A new bill is set to be passed by the Scottish Government which will allow university students to end new leases on accommodation due to coronavirus.
The move, which hopes to bring the student rental sector in line with the private rental sector, will mean that students in contract with halls of residence will be able to give seven days’ notice to cancel their contract, while people entering into new contracts will have a 28 notice period.
This also means that those planning to enter accommodation for the next academic year will not be held liable for evading their contracts if coronavirus is the cause for their cancellation.
MSP member, Michael Russell, said they are asking the UK government for ‘appropriate financial support’ for the sector after it was suggested that up to £500 million could be lost due to Covid-19. Russell explained the necessity of changing the bill for students:
To reduce the spread of this terrible virus, many students have returned to their family homes for the duration of the lockdown but are still paying for their term-time accommodation. During this time of great uncertainty and financial hardship for many, these proposals would relieve a significant extra financial burden on students. Introducing a 28-day notice period for contracts entered into during the lifetime of this Act recognises the uncertainly around the impact of ongoing lockdown measures, as well as providing the same rights as for those students renting in the mainstream private rented sector.
Liam McCabe, President for the National Union of Students Scotland, said that this move is a ‘victory for students:’
Since before the lockdown students have been paying for student accommodation they moved out of. NUS Scotland’s message to accommodation providers is clear: provide refunds to the students you have been exploiting, finally giving them the peace of mind you have been denying them. The conduct of some accommodation providers during this crisis makes that review all the more urgent.
The bill was passed within the last week, and details can be found within the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill.