Student unions in Leeds call for rent relief for students during pandemic

The Leeds Student Rent Relief campaign has been launched following a National Union of Students (NUS) survey, which found that four in five students are concerned about their ability to manage financially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Leeds Beckett, the University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity’s student unions have joined forces to call for rent relief measures for the 70,000 students they represent across Leeds.

The Leeds Student Rent Relief campaign has been launched following a National Union of Students (NUS) survey, which found that four in five students are concerned about their ability to manage financially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study found a fifth of students are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned – with a trend towards international and disabled students struggling in particular.

The new campaign calls for landlords to take up mortgage payment holidays to help them find solutions and payment plans to student renters.

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Campaigners are also encouraging rent reductions or early tenancy releases to students where possible and they have provided resources to help students communicate with their landlords.

The unions have sent a letter 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

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.”

Jess Carrier, Welfare and Community Officer leading the campaign for Leeds Beckett Students’ Union, said: “The Covid-19 Pandemic has highlighted the financial inequalities that affect so many students across Leeds.

“Rent levels continue to rise way above the average student loan, meaning many students have to be supported by families or take up part time work – both are now no longer viable.

“Accommodations lay empty, yet students are still being charged full rent and utilities in many cases. We are urging landlords and agents to be flexible in their approach, and provide rent relief and reductions to students.”

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.

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