Following the University's announcement that students in university halls will receive a 10% reduction on year-round costs, we also queried what Bangor's private halls companies were able to offer. We sent the following letter to iQ, Universal and Bangor Student:
“To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Sabbatical Officer Team at Undeb Bangor. Following the last few months of Welsh Government guidance, the decision was made to encourage students to leave Bangor before the 9th of December and return on the 1st February as this is the date all blended learning will recommence. This means that students will have been asked to leave their accommodation for up to 8 weeks of the year, when they would have normally been living in Bangor for most of this period, barr for the Christmas break.
This was raised with the University before Christmas, and after discussions with the Executive, they agreed to provide a 10% reduction on University Halls fees for all students living in University-owned Halls of Residence. This was a great success that has been welcomed by students and has shown that the University is serious when promising students that they will be looked after when living in University Halls.
What we are asking is whether you would also consider offering a fee reduction to students living within your halls of residence? We only believe that this is fair for students as they have been asked to leave Bangor and their accommodation during an uncertain, and stressful period of the year.
We fully understand that neither the students, the university, nor you as a business could foresee the events of the current year or have any control over what is happening. However, we still feel as though students should be compensated for the periods in which they were advised to leave their accommodation. Not only will this show students that you understand the difficult situation they are in, but hopefully ensure that students return to your residences for the coming years.
If you would like a discussion on the matter, we would welcome it and be more than happy to organise a meeting.
Iwan, James, Katie and Henry”
See below what the 3 companies came back to offer us, as well as what Student Roost in Wrexham announced at the beginning of the month:
For residents who are currently unable to return to site:
If you pay your rent directly to iQ, and have been unable to return to your room, we will be offering up to a 6 week rent free period from 5 January until 15 February. The relevant amount will be credited to your iQ rental account by the end of March 2021, provided you are up to date with your payments. To request your rent free period, you need to log into your iQ resident portal and select the ‘Lockdown Discount’ button to submit your request. We expect that when it is safe to travel residents will return and continue with their contract as normal.
For students who are yet to arrive:
We continue to offer flexible start dates and ask that you get in touch to discuss if this applies to you via firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the latest guidance and advice can be found via our Update Centre, and you can find out more about what iQ is doing to increase safety and how we will support those who are self-isolating. The safety of all our residents is paramount, but we continue to try to make student life as enjoyable as it can be.
Our teams are on standby to help, so please do get in touch with our Customer Service team via email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns and we will do our very best to help.
Universal currently has a Covid-19 policy and has been flexible with students who have requested to cancel or defer their contracts due to Covid-19 this year, and during the last academic year.
They have been willing to defer residents who have not been able to arrive in Bangor since September, while also allowing cancellations where applicable.
We are awaiting more information from the company regarding any possible refunds for students currently in Bangor.
Since the start of lockdown March 2020, Bangor Student have given all tenants who are not occupying their room (in all of their Halls and houses) a £15.00 per week (£65.00 pcm) reduction in rent. This reduction is equal to, or more than, a 10% reduction for most of their tenants.
This is something that was originally only expected to last until September of 2020, however they have continued to offer the reduction to all tenants who moved in late or not at all this year.
For anyone looking to terminate their contract, they are maintaining their current policy on finding a replacement to take over the tenancy, but are offering the same £15/week reduction if the tenant is not occupying the room in the meantime.
Currently this reduction has only been offered to those who have been able to prove that they have been absent from their accomodation for more than 2 months due to Covid-19 reasons (with exceptions considered on a case by case basis).
Bangor Student are open to discussion regarding rent rebates, however will be waiting until the majority of students have returned to accomodation following the Christmas break in order to have a wider understanding of the full extent the travel restrictions will have had on all students. They will consider whether refunds will be offered to all students, or only those who are absent from their accomodation.
Student Roost are offering residents who are currently away from their Student Roost homes the opportunity to apply for a discount of up to 6 weeks of rent payments.
To receive this discount, residents need to:
The application must be made by the named tenant on the contract. If there is a reason why the tenant cannot apply for the discount by the deadline, they should speak to their property team, so that they can discuss their individual circumstances.
Following discussions with students, we have issued the following demands to the University:
The SU does not believe any student should be charged for accommodation that they have not/cannot use as a result of Covid-19 implications.
As you can see from the first bullet point, we want students who live in private halls to receive the same rent reduction as students who live in university halls, to ensure fairness for all. Discussions with private companies are continuing, with the hope of bringing you an update shortly.