Government Will Not Act In Student Landlord Dispute

AFS Team·7 May 2020·4 min read
Government Will Not Act In Student Landlord Dispute

Government Will Not Act In Student Landlord Dispute

The Government's housing minister says he will not act in a growing dispute between student landlords and their tenants.

The Minister, Chris Pincher, has confirmed that he will not intervene in a bid to make student accommodation providers and student landlords waive any rents that are due for student tenants.

This is despite an increasingly vociferous campaign being carried out by the National Union of Students demanding action.

Mr Pincher was responding to a question in the House of Commons about whether the government is preparing to step in and help mediate between student tenants and landlords as the Covid-19 lockdown continues.

He said: "Letting agencies, landlords and tenants have obligations that have not changed during this period and the tenant remains liable for rent.

'Chosen to release students from contracts early'

"Some private accommodation providers and universities have chosen to release students from contracts early and not charge rent for those students who return home.

"In the case of private landlords and letting agencies, however, the negotiation of rent waivers with their student tenants is a matter between the concerned parties."

He added that the government is encouraging tenants, letting agencies and landlords to take up a 'common-sense and pragmatic approach' in a bid to deal with the problem under the current circumstances.

The move follows a growing campaign that is stretching across key university campuses, including those in York, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham.

Also, students in Warwick, Reading, Cambridge, Huddersfield, East Anglia, as well as keel and Bristol are campaigning to be given a rent waiver because they are not living in their accommodation.

Students say they should be released from their tenancies for the last weeks of the second semester and also for the weeks after the Easter break.

Coronavirus rent freeze turned down

Meanwhile, a bid by a campaign group for a Coronavirus rent freeze for all tenants to be introduced has been turned down by the housing minister.

Generation Rent says that tenants who are facing rent rises must now accept them after they called for the rent freeze to be introduced for a year.

However, the housing minister Chris Pincher says that rent rises are permitted during the lockdown and that tenants who can afford to pay rent should continue doing so.

He added that a ban was not being considered and the Coronavirus Act 2020 contains measures that protect social and private tenants.

These include the banning of evictions for up to three months and Local Housing Allowance being unfrozen.

In answer to an MP's question, Mr Pincher, said: "If arrears have built up at the end of this period, tenants and landlords are expected to work together to establish affordable repayment plans, which take into account the tenant's circumstances."