Leeds Students’ Unions join forces to launch Leeds Student Rent Relief campaign
Leeds Trinity Students’ Union has come together with Leeds Beckett and Leeds University Students’ Unions to launch Leeds Student Rent Relief, a new campaign calling for landlord flexibility and rent relief measures for the 70,000 students they represent across Leeds.
The campaign has been launched to tackle the financial impact of Covid-19 upon the city’s student population. Thousands of students in Leeds are experiencing severe financial hardship thanks to job losses and instability, compounded by widespread ineligibility for government support, insufficient student loans, and rent commitments for properties largely left empty during the pandemic.
In fact, research has shown that four in five students are concerned about their ability to manage financially during the Covid-19 outbreak. A fifth are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned - with a trend towards international and disabled students struggling in particular. *
*(Survey of 9,872 students by the National Union of Students, April 2020)
The campaign has three main aims:
> To encourage landlords to take up mortgage payment holidays to enable them to provide mutually agreeable solutions and payment plans to student renters;
> To provide rent reductions or early tenancy releases where possible and appropriate;
> To echo the calls of the NUS on action for student renters.
So far the campaign has seen a letter sent to the Chief Executive and 15 members of Leeds City Council outlining its three main calls, as well as a letter to Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, seeking clarity around moving house during lockdown and support available to landlords during this time. Campaigners have also met with Fabian Hamilton MP (Leeds North East) to discuss matters.
Christopher Dow, LTSU Vice President leading the campaign for Trinity Students, said:
“We represent over 70,000 students across Leeds who have been financially affected by the pandemic, many of whom have had to return home to families and no longer living in student housing but still having to incur the full rent. We’re trying very hard to reduce the amount of financial stress put on our students in this difficult time by applying pressure on landlords across the city as there are many ways in which landlords can support and help our students.”
While the Leeds Student Rent Relief campaign is busy lobbying those in power, it has also provided resources to help students communicate effectively with their landlords.
Amy Wells, Welfare Officer leading on the campaign for Leeds University Union, said:
“In Leeds, yearly student house rents have risen above the yearly loan. Lots of students are facing financial hardship because of the pandemic, but rents are often still being charged at full price for accommodation that many students are no longer using after moving home before lockdown was imposed. We are campaigning for landlords to provide flexibility - rent relief - to student tenants by making use of initiatives like mortgage holidays.”