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What action is Uni2 Rent taking?

Our sole focus is to help our students, landlords, contractors, and staff to protect themselves and others in every way we can during this difficult time. We are doing so by monitoring and adhering to the guidelines that are being produced by the UK government, and also monitoring the national and international situation surround COVID-19.

We understand that this pandemic will have caused significant distress to many of our students and are working to ensure our responses are coordinated and aligned with government advice to ensure the best help is given.

In times such as these one of the most important tools at our disposal is communication. Therefore we would ask you to please get in touch if you are facing a situation regarding your property or tenancy that you are uncertain of how to deal with and we will do our best to help. It is important to remember we must all pull together and support those in genuine need of support. We will do what we can as a business and hope you will support us where you are in a position to.

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The government advice on renters is aimed at private renters, as I am a student why are you giving me the same advice?

All of the properties that Uni2 Rent manage are private accommodations and Uni2 Rent is not an accommodation provider but rather a managing agent operating on behalf of multiple individual private landlords. All students are therefore classed as private renters.

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What will happen when my tenancy ends?

As the situation is ever-changing and evolving, we are unsure yet of how long any measures on restricting movement will remain in place. We do not expect that any restrictions on movements will last longer than when your tenancy, so it is likely that there will be plenty of time for you to return to a property and collect your belongings before vacating completely. This scenario however is liable to change in line with new government guidance and advice.

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What is coronavirus or COVID-19, and what are the symptoms?

COVID-19 is an illness caused by the virus coronavirus. The two main symptoms of the virus are the following. If you have either of these symptoms, government guidance is to self-isolate for seven days. If somebody in the same household as you develops these symptoms, you should self-isolate for fourteen day.

• Fever or high temperature

• A new, continuous cough

This information may be liable to change. For up to date information, please visit the NHS website below.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

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Can I cancel my contract?

An important distinction that must be made is that Uni2 Rent do not own the properties that we let out. We are simply a managing agent that works on behalf of a private landlord that actually owns the building. As such, we do not have the ability or authorisation to issue rent reductions or cancellation of rents without confirmation of the landlord.

Please look at the flow chart on the top question to check if you’re eligible to enter a discussion with your landlord about rent.

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Even if I am not able to live in the property?

It is also important to clarify that none of our students are being unlawfully prevented from accessing a property by their landlord. The property is provided by the landlord as a service in exchange for payment of rent. Landlords have not said that you are unable to live in the property, therefore the service is still being provided by them. While it was a recommendation from some universities to go back to your parental home, the government advice is simply to remain in your home, wherever that home may be. As such, we have a number of students still living in their student accommodation.

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My university and other accommodation providers have agreed to waive or cancel rents, why are Uni2 Rent not doing the same?

Uni2 Rent and our landlords have seen that many universities and other large accommodation providers are waiving or cancelling final instalments of rent for students that wish to do so. While our landlords would very much like to reduce or waive rent payments, the types of accommodation provider that are able to offer this are completely different commercial entities to that of the everyday landlord who have properties managed by Uni2 Rent.

Universities and large accommodation providers may be able to account and plan for significant losses of rental income, however, for a number of our landlords this is their livelihood and, likewise with everyone else in this pandemic, are encountering their own suffering due to the crisis. As a result, it just isn’t a feasible option for them as much as they would like it to be. Indeed, most landlords are unlikely to qualify for any financial help.

Current government advice is clear in that where rent can afford to be paid, it should continue to be paid. This is the reason that student loans are still being paid. While some universities and other large accommodation providers are able to reduce or waive rents, we cannot authorise this as our properties are all owned by individual landlords that do not have the affordability to do so.

You can consult the flow chart on the top question to check if you’re eligible to enter a discussion with your landlord about rent.

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Will my rent be reduced or waived?

Many landlords are worried about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the result of tenants being unable to pay their rent. Landlords rely on the rental income for their buy to let mortgages and their own personal mortgages, and they may also find themselves in a difficult position financially if they have a reduction in rent or tenants not adhering to their obligations under their tenancy agreement.

There are a number of other costs that landlords use rent to pay for such as utility bills, maintenance costs, compliance with legal requirements, and insurance. For these reasons, landlords are unfortunately unable to offer any of our tenants a rent reduction or rent waive.

