Dear private landlords and letting agents,
We are writing to you from Leeds University Union, Leeds Beckett Students’ Union, Leeds Trinity Students’ Union, their respective universities and Members of Parliament as representatives of over 70,000 students in the city, many of whom are your tenants.
The last year has been one of disruption and uncertainty for all. Many students signed for their properties before March 2020 and the start of the coronavirus pandemic, without the knowledge of what would happen. The circumstances for students are completely different to when many signed for their property, with many facing loss of employment, changes in family circumstances, additional caring responsibilities, prevention from travelling to the UK and loss of family members.
We are in a time of great financial uncertainty; part time employment is increasingly difficult to find in Leeds and we need to support many more students who find themselves struggling financially. The average annual rent for a purpose built student accommodation room now stands at £6,366, accounting for 73% of the maximum undergraduate student loan outside of London. This leaves undergraduates who receive the highest loan with £2,349 a year for living costs. Those receiving the minimum loan (£4,289) must source the remaining £2,077 as well as living costs from part time employment or financial support from family. Many students rely on part time work in the hospitality industry or financial support from family, which has not been available to them this year. Student loan payments, for many students, are not enough to cover their rental contract alone, as well as living expenses.
We are extremely grateful to those providers who have already given rebates, adjustments or contractual release to their tenants. We ask that where landlords and letting agents are able,
● Offer rent reductions and rebates where possible
● Offer contract release where a tenant does not plan to return during the tenancy or is currently abroad
● Consider special circumstances
● Be flexible in rent payments and charge no late fines
In accordance with the All-Parliamentary Group for Students’ inquiry, we have been lobbying the government to provide accommodation providers with adequate financial support, allowing them to provide rent rebates and contract release for students in such uncertain and unstable times. Following the disappointing increase of £50 million to be allocated across the whole country, we will continue to call on the government to provide more adequate assistance, as it has done for many other sectors.
We thank you for treating your tenants with empathy and flexibility in what is such a difficult time for all.
Community Officer, Leeds University Union
Welfare Officer, Leeds University Union
Union Affairs Officer, Leeds Beckett Students’ Union
Welfare and Community Officer, Leeds Beckett Students’ Union
Alex Sobel MP
MP for Leeds North West
Vice President, Leeds Trinity Students’ Union
President, Leeds Trinity Students’ Union
Professor Simone Buitendijk
Vice Chancellor, University of Leeds
Professor Malcolm Todd
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Leeds Trinity University
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Leeds Beckett University
1- Jones and Blakey, 2020. Student Accommodation: The Facts. HEPI. Available from: [https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2020/08/06/student-accommodation-the-facts/].