Sheffield Hallam University and Students' Union urges rent rebates in open letter to accommodation providers

The vice-chancellor and president of the Students' Union at Sheffield Hallam University have penned an open letter asking landlords and accommodation providers to support students in regards to rent payments.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 4:45 pm

Vice-chancellor Professor Sir Chris Husbands said he acknowledged that many Sheffield Hallam students are facing financial difficulties and are “understandably concerned about paying for accommodation they are not able to use” due to current lockdown restrictions.

He has joined forces with Students’ Union president Andrew Adegbola to write the open letter which noted that the university itself does not own any accommodation and is not a landlord but “nevertheless” wants to do “whatever we can to support” students.

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Sheffield Hallam University.

In the letter, the pair recognised and welcomed refunds and rebates which some providers have already put in place while urging others to follow suit to support more students during this difficult time.

“We value the role student accommodation providers and landlords play in our community and the benefits we bring together for our city. We are lobbying the Government to recognise the financial difficulties facing our students, including with regard to accommodation,” the letter states.

"We welcome the refunds and rebates which a number of you have already put in place in recognition of the fact that many students have not been able to access the accommodation they are paying for.

"While we recognise that landlords vary in size and situation, we would encourage you all to consider whether you are able to take equivalent action to support students at this difficult time - whether through refunds, discounts or flexibility with contracts.

"To help us provide up to date advice and guidance to our students we invite all landlords to get in touch to share the action they are taking and to continue dialogue with our Accommodation Service.”

It comes as hundreds of students take part in the biggest rent strike in four decades and withold their rent payments amid growing anger over online teaching, conditions in halls of residence and an alleged lack of mental health support.

Some accommodation providers have offered rent rebates and reductions in response to England’s third national lockdown, which pushed most on-campus teaching back until February and left those who travelled home for Christmas unable to return to university.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.