An Open Letter to Liverpool's Student Accommodation Providers

Thursday 28-01-2021 - 11:22
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Last week, your Officers teamed up with the Liverpool Guild of Students, Liverpool Hope Students' Union and Kim Johnson, MP of Riverside to send an open letter to Liverpool's Purpose-Built Student Accommodation Providers, asking them to provide support for Liverpool's student community. Read the letter below and we will update you all as and when we receive updates. 

Dear Purpose-Built Student Accommodation Providers,

As lead representatives of Liverpool’s Students’ Unions, it is our duty to amplify the concerns of our student community and ensure their voices are heard at a time of national crisis and uncertainty. Chief amongst students concerns at present is the issue of accommodation rent payments and the uncertainty presented to students due to Coronavirus (Covid-19) and Government travel restrictions.

Across the country, following University and Government advice, students have travelled to the city in order to pursue an education with the understanding that a physical presence was required. Students entered into tenancies with the expectations that they needed to be here. Since the start of the academic year, the majority of students have had little to no face-to-face teaching and as such have had no reason to be paying rent in the city. In addition, and in line with government guidance, many students left the city to return home for the winter break in December, only to be instructed to remain at home, leaving many of them paying rent for rooms they are no longer occupying. In following such guidance, students now face increasing uncertainty as to where they stand in relation to their rent payments.

We are calling on all PBSA providers in the city to voluntarily enact five measures outlined below:

  1. Allow students to be released from tenancy contracts if they wish so, without financial penalties.
  2. Refund 100% of rent for the weeks during the 3rd national lockdown in which students have been advised to not return to the city and be on campus, in line with national government guidance.
  3. Commit to not charging rent for students who are not occupying rooms.
  4. Refund the rent paid by students that never moved into their accommodation.
  5. Refund the rent for the weeks during the travel window before Christmas when students were planning to travel home were legally obliged to leave their student accommodations early.

We are facing a global crisis on a scale of which has not been seen for generations. We believe that, as big companies that have complex mitigation plans, the financial difficulties should be taken on by those who have the ability to do so – the shock should not be absorbed by students. That’s why, alongside our call for you all to voluntarily enact these measures.

Following on from the precedent set by the Universities and private accommodations across the UK, including that of the University of Liverpool, it is evident that you have the ability to do this as PBSA providers. We are sure you will also be aware of national campaigns and student-led organizations calling for these changes and we urge you to consider our requests carefully. We expect that you would join this direction of travel.

In writing this letter, we are speaking on behalf of the tens of thousands of students across Liverpool. Student anxiety is at an all-time high and we hope you would do everything in your power to address these concerns.

We hope that you share this letter with your respective boards and take our concerns seriously.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Kim Johnson Member of Parliament, Liverpool, Riverside

Adnan Hussain President, Liverpool Guild

Imogen de Castro Gray Deputy President, Liverpool Guild

Ffion Thomas Vice President, Liverpool Guild

Chloe Field Vice President, Liverpool Guild

Lila Tamea President, John Moores SU

Megan Hill Vice President Community Engagement, John Moores SU

Tuba Shahzad Vice President Academic Quality, John Moores SU

Emily Roxbee Cox Vice President Activities, John Moores SU

Harry Pearce President, Hope SU

Sally Wills Vice President Welfare and Community, Hope SU

Ollie Smith Vice President Sports and Activities, Hope SU

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