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Canterbury University law student urges private landlords to waive final rent fees

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Some students expected to pay upwards of £2,000 for rooms no longer in use during COVID-19 lockdown

A Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) law student has called on the landlords of private student halls to waive final rent fees amid the coronavirus crisis.

Molly Fitzpatrick, a first-year law student, launched an online petition this month urging CRM Students, a private accommodation provider to students residing in Canterbury, Kent, to scrap final rent payments which for some is upwards of £1,750.

She writes that it would be extremely “immoral and unjust” to expect struggling students to pay the remainder of the year’s rent for rooms they are no longer living in.

Many university students have vacated their term-time residence in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown to isolate with their families at home. They’re able to do so as teaching and assessments have, for the most part, moved online.

A number of universities, including CCCU, have decided not to charge rent to students not returning to their rooms this academic year.

In an open letter CCCU urged landlords and private providers to follow its example and “mitigate the turmoil” COVID-19 has caused students. It acknowledges that some private providers have already put special measures in place to accommodate students during the current pandemic.

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Fitzpatrick’s petition, which has amassed 1,178 signatures, continues:

“In these unprecedented times it has been the advise of university’s and student unions to waiver the final rent instalment. However, CRM and landlords have ignored this advise and are still expecting to collect upwards of £1,750 from each tenant, despite most of them not being there.”

It adds: “Most students residing in these halls are heavily supported by parents and carers, alongside supporting themselves in part-time jobs. With this in mind, money is scarce for many families and students after losing their jobs, and taking pay-cuts.”

Stewart Moore, chief executive officer, CRM Students, told Legal Cheek he empathises with students, and pointed out that of the 65 student buildings CRM manages across the UK, around 60 have already decided to waive final rent fees.

Moore added that CRM manages the buildings, it does not own them and so does not make decisions on collecting rent without the client’s instruction to do so.

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