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YUSU have vowed to tackle the ongoing issue of international students being forced to pay six months or more rent up front if they are unable to provide a UK guarantor.
Several of the major student property letters including Adam Bennett, York AP and Whistles have been reported to have demanded half a year's payment from international students who are unable to sign a UK-based guarantor to their contract.
Although the University offers a Rent Guarantee Scheme, only 40 to 50 students are accepted onto the scheme each year.
Mike Anstey, YUSU International Officer, told Nouse, "The issue of accommodation guarantors is one which I know has been on the radar for a while now.
"Unfortunately it does put international student's in a very compromising position if they are unable to pay said amount (usually 6 months) upfront, but YUSU is currently working on a in-house strategy to try and combat this issue.
"I have spoken to certain agencies and know that it is their policy for legal reasons to charge this amount if there is no guarantor for the student- but of course, this shouldn't stop the SU from doing something about it. I myself had to pay my full rent upfront."
One student from Spain reported confusion within the body of their letting agency, IG Property, with regards to this issue. "They said the guarantor had to be based in the UK. I spoke to them and told them my dad, an EU taxpayer, a citizen of the EU and resident would be my guarantor. I was told I could pay my rent up front, but I did not really want to. The day we went to the agency to sign our let contract, they were absolutely fine with my Spanish guarantor and have not had any problems anymore. At the beginning they said, 'You pay everything up front now or nothing', and later they denied ever having said that. I never heard about it again."
Robert MacMahon, speaking on behalf of AP York stated the issue has "always presented a difficulty".
He said, "Our position is that we do seek a UK based guarantor for all student tenants. The reason we request a UK based guarantor is the sheer impracticality of seeking to enforce the guarantee against a person living abroad, whether in the EU or not, so we do not distinguish between EU and other foreign students.
"I can confirm we have had very few bad debts where rent has not been paid... However, of those few cases we have experienced, foreign students have been disproportionately represented."
MacMahon added: "There could be a simple solution to the problem, for example if the University would agree to prevent any student graduating if there was unpaid rent."
Jill P Ellis, Acting Director of Student Support Services, explained the reason a UK guarantor is requested is that if there are difficulties obtaining payment, the landlord can make a money claim through the county court system.
Students who do not have a UK guarantor can apply to the University Rent Guarantee Scheme.
The University's Socialist Society, have announced their campaign to get YUSU to open their own letting agency. William Hornett, Socialist Society Secretary told Nouse, "We feel this would help significantly to drive down both on- and off-campus rent prices, and would encourage better practice amongst other letting agencies."
It would also be democratically answerable to the student body in a way that private agencies are not."