Walton Robinson, the Newcastle-based property agency, is urging the government to outline a package of support measures for students in private rented accommodation facing hardship or difficulties due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The call comes as the latest national lockdown has reduced the number of students returning to university, many of whom will be unable to return until at least mid-February.
As one of the city’s leading estate and letting agents, with a growing portfolio of student accommodation, Walton Robinson has urged the government to take action to ensure that students in private accommodation are able to fulfill their contractual obligations.
By providing direct financial support to students, the government would also be protecting landlords, who rely upon this income in order to continue offering accommodation to students, as well as keeping up with the maintenance of properties.
During its daily coronavirus press conferences, the government has faced repeated questioning from the public about how it intends to support students to meet the cost of accommodation that they are not currently able to live in.
With additional national lockdown measures now in place, the government has taken steps to reduce transmission by significantly reducing the number of students returning to university from their winter break accommodation.
Students are also being asked to inform the government where they are living during the academic year, as this has an impact on the rate of Maintenance Loan they are entitled to.
Students who are living away from home during term time are entitled to a higher rate of Maintenance Loan than students living at home, to meet the higher living costs.
If students fail to provide the latest information about their living arrangements, they face having to pay back any overpaid funding, which could affect funding in future years.
Mark Smith, Operations Director of Walton Robinson, said: “We urge the government to outline a package of support measures for students in private rented accommodation so that, in cases of genuine hardship, they are able to fulfill their contractual obligations without undue distraction from their studies.
“Direct financial support for students would also be welcomed by landlords, who are under a significant amount of pressure at present to continue providing accommodation and keep on top of maintenance work.”