Thousands of Sheffield students offered 50 per cent reduction in rent – but some say it doesn’t go far enough

The UK’s largest student accommodation provider, which operates 10 sites across Sheffield, has offered its tenants a 50 per cent reduction in rent due to Covid restrictions – but some say the move does not go far enough.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 4:45 pm

Unite Students said it expected around 50,000 students, including some in Sheffield, to claim the partial refund it is offering to its tenants who are unable to return to their accommodation between January 18 and February 14.

The company said it was the “right thing to do” after England was placed into its third national lockdown and most on-campus teaching was pushed back until February, leaving the majority of students who travelled home for Christmas unable to return to university.

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The Forge student lodgings on Boston Street, just outside Sheffield city centre, which is run by Unite Students

One frustrated parent whose son has lodgings at Unite’s Forge accommodation in Sheffield branded the move by the company “unacceptable and appalling” after some universities – including the University of Sheffield – announced they would not require students living in accommodation they own to pay any rent while they are not in halls.

She said: “I know that University of Sheffield have confirmed with their students that there will be no charge for this full term and they were also given two weeks rebate for the two weeks in December that the students had to leave early. Why should Sheffield Hallam students not receive the same treatment?

"I also think the government needs to step in and offer support to the students. They are paying £9,250 for a years online tuition that is not the same, however much the universities spin in to say it is.

"My son is studying Film Production so how he can learn how to use the cameras, lighting equipment etc will certainly not be as good online. And the government is charging five per cent on student loans - surely that should be reduced for this year.”

Sheffield Hallam University does not currently own any of its own accommodation and works with providers, such as Unite, to provide suitable living arrangements for its students – therefore leaving any offer of rent reduction to fall with the provider themselves.

The university did, however, previously advise students who need support in relation to their accommodation to contact the Sheffield Hallam Student Union Advice Centre for free, confidential and independent advice on [email protected]

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