Trading standards target students with Twitter quiz

Steve Lumley·14 October 2020·4 min read
Trading standards target students with Twitter quiz

One trading standards department is targeting student tenants with information about lettings fees - and ending a tenancy early.

The Trading Standards South West Team has been busy staging Twitter quizzes to highlight students' knowledge on tenancies.

The team represents 12 local authorities in the region where hundreds of thousands of students are attending universities in Plymouth, Bath, Bristol and Exeter.

And, along with three universities; Bristol, Exeter and Falmouth, the team has been running a social media information campaign.

The questions are also aimed at raising awareness of guarantor fees and a credit check, and whether these are permitted under the Tenant Fees Ban.

The team is also highlighting how students can end their tenancy early should there be a coronavirus outbreak, what size deposit can be requested by their landlord and highlighting the various deposit schemes.

Campaign to ensure students understand the Tenant Fees Ban

The trading standards department has also been pushing a campaign to warn against unscrupulous landlords - particularly when it comes to making upfront payments on rooms.

Under the Tenant Fees Ban, it's illegal for agents or landlords to charge some fees unless they are a 'permitted payment'.

However, Trading Standards South West says that many young people do not know of the dangers or the rules.

A regional coordination officer, Stuart Radnedge, said: "For students signing a private accommodation tenancy agreement, it can be daunting, particularly if you are unclear about what you should be asked to pay."

He added: "There's a risk that students could be asked to pay hundreds of pounds in upfront payments and fees that under the new legislation are not considered to be a permitted payment."

The move drew support from Simon Thompson, the managing director of Accommodation for Students, who said: "Educating young people about their rights and their responsibilities is good for the student lettings sector – harmonious landlord and tenant relationships are important and student accommodation sites like ours help students find quality homes they will enjoy."

Unite Students sees income take a hit

Meanwhile, one of the country's largest providers of student housing says that its profitability has been affected by cancellations.

Unite Students says that the number of cancellations in recent weeks has been higher than usual because of growing coronavirus cases.

The provider delivers accommodation for 74,000 students in 27 cities and towns.

The growing number of cancellations means it has fallen short of its 90% occupancy target – reaching an 88% rate. In September 2019, their occupancy rate was 98%.

The company says it is looking to recoup lost income by securing extra lettings in January, which is the revised starting date for some postgraduate courses.