University of Portsmouth backs calls for private landlords to drop student rents at unused homes
THE city’s university is backing calls to reduce rent costs for students during lockdown.
The University of Portsmouth has endorsed a plea by its students’ union for private landlords to offer a discount on costs.
It comes as many undergraduates are no longer using their accommodation.
University-owned homes are already providing an 80 per cent reduction on rent, with some other halls providers following suit with a discount.
However, students paying for rooms in private houses or in flats have not been afforded the same concessions.
Destiny Karakus, the democracy and campaign officer at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union, said: ‘Our students are currently being put at a disadvantage for being good citizens and following the guidance and regulations.
‘Due to the government's decision to stop face-to-face teaching, many of our students are not living in their term-time accommodation but still having to pay rent, several of these students have also lost their part-time jobs or not been able to find work.’
A spokesman for the university added: ‘Many students live in private housing, which means that they cannot benefit from these reductions or refunds.
‘We support UPSU lobbying private landlords and accommodation providers to start a conversation about providing similar support to students.’
But Alwin Oliver, the vice chairman of the Portsmouth Landlords’ Association said private landlords had received ‘far fewer calls for rent discount’ compared to the first lockdown.
‘We recommend that landlords follow government guidelines and ask that tenants to the same, he said.
‘But it is important to remember that in many cases rent on one or a small number of student properties may be a landlords sole or main income and of course there is no government help for landlords, unlike employees or people who are self employed, for example in a trade.
‘In general, private accommodation offers much better value than halls, especially where students have opted to pay their own utility bills, some of which will of course be lower due to the property being unoccupied.’
It comes as Unite Students announced it would extend its 50 per cent rent reduction until March.
It has halls in Greetham Street, Trafalgar Hall in Guildhall Walk and Chaucer House in Isambard Brunel Road.