University students in Manchester have threatened a rent strike after being asked to pay up to £ 3,000 for housing despite being unable to return to campus during the lockdown.
Like students in other parts of the country, thousands of students in Manchester find themselves stuck at home while being forced to continue paying for university accommodation, even though they are in many cases banned from dormitories.
Students were due to return to campus this week after the Christmas break, but their return has now been delayed by the new national lockdown on coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday he would look into the issue of student rent, but students at the University of Manchester and Salford University are angry.
A freshman from Salford is among many unable to pay £ 133 a week for a room on her campus.
It comes after Manchester University students barricaded themselves in a university building to protest they were forced to continue paying rent during the November lockdown.
A week earlier, Manchester students tore down metal barricades that had been installed around their accommodation.
University students in Manchester have threatened a rent strike after being asked to pay up to £ 3,000 for housing despite being unable to return to campus during the lockdown. Pictured: A previous rental strike by Manchester University students in November
Student Frances Woodford, who has a room in Salford’s Peel Park accommodation, told the Manchester Evening News that she and her fellow students “no longer stand for it”.
“I know a lot of people who don’t get enough living allowances to pay their rent and can’t get jobs. So they have to rely on their parents to pay for accommodation they can’t even use,” she said.
“There is talk of a rent strike if nothing is done.”
She claimed there had been “bin problems” and “mold in our apartments” adding that the rental problem was “the last straw”.
Ms. Woodford’s accommodation is operated by the private provider Campus Living Villages (CLV).
The next installment of rent, which is reportedly around £ 2,000 for most students, is due on January 12th.
An email from CLV allegedly states that students’ obligation to continue paying rent is “legally binding”.
It adds that rent “must be made on the dates stated” and that for students receiving payments for student funding, “there is no legal argument for not paying rent”.
Frances Woodford, a freshman at the University of Salford, is among many who are unable to pay £ 133 a week for a room on their campus. Another Salford student, Alex Greaves (right), 20, said university leaders need to “understand the situation and take responsibility”.
Ms. Woodford is paying for a room in the Salford University Peel Park accommodation pictured above
Campus Living Villages was asked for a comment by MailOnline.
A spokesman told the MEN that they had not told the residents to leave the accommodation and that their “villages” had remained open.
Another Salford student, Alex Greaves, 20, said university leaders need to “understand the situation and take responsibility”.
A University of Salford spokesman told MEN that the students were in an “extremely difficult position” with respect to housing rent payments which the government told them they could not use.
They added that they were “just as frustrated as the students” because the government was “short-term” and “not detailed”.
In November, Manchester University students (one of them upstairs during the sit-in) barricaded themselves in the Owens Park Tower in Fallowfield to protest the full rental fee
Last month, the University of Manchester gave all students in its halls a 30 percent rental discount for the fall semester.
It came after some barricaded themselves inside a campus building in November after being asked to pay full rent during the lockdown.
University bosses also agreed to allow students to terminate their housing contracts without penalty if they so chose.
The university has yet to finalize its rents policy for the new semester, due to be paid on January 21st.
Students should not charge fees for weeks if they have been told not to return to campus.
A spokesman for the university said, “We understand that these are still challenging and uncertain times for our students.
‘The 30 percent reduction in rent applies to the first semester, which runs through January 31st.
‘All students in our dormitories have the opportunity to break their license agreement with us at any time without penalty.
The Fallowfield students also tore down metal barriers that were erected around their block of flats in November
“As a university, we will continue to support our students in any way we can, whether they are studying on campus, in our accommodation, or now from home.”
Some Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) students are calling for rent reductions at both university and private accommodation.
Another petition, signed by more than 12,000 people, is directed at MMU accommodation provider Unite Students.
The petition states: “We are students, teenagers, who are stuck in our rooms / apartments and are told not to go to university or to come into contact with anyone.
“Yes, we have a contract with them, but that’s NOT right.
“There is security at every entrance to every building to check whether we live here or not. Common areas will be closed.
It adds, “We are being treated like prisoners.”
Unite has been asked to comment.
A spokesman for Manchester Metropolitan University said: “The wellbeing and education of our students are our top priorities and we appreciate what a challenging academic year this has been.
‘The university will introduce a rent discount for students in university-owned accommodation based on previous government guidelines on staggered return to personal activities this semester.
‘Regarding the national lockdown announcement on Monday, we are reviewing the implications and are also awaiting further guidance from the government.
“For home owners we asked if they would consider rent reductions for students living in their properties.”
He said, “We hope that they (students) study online so that they can continue their studies, but of course there will be problems with the cost of their housing that we as the government will have to look for and see what arrangements the universities are making, to deal with the reasonable concerns of many, many students. ‘
In early November, Fallowfield students described waking up in a box surrounded by strangers after their university fenced off their halls without telling them. Students tore down the metal posts after they were erected on the first day of England’s lockdown in November
In November, students at Manchester University barricaded themselves in a university building to protest the full rent being charged.
The 15 students, most of whom were freshmen, said at the time that they had enough supplies to “occupy” the top floor of the Owens Park Tower in Fallowfield for several weeks.
They lit flares and draped banners from the apartment block windows.
The protesters called for a meeting with the University Vice Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell and a reduction in rent and tuition fees.
In early November, Fallowfield students described waking up in a box surrounded by strangers after their university fenced off their halls without telling them.
Students tore down the metal posts after they were erected on the first day of England’s lockdown in November.
Crowds trampled on the barrier and set off torches in anger for not being informed of the new measures.
The University of Manchester announced an investigation after the fences were put up around the student dormitories, which were put in place as a “security measure” to “avoid mixing with households”.