Bristol Councillors sign open letter to student landlords


By Filiz Emily Gurer, News Editor

A cross-party letter signed by local councillors and council candidates is calling on student landlords and letting agents to support students with their housing provision.

The open letter which has 67 signatories to it, was started by students Dylan Woodward, Rhianna Prewett and Elliott Callender, all of whom are standing as Labour council candidates in Bristol.

The letter calls for specific support for students in the private housing sector, who have not been covered by the University’s rent rebate and reduction arrangements.

Signatories to the letter call for landlords and agents to offer:

  • A rent waiver or a significant rent reduction for the period of lockdown if their tenant is unable to return to Bristol.
  • A no-penalty contract release without needing to find a replacement tenant if their tenant does not want to return to Bristol for the duration of the tenancy due to COVID-19.
  • A significant rent reduction (for example 50%) for students who are losing out financially but remain in residence for the period of lockdown.

Signed by members of the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties, the letter outlines the financial hardships students have been facing. It notes that many students working part-time jobs in the hospitality sector will have lost the essential income which they rely upon to pay their rent.

Citing that ‘the average student maintenance loan is not enough to cover rent in Bristol’ the letter points out that it is ‘clearly a significant burden on students to be paying full rent for properties which some have not been able to access all year.’

The letter acknowledges that some landlords may not be in a position financially to offer students the measures they are calling for, but ‘urge[s] that [they] make use of the financial aid the Government has put in place, such as mortgage holidays, to allow [them] to support tenants in this way’, and encourages landlords to communicate with students about their situations.

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The publication of the letter from Councillors comes as statistics generated by the 2021 National Student Accommodation Survey showed a noticeable difference between the numbers of students asking for rent rebates in halls, and those asking for rebates with private landlords.

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As many as two-thirds of the students polled had asked for a refund in university accommodation, compared to just under one in five students with private landlords who had made the same request.

The letter signed by Bristol City Council councillors and council candidates follows similar letters published by the University of Bristol and Bristol Students’ Union.

Featured image: Bristol City Council

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