Housing landlords and university housing agents eagerly collecting rental fees amid COVID-19 crisis

Some students are being threatened by housing landlords to settle rental balances despite the non-occupancy of rental units.

Housing landlords of university students show their greedy side

A handful of university students are crying foul over some housing landlords associated with university agents, collecting boarding rent despite non-occupancy due to the COVID-19 crisis.

When the COVID-19 outbreak hits the UK, all schools and universities were closed, and students were advised to return to their countries and provinces.

On most occasions, landlords have offered refunds for the months the students won’t be consuming their accommodations. Some even returned early deposits due to the uncertainty of the extent of the pandemic.

But, there a few accounts of greedy housing landlords that even go to the extent of threatening students with legal actions if they do not pay in full the remaining months left in the rental contract, despite the unit being unoccupied since schools closed last March.

The worst-case scenario here is when booking agents affiliated with the university are the ones leading the non-refund for students who made advance rental payments for the whole year. There are also some universities that deny access to the landlord’s contact information, saying it will be a breach of their user agreement.

Law against consumer abuse

The government reminded students harassed by housing landlords that there is a guideline regarding consumer contracts imposed by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Under the guidelines, consumers are protected from unfair trading and collection of businesses to consumers during the pandemic. Service providers should refund any unused services paid in advance by the consumer and are also restricted from collecting fees from services yet to be provided by the provider.

Rental services are included on the list of service providers under the consumer protection policy guidelines. Housing and business space rentals are included in the fair policy program imposed by the government, in association with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government is urging affected parties to report to authorities housing landlords that deny rental refunds or charges monthly rental for units unoccupied, especially in the duration of the lockdown.