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 Students “left to fall prey to landlords” claims union

Over a fifth of students questioned in a new survey say they have been unable to pay rent in full over the past four months. 

The National Union of Students claims the costs for housing - primarily private renting - are overwhelming for many students, and pushing them over the brink. Over a quarter also say they have been unable to pay their bills in full over the same period.

Furthermore 70 per cent of student renters are concerned about being able to pay their rent in the coming year. 


The union says the financial problems come on top of those created by the pandemic.

“Students who are unsure if they are finishing their studies this year, international students, students of colour and students with a disability, were more likely to feel this way, highlighting how the cost of housing exacerbates their worries” the NUS states.

Of the almost two in five students who have a different address in term time, 32 per cent returned to their term time address following the Christmas break, while 15 per cent did not actually leave their term time accommodation for Christmas. 

Some 57 per cent of those who chose to return did so because they had paid for their accommodation and therefore wanted to stay there. “This highlights the huge benefit that rent rebates, a key demand of the student movement, could have had to public health at the peak of the second wave” insists the union.

Looking ahead to next year around a fifth of students plan to live with friends in a flat or in halls of residence. For those who plan to be in rented accommodation in September 35 per cent have already signed a contract.

Larissa Kennedy, NUS national president, says: “Students have been hit hard by the pandemic, and the exorbitant costs of accommodation are pushing them to the brink financially. 

“Students are often left to fall prey to landlords and accommodation providers’ predatory practices, such as locking them into tenancy contracts up to a year in advance.”

She continues: “These results show the impact that rent”rebates could have had in ensuring students did not return to campuses unless they needed to. 

“Instead of legislating to support students to leave their tenancies early, as they did in Scotland, the government has left students to rely on charitable handouts from universities, hardship funds, and be at the whim of huge, exploitative accommodation companies and private landlords unwilling to offer rent reductions.

“Students deserve better than to be left to fall through the cracks in support and we urgently need a true student support package to put money back in students’ pockets now. 

“Moving forward, we need to see an overhaul of the student funding system, through the reintroduction of maintenance grants that can properly support us, and radical reform of the private rented sector through the Government’s promised Renters’ Reform Bill to ensure this never happens again.”

The NUS survey took place in March and involved over 5,800 students.

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    Normal for students, ''I'm entitled'', however they have no worries with this landlord, they fall into one of the groups that I will not rent to.

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    “Students are often left to fall prey to landlords and accommodation providers’ predatory practices, such as locking them into tenancy contracts up to a year in advance.”
    Err, no, they sign an AST like any other renter. They also have maintenance loans as always that are there to cover rental costs amongst others. My student properties are fully occupied and have been pretty well all year. None of mine wanted to stay at home with their parents and have been happy to continue living in a house with their mates.

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    • S S
    • 20 April 2021 09:30 AM

    Grumpy Doug
    Yes students sign an AST but UNLIKE other renters - they are pressurised into signing contracts often 10 months before they move into the property - UNLIKE every other renter. I have paid for a room for the last year - which my son has not spent one night in......all because he had to sign a tenancy agreement 9 months before the tenancy started (January 2020) and because often LL dont bother having any time for essential maintenance between tenancies - in this property last year the previous tenants were moving out on the day my son was supposed to move in so he couldn't move in for 5 days! reduced rent - not offered.

    Maintenance loans!! My son receives a maintenance loan of £1,386 to cover 4 months - given that his rent is £550 per month before bills and living expenses, doesn't actually cover much.

    I'm not saying that students should be given rent free by PRS but perhaps signing tenancies 9 months in advance is not a practice that should be encouraged. If all student properties could only be signed for up to 4 months in advance and everyone stuck to it then whats the problem! You'll still get the students you want.

    Furthermore the business models for some LA and LL are to then charge for anything and everything at the end of the tenancy. My son spent 4 hrs cleaning his bathroom/bedroom - removing all the limescale limescale - it was cleaner than when he moved into the room. (thankfully I had photos to prove) - the LA tried to charge for painting a wall because the bed (provided by the LL) had left a tiny mark on the wall!!! The oven and hob apparently needed a professional - again I had photos to prove that it was actually cleaner at the end of the tenancy than at the start... but some LA look at it and think - 5 students - we made them pay a deposit of 2 months (pre June19) so we've got a £1000 per tenant - so we'll charge them £300 each at the end - they will be grateful to get £700 back. Sadly for that LA, I'm a property professional and after evidence and a threat to go to TDS, they backed down.

    SO yes in many ways, students get a raw deal - however, treat them with some level of respect, provide them with a decent well-looked after property and the majority are good tenants. Student houses do require more maintenance because there can up be a large number of adults all living in a small space - but they PAY to live there - and they pay more than a family would for the same space. So the yield is higher. Every LL I know who has a good, looked-after student property doesn't have a problem.
    If you dont choose to be a student LL - Andrew Townsend - fine. But most student are not "I'm entitled" - they are very much aware of the cost that they are incurring - £9k per year tutition fees that no other generation incurred. Student loans they have to pay back - My daughter a recent medical school graduate has left university with around £60k of debt - people who graduated 2 years before her had about £17k - she doesn't get paid any more than they did/do yet her debt is 3x theirs. She's was not "I'm entitled", neither is my son, or my youngest daughter.


    Very few students will ever pay their loans off, they will just get written off, so it's the tax payer subsidizing them again.


    Prudent students will always plan well ahead to get the best flats. Why encourage the next generation of adults NOT to plan ahead - or expect to ignore legal obligations?


    "It was cleaner then when he moved in"......
    If I had a pound for every Tenant that falsely claimed this, I would be a multi millionaire by now!
    On and.... respect is a two way street....

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    • 20 April 2021 10:39 AM

    Student or not, if they cannot afford the rent, then they have to find something else. Simple.
    Students: Welcome to the real world.
    Go out and do some jobs...You all have enough spare time to go down the pub.......

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    My 6 bed student hmo had only 3 tenants this year. 2 of those viewed and signed on 5/9/20 right in the middle of the pandemic. They all went home at Christmas and the 2 late arrivals didn’t return and have decided not to return for the remainder of the year. They’ve refused to pay rent so they’ve only paid 1 term out of 3. My points are 1) they still got their student loan 2) they knew the risks when they signed in sept 3) it was their choice not to return - technically they should have because their term time residence is their legal residence. 4) 80% of students never repay their student loans. Therefore potentially you could argue that the x2 terms rent element is part of the 20% never repaid. Those who do repay in full are the high earners 5) they entered into a legal contract and in the big wide world, that means they have to honour it. I personally can’t afford to let my 2 tenants off their rent. C19 has impacted me severely and of course landlords have not been entitled to a penny of help.


    I agree that most students will be offered a place and the term starts shortly thereafter. Why would anyone sign up 9/10 months in advance as they may not pass the entrance requirements? That you had a sign-up in early September is probably more normal than indicated in this article.


    Sue them and their guarantors.

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    We had overseas students who took advantage of the six month break and went home in March 2020. The apartment was empty for six months, no rent.

    So NUS, how about some help for me, this is my income source. The departing students still had their income and no rent to pay.

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    I know students are brainwashed with self entitlement nowadays, but since when did this include their financial liabilities? Mortgage lenders may have supported borrowers with payment holidays, but the interest is compounded and the borrower still has to pay. If banks won't take the debt as their own, then why should landlords?
    We all have to meet the commitments we take on .....it's called life!


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