The following advice has been provided by University Surrey Lettings (USL)


Following on from the news bulletin regarding private landlords we have the following information for you, a summary can be found under Renting from Private Landlords here. You can also find helpful advice on this situation by watching the Students’ Union Facebook live session about housing with guests from Shelter & the University.

 

It is likely that you will have signed a fixed term contract which remains legally binding despite the current health pandemic. As such in theory rental payments must kept up regardless of whether you are living in the property or not as per the agreement. We are however in unprecedented times and would like to think landlords and agents would show our students some compassion with regards to keeping up rental payments. If your landlord agrees to a rent holiday period you will be required to pay this back & need to agree a repayment plan. If you do not pay your rent your landlord can pursue your guarantor & this may lead to a County Court Judgement against both parties.

 

The best way to deal with the current situation is to ensure strong communication is kept with your landlord and come to an agreement with them that all parties are happy with. In general the terms to be reconsidered will be:

  • Early Termination: Will your landlord allow you to leave the property sooner than originally contracted? This may not be today but may be at a date between now and when your contract is due to end that is fair.
  • Rent Reduction: Would you landlord consider reducing the rent to ease the pressure on you financially, this may be justified if you are not actually staying in the property for the coming weeks.
  • Find out further information below or review the government guidelines here.

Eviction

Rent payment problems - contact moneysupport@surrey.ac.uk for an emergency loan

Benefits & other financial help - apply to the university hardship fund

Landlord access to your home

 

As per your contracts your landlord has the right to refuse the above proposals which is why it is key to outline why you are asking to give them a chance to empathise with you as much as possible. Points to include will be:

  • Loss of income: Have you lost your job or means to pay the rent?
  • Having moved out: It can be argued that you have had to move out of the property through no fault of your own and as such cannot access the accommodation you are paying for.
  • The University's position: The University of Surrey has outlined that we feel landlords should do what they can to help students and relieve financial pressure, as essentially that’s the "right thing to do". 

Be aware you will still remain liable for your bills until you are released from your contract & your supplier has agreed to terminate your agreement with them also. If you withdraw from university you will also become liable for council tax until your tenancy is terminated.

Ultimately it is going to come down to a case by case basis, each landlord will take a view and compromise or not. 

Always communicate with your landlord in writing, ideally via email. If you have a phone call conversation follow it up with an email to outline what has been talked about. 

 

If you have exhausted the above options & are unable to come to an agreement with your landlord, please contact USL (usl@surrey.ac.uk) to see how we may be able to support.