Image Credit: Patrick Hook-Willers
YUSU’s Community and Wellbeing Officer Steph Hayle posted on her official Facebook page earlier today to give students a vital update on the current issue of students renting properties from private landlords. After the University announced that it would be ending the rental agreements for students off-campus early, there were many questions as to what help could be given to students who live off campus, and who are still being financially affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The update Hayle gave today was a finalised letter, which was signed by herself, GSA President Dr Pürnur Altay and the Vice Chancellor Charlie Jeffery, which students can send to their landlords in order to appeal for help regarding their living situations.
Regarding this, the letter states that ‘we are hopeful that others will follow suit and take a pragmatic and supportive approach with their tenants’ in providing financial relief for students who need it. The letter calls upon private landlords to ‘consider providing students with penalty free early releases from tenancy agreements and offering leniency for students forced to overstay because of travel restrictions and their adherence to the Government’s advice’.
Students wishing for this letter to be sent to their landlords must do so themselves, as YUSU cannot send it on their behalf due to GDPR restrictions. In her post, Hayle suggests that students also provide ‘an explanation of your own circumstances, stating what kind of support you are in need of, and touching on why’, as doing so will help students ‘negotiate more effectively’ to get the outcome they desire. She also added that if students are having issues with their landlords, they can contact the Student Hub (firstname.lastname@example.org) who have specific advisors who can provide them with help on this matter.
It is refreshing to see that this letter is, as Hayle states, ‘more VC led’. This demonstrates the University’s commitment to ensuring the welfare of students is still held as being vitally important.
This letter from both the University and YUSU comes after several letters which have been sent to various organisations in York, with Hayle and York St. John’s Student Union also co-writing a letter to York City Council regarding the lack of support given to students living in rented accommodation. The council replied by highlighting their £1.25 million hardship fund which, as their reply quotes, students can apply to ‘in the same way as other residents’. This in itself is highly positive, as it not only means that York City Council are reaching out to help students, but also that they regard students as a part of the York community, just as much as their permanent residents.
For any students wanting access to the letter, a link to the document can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Y2VpD0.