universities UK says the vast majority of students don’t rent university-owned accommodation and rely on decisions made by private landlords or other providers.
Unions also believe students shouldn’t pay for empty accommodation during lockdown; the National Union of Students is calling for rent rebates and the opportunity to leave tenancies early.