Student tenants urged to check their home’s license status

Steve Lumley·17 October 2022·5 min read
Student tenants urged to check their home’s license status

Student tenants are being urged by one organisation to check that their accommodation complies with the law – including having the proper licence if it is an HMO.

The call is being made by a firm called Very Wise Student, they offer support and specialist advice to students which includes help in carrying out legal checks.

They made their warning after a 242-room student accommodation block in Oxford was told to repay £84,877 in rent to tenants because it did not have a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

However, the council accepted that the firm running the accommodation, S C Osney Management, had not deliberately avoided applying for a licence but they had overlooked obtaining one.

Apply for a rent repayment order

After an investigation by the local council, the student tenants were encouraged to apply for a rent repayment order and 44 of them did so.

The founder of Very Wise Student, Ajay Jagota, said: “Most students do not have the legal knowledge for upholding their rights or have the resources to lawyer-up.

“For most students, their accommodation’s legal status will be the last thing on their mind but not only are things like a gas safety certificate a matter of life and death, they could claim rent refunds or compensation if the landlord hasn’t fulfilled their legal obligations.”

‘Unlikely they are the only landlord without the necessary paperwork’

He added: “Even though the company was found to not have deliberately failed to obtain a licence, it’s unlikely they are the only landlord without the necessary paperwork, and I advise students to take advantage of free specialist services to ensure their legal rights are protected.”

The managing director of Accommodation for Students, Simon Thompson, said: “All student landlords need to comply with the law and most of them will do.

“Having the relevant licences and certificates in place is part and parcel of running quality student accommodation and student tenants have the right to see evidence that the landlord is complying with the law.”

Government will continue to abolish no-fault evictions

The government has confirmed that it will abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions – after The Times newspaper revealed that they would be shelving plans for the abolition of Section 21 . The news sparked a furore from housing campaigners. The move to abolish Section 21 was unveiled by Boris Johnson and was part of Michael Gove’s Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.

Unite will hike rents next year by 5%

Unite, the largest student landlord in the UK, has revealed that it will increase rents by 5% for the next academic year. They say that demand for its accommodation is rising and for the current academic year, they have let 99% of beds, up from 94% last year. They point out that there are also ‘significant’ waiting lists and strong demand from overseas students.

Students begging for accommodation

The extent of the student housing crisis in Scotland has been laid bare in a BBC report that reveals that university students there have been begging letting agents to accept their accommodation bids. One agent says they are inundated every day with students crying because they can’t find anywhere to live for their studies. Some students are sleeping in common rooms or in hostels, and others have long commutes to attend lectures. One agent says that along with rising student numbers, there has been a 40% drop in private sector properties to rent compared with pre-pandemic levels. A new campaign group formed by students in Glasgow is also calling on the University to take more responsibility for the lack of student accommodation . The group represents 70 students who still have nowhere to live, and some are being housed in Premier Inns with some students reporting that rents have been hyped in the city, while others risk living in dangerous conditions.

Students commute to Bristol from Wales

It’s not just in Scotland where students are struggling to find accommodation, the University of West England is also finding a shortage of student properties . The University is now housing students 30 miles away in Wales and it takes them more than an hour to travel to attend lectures. The report in the Express reveals that one student has already left their studies because living in Newport was too difficult.