The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on students - academically, socially, and for many, financially too. We know that many of our members are experiencing financial hardship thanks to job losses and instability, compounded by widespread ineligibility for government support, insufficient student loans, and rent commitments for properties largely left empty during the pandemic.
It’s clear that something needed to be done. That’s why we’ve partnered with fellow Students’ Unions at Leeds Beckett and Leeds Trinity to campaign for rent relief for students across Leeds.
The campaign has three main aims:
- To encourage landlords to take up mortgage payment holidays to enable them to provide mutually agreeable solutions and payment plans to student renters;
- To provide rent reductions or early tenancy releases where possible and appropriate;
- To echo the calls of the NUS on action for student renters.
So far the campaign has seen a letter sent to the Chief Executive and 15 members of Leeds City Council outlining its three main calls, as well as a letter to Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, seeking clarity around moving house during lockdown and support available to landlords during this time. Our Welfare Officer Amy Wells, who is leading LUU’s activity within the campaign, also met with Fabian Hamilton MP (Leeds North East) to discuss matters.
You can keep up to date with the campaign’s activity and view councillors’ responses here.
What you can do:
While the Leeds Student Rent Relief campaign is busy lobbying those in power, you can take direct action too.
The campaign has developed a template letter to help you ask your landlord for rent relief during this time, so make sure to utilise this and see if you can reach an agreement. The campaign site (https://leedsstudentrentrelief.co.uk/) also lists what they know so far regarding the actions and intentions of different landlords in Leeds - take a look here. In addition, the campaign is keen to hear about your own experiences as a renter during the pandemic. Let them know here.
Welfare Officer Amy Wells, who is spearheading the campaign at LUU, said:
“In Leeds, yearly student house rents have risen above the yearly loan. Lots of students are facing financial hardship because of the pandemic, but rents are often still being charged at full price for accommodation that many students are no longer using after moving home before lockdown was imposed. We are campaigning for landlords to provide flexibility - rent relief - to student tenants by making use of initiatives like mortgage holidays.”