Over 10,000 students combined live in private accommodation in Bath. Private sector houses play a crucial role in housing the vast majority of our student population in the city.
There is much uncertainty around students’ lives at the moment, with significantly diminished finances due to the lack of jobs, stressed family situations, and ineligibility for benefits. Students also face a lack of clarity around their prospects in the coming months, concern for their loved ones and a significant change to their learning experience.
Students' Union Sabbatical Officer teams and Vice-Chancellors from both Bath Spa University and the University of Bath have written an open letter calling for some leniency and flexibility in arrangements from the private housing sector. We have also written a letter to the leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council to ask them to support student residents at this time and utilise their power with landlords.
If you are living in private accommodation in Bath, we have issued guidance on approaching your landlord. We suggest you send a tailored letter to begin discussions with them on this issue. Please remember, however, you are legally bound to your contract until your landlord confirms otherwise, so please still pay your rent if you can.
Stable, suitable and quality housing is essential for our students. We will continue to fight for your rights as tenants and we are here to support you through this process. We have issued further guidance on your rights and responsibilities as tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic, which can be read here.
We hope that our actions help you to achieve positive results in the private accommodation sector, however, each case is individual, and landlord responses will likely vary.
In summary, if you are living in private accommodation, the following actions should be helpful:
1. Read our guidance on writing to your landlord and then draft a letter to them. Personalise your letter to your situation as this will help your landlord see the personal impact on you and why you need to negotiate your contract.
2. If you would like further advice on information to include and/or feedback on your draft letter, please contact the SU Advice Centre. Our team may also be able to provide further advice with your ongoing negotiations, so please contact us if you have any questions or you are unsure about anything.
3. If your negotiations are unsuccessful, you can speak to the University's Student Wellbeing Money Advice Service to see what financial advice and support is available. You can also speak with Citizens Advice.