An influential group of MPs is calling on the government to refund student
rents during the lockdown.
The call has been made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Students,
which includes peers and MPs from all political parties.
They want the government to deliver a £700 million hardship fund for
students in England.
The aim is to deliver financial help to students living in private rented
houses or halls.
The group also wants the Government to introduce tenancy break clauses for
'Students should find breaking a tenancy agreement much easier'
The group's chairman, Paul Blomfield, said that students should find
breaking a tenancy agreement much easier than they do currently, and that
landlords should be able to re-let that property more easily to avoid
Mr Blomfield said: "From the evidence we have received, it should be a
priority to provide students with financial assistance and an emergency
fund for the full compensation for their rents in underused accommodation
because of the lockdown measures."
Students in Wales have already been offered £80 million of extra funding to
deal with lockdown hardship by the Welsh government.
For students in England, they have been offered £20 million and this week,
the government delivered another £50 million.
The extra money will, the government says, help students struggling with
financial pressures including paying for alternative student accommodation
and their extra online teaching costs.
The cash will be handed to universities for distribution and they will be
able to prioritise those students most in need of financial help.
Money will help student tenants
The money will help student tenants, as well as international students,
maintain their accommodation in more than one location.
Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said: "The additional support
will provide tangible, real help for students struggling financially.
"The government welcomes also the decision from many student accommodation
providers and universities to offer rent rebates to students who are
staying away from their term-time address."
The National Residential Landlords' Association (NRLA) welcomed the move to
support student renters financially and urged the government to consider
offering help to all tenants.
The NRLA's chief executive, Ben Beadle, said: "Given that students continue
to receive maintenance loans along with the new funding, ministers should
explain why the support is not being offered to other renters who are
struggling as a result of the pandemic."
Package to help tenants repay their arrears
He added that the government needs to develop a package that will enable
tenants to repay their arrears that have built-up since the lockdown was
introduced last March - just as they are doing for students - and this will
help landlords and tenants maintain a tenancy.
Simon Thompson, the managing director of Accommodation for Students, also
welcomed the government funding.
He said: "Student landlords have bills to pay and the money to help
students who are struggling to pay rent will be welcomed."