Landlords need to give students some breathing room

A recent Concrete article, ‘You signed the contract, pay the rent’, made the argument that students should be required to pay their rent no matter what, even though we’re under lockdown. The writer claimed students should have budgeted for this and implied that students who couldn’t afford rent with their maintenance loan were poorly prepared.

I agree with the original article that these are “unprecedented” times, but I disagree with the statement that “students are still getting their student loans, which means they can still pay their rent if they have properly prepared and budgeted”. I feel this doesn’t address the issues a sizeable portion of students live with.

One concern is a question of what constitutes “properly prepared”? Not all students have the ability to deal with this sort of financial situation. They may have needed to spend their money somewhere else for example. People may have experienced other financial difficulties before all this chaos. Equally students may have supplemented their income by working in a job they now no longer have as a result of the lockdown.

I don’t believe everyone can “just deal with it”. People may have to leave their student house due to health issues, they may have had no other option in their accommodation choices, it’s not that simple for everyone.

I’d make a further point. Some people have greater worries and problems, on top of financial concerns and bill payments. If the landlord offered a rent solution or waiver for some period, then people could focus on their health (both mental and physical), studies or families.

Furthermore, landlords may have a greater ability to budget than students do. They also may have two jobs concurrently (as my landlord does and they very kindly extended our payment date by a couple of weeks), so perhaps have other sources of incomes to rely on. If landlords have multiple properties and still require income help, have they not “prepared properly”? Should we not be criticising the ill-prepared landlords?

Personally, I think that students should helped in the same way people who have a mortgage or rent outside of university are being helped. I do not profess to have the ideal solution but perhaps landlords should have a respectful view of their tenants and compromises could be reached such as an extension to the payment date or a stay of rent payments as the government has already introduced.

It should be remembered that times are difficult for us all and I believe we should help those who need it without being too judgemental as to how they got into that situation. At the end of the day, no one is perfect and everyone will experience some unforeseen difficulty.

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Katie Littler

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September 2021
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