We met with Julia Buckingham and other Senior Staff on Friday the 5th of February, and this is our statement to keep you updated.
Rent – a follow up from our meeting with the University on Friday.
Many of you will be aware that we are in continued negotiations with the University over on-campus rent charges through this lockdown period, and that we have been negotiating from a stance that students living on campus should be given the option to exit from their current license agreements with no penalties. We are sorry to say that we have yet to convince the University to take that move and we continue to argue the point, and have another meeting scheduled this Friday to continue the conversation.
What we have agreed is that we know that no changes will be made by the government to the current situation until at least the 8th March, so the University has agreed to extend the rent freeze period from its current scheduled end date of the 22nd February to at least the 8th March. We are discussing with them this week under what conditions we feel that should be further extended or discontinued.
We have also convinced the University to apply the £200 ‘goodwill gesture’ relating to the period before the end of 2020 to be applied to that period and not applied in the final rent instalment due after April 28th 2021. You should already see this credit on your account or will do very shortly if you were eligible.
The second instalment date, as you will be aware, was pushed back from January 20th 2021 to February 10th 2021 which is this week, but many of you are reluctant to settle bills until you can see the second ‘goodwill gesture’ of £150 relating to the current 2021 lockdown period applied to your statement. Others that currently have rent frozen will also obviously be reluctant to pay a second instalment until they are certain of the level of discount that will apply through the freeze period. We have been assured that the goodwill gesture will be applied as soon as is possible and some of you may notice it on your statement already, however, there are many to process so please be patient. The current payment deadline still applies and at this stage cannot be changed, however, we have had assurances from the accommodation services that no debt relating to 2021 will be actively chased or have any penalty fees applied until at least the 8th March and will be reviewed with us regularly as we get a clearer picture as each week progresses of whether there will be an end to restrictions and a formal ‘reopening of the campus’ after then. They will, however, be chasing any debt that relates to the period before the Christmas break which is now considerably overdue.
Some of you may have also seen some news coverage of additional funding given to universities to help students in Hardship. Whilst, not a huge figure, it is of course welcomed and we have asked that some of it be ringfenced for students off-campus who are not benefiting from any of the discounting or goodwill payments, and we hope that this can be made easy to access in the coming weeks.
We will keep you posted of any development as they happen and endeavour to give you all as much notice as things change or as deadlines loom, and rest assured none of this has diminished our focus to enable license agreements to be terminated and this will still be our primary focus of discussions later this week.