A group of University of Central Lancashire students with tenancies at private halls of residence have gone on rent strike.Advertisement
Students from Foundry Court in Brook Street and Trinity Student Village in Great Shaw Street are campaigning against being charged a third rent instalment, despite not occupying their accommodation for any of the third term due to lockdown.
A student who lives at Foundry Court, who asked not to be named, is part of the strike. They said: “I have had to leave my term time address in Preston and go to my permanent address in North Devon.
“There is no possibility of me being able to return to my accommodation this term due to government imposed lockdown rules, yet the landlords are charging £1,267.71 for a room that will have zero electricity consumption, zero water usage and zero use of the gas supply.”
The student claims that tenancy terms and conditions are not being met during lockdown. They said trained security guards have been replaced with student wardens with “next to no training”, and that remaining tenants are reporting that maintenance and cleaning standards have dropped.
In an email to the student, property managers Homes for Students said the decision to continue charging rent had been made by the owner of the building:
“Your landlord is not in a financial position themselves to be able to release a large number of students from their contracts. They have significant fixed costs to meet in order to continue to operate the property for those students that are still in occupation, along with their own repayment obligations.
“Homes For Students have fully advised and liaised with all property owners regarding the current situation and your landlord did not make this decision lightly.”
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In response to this, the student said they fear students will struggle financially.
They said: “Many students have no extra source of income and will rely heavily on their maintenance loans to support their families whilst back home. If rent is deducted from the maintenance loan, students will be left in a difficult financial position.
“Whilst I do not wish compromised living standards upon current tenants staying in the accommodation, why should tenants not residing in the accommodation have to contribute to keeping the business running during an unprecedented time like this?”
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A spokesperson for the university said: “UCLan has waived all third semester accommodation fees for students who have a UCLan accommodation contract.
“In collaboration with the UCLan Students’ Union, the measure was taken as part of the University’s on-going plan to support students during the coronavirus pandemic.
“While we cannot make the same decision for private third-party providers, we have contacted them to see if they can agree to similar measures.
“Some private landlords have considered what they can do to ease our students’ financial burden and make a difference during this difficult time. We do however appreciate that some student landlords are small businesses and decisions of this nature are not easy.”
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