Preston’s university has written to many private halls of residence and landlords in the city urging them for leniency for students stuck in lockdown.Advertisement
A joint letter from the vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire and the President of the UCLan Students’ Union has been sent 21 halls of residence providers.
The move comes as the university announced it was waiving accommodation fees for the third semester for any student who was remaining in the city for lockdown.
In the letter, Professor Graham Baldwin and President Suntosh Kaur, outline how many students are remaining in halls of residence and many ‘face financial difficulty’.
They write: “We recognise the significant financial challenges faced by our students at this time, with loss of income and stretched resources. We are committed to helping our students succeed in work and in life and we firmly believe this was the right decision to make. As you can imagine we have been inundated with questions from students in private accommodation who are worried about having to make final semester payments.
“We are therefore writing to private providers to ask you to support our students during these unprecedented times, and we urge you to consider how you can make a difference to our students and take action in line with ourselves.”
The letter comes as one group of students, currently remaining in the Trinity Village and Foundry Court blocks of accommodation in Great Shaw Street, have set up a petition calling for third term rent fees to be scrapped.
Read more: Final year Preston nursing and medical students join the frontline against coronavirus
Nearly 200 people have signed the petition calling on Homes for Students, the parent company, to waive the fees.
The petition starters, who have asked to remain anonymous, state: “Many students have left their accommodation to return home due the current global pandemic. Others remain stranded due to the current UK lockdown. HFS are taking none of this into consideration and forcing students to pay the full rent amount even though our universities are closed and we have no reason to remain in this property.
“Other student accommodations including our own university have waived the final payment and are allowing students to either surrender their contract, not pay their final semester at all or remain in the property. However, we have no such choice.”
Read more: Petition gains 3,000 signatures calling for grades at UCLan to be protected
Homes for Students, in a statement on their website, said: “We completely understand the uncertainty and concern that coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing and we are doing everything we can to help any of you that may be affected during these unprecedented times.
“Please be reassured that the health and wellbeing of our residents, as well as our team members, is Homes for Students’ top priority.
“Homes for Students have been engaging with all owners to assess what measures each one can agree to in order to support students who have tenancy agreements in their properties
“As discussions with the owners of the buildings continue in relation to the ongoing situation with third term rents, we have started to contact some students where decisions have now been made. This will continue daily as we get more decisions in from the respective owners
“This is a complex process and we are working hard with the owners to be able to get updates to every student as soon as possible, so if you have not yet been contacted with an outcome we ask that you continue to have patience.”
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines