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Manchester universities urge landlords to release students from contracts

Universities and Students’ Unions across Manchester have released an open letter urging landlords to release students from their private rental contracts early if they have vacated the property.

Following a move to online teaching and assessment as a precaution to slow the spread of covid-19 earlier this month, a huge number of students in Manchester have left their rented accommodation and returned to their family homes.

In light of this, universities in Greater Manchester have collectively announced a plea to private landlords “to release students who have already vacated properties from their rental contracts.”

In an open letter, Vice-Chancellors and Students’ Union officers from UoM, Salford, RNCM and MMU requested this “act of generosity” during the “exceptional circumstances” the country is currently facing.

Open letter to private landlords from Mcr Universities.

Previously in mid-March, the University of Manchester announced that it would not charge students rent beyond March 21st if they vacated their University halls by March 31st.

Alongside this, UoM has come to financial agreements with several private student accommodation companies in Manchester, meaning that residents who left these halls would also be released from rent payments for the final few months of the academic year.

Email sent by the University of Manchester to students in University halls.

While this is certainly a positive step for students in halls, there are still a number of students in private rented housing in the city who may not have come to such an arrangement with their landlords.

The Students’ Union Advice service has provided the following guidelines for students hoping to come to an arrangement regarding ending their rental contract during the lockdown:

“The law is that after signing a tenancy agreement you are liable to the contract which means you are obligated to pay rent even if you move out. Your tenancy could be ended early if your landlord agrees to an early release or your contract has a break clause. Unfortunately, this is very rare. The Advice Service offers a contract checking service if you would like for us to check your tenancy agreement for any break clauses.
“We often see that the only way to end a private tenancy early, is to find a tenant to replace you. However, this is something that is likely to be difficult during this time. In this case, the first option you could try is to request an early release from contract on compassionate grounds. 
 
“You can negotiate with your landlord and they may be sympathetic to your request if they understand your reasons. For example, if you have had to move out of Manchester urgently because you needed to care for or support someone vulnerable.
 
“If your landlord or agent does not agree to the release then you could try and request a delay in rent payments with no late fees or a rent reduction. Your landlord may be sympathetic especially if you have suddenly found yourself in a difficult financial situation.”
For more information or to arrange an appointment, contact [email protected].

The open letter written by Manchester Universities to private landlords can be read in full on the University of Manchester website

Tags: advice service, coronavirus, MMU, open letter, Private landlord, Rental contract, renting, salford, uom

Anja Samy

Editor-In-Chief of The Mancunion and Head of Manchester Media Group.
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