You can consult the flow chart on the top question to check if you’re eligible to enter a discussion with your landlord about rent.

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Can I have a refund or reduction on the utility bills as I am no longer living in my property?

Although a property may be empty there are still costs associated with the property such as energy standing charges, estimated consumptions, monthly internet payments alongside rateable values in the case of water. These are costs that we must continue to pay on your behalf.

Each and every year we provide an estimated amount of usage on a student property varied dependant of the property size and how many students reside in it, to our suppliers. In order to keep things on track with the billing, Uni2 Rent provide up to date meter readings every quarter. Due to pandemic enforcement measures, we are unable to gain access to the properties for the foreseeable future to ascertain up to date meter readings. As a result, Uni2 Rent still have to pay suppliers on a monthly basis based on the estimated usage highlighted in the tenancy agreements regardless of whether anybody resides in the property or not. This will remain so until the end of the tenancy agreement where we will then provide close down readings to the providers.

We would, however, draw your attention to a clause in some tenancy agreements regarding a provision for when tenants underspend or underuse on their gas and electric. There are set usage allowances outlined in the agreement that relates to the amount of energy expenditure the property is entitled to throughout the year. Come the end of the tenancy, if you have underspent on this (which you will be likely to do so given the property may be empty for various periods) then we will be able to return this amount to you.  You can check with a member of the team to confirm if this clause is applicable to you.

Please continue to make rental payments as normal and when the tenancy ends, we will be able to ascertain an exact figure on how much energy has been used. Following which be able to work out how much may be due back to you.

You can consult the flow chart on the top question to check if you’re eligible to enter a discussion with your landlord about rent.

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What is a mortgage holiday and how will it affect my tenancy?

Payment holidays for some landlords with buy-to-let mortgages have been announced by the government in response to the pandemic. A payment holiday for landlords on their mortgages simply defers payment to the future. It does not mean that payments are not due, and the additional interest on the payments will usually be added to subsequent payments.

As it stands, many landlords have lenders that may not offer a payment holiday on their loan. For lenders that do offer payment holidays, there can be very stringent criteria in place for landlords to prove that their tenants have been experiencing financial difficulties. As the Student Loan Company (SLC) is still paying out student loans, landlords are unable to show their lender that their tenants are in financial difficulty. As a result they will be extremely unlikely to be granted a mortgage holiday. The SLC statement on student loans can be found below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/slc-coronavirus-covid-19-update–2

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What if my student loan doesn’t cover my rent? Can I propose a payment plan to my landlord?

If your student loan covers your rental payment then in line with the government advice, rent should continue to be paid.

We are of course aware that in some cases your student loan may not cover your whole instalment of rent. It may be topped up to the full amount with parental help or with the assistance of a part time job. We are also aware that some people may have been made redundant or lost their job as a result of the pandemic, meaning they may find it difficult to make up the rest of the rent above the student loan amount.

If this is the case then we request that you send us a copy of your student finance schedule so that we can see the amounts that will be paid to you to confirm this. We would also ask that you send us confirmation of a change in financial circumstance that leads to difficulty in the difference between your rent and your student loan is unable to paid. This may be in the form of a letter from your employer or your parents’ employer confirming employment has been ended, for example. You will also need to outline your proposal for a payment plan for paying the rent, or an alternative.

Once this has been received, we will put forward a proposal to your landlord on your behalf and will assess this on a case-by-case basis. We must stress that Uni2 Rent cannot be held responsible should your landlord be unable to accept your proposal. Our properties are owned by private individual landlords, and only the landlord can consent to this.

You can consult the flow chart on the top question to check if you’re eligible to enter a discussion with your landlord about rent.

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Will maintenance still be done at my property?

The government have indicated that all legal compliance requirements and management responsibilities will still apply and need to be adhered to during the pandemic. This means that only essential works will be carried out. Non-essential maintenance will be delayed until the end of lockdown measures.

For those students still living in their property, we advise you to continue to report maintenance requests through PropertyFile. Our maintenance department will then be able to determine if the work is essential. If not, it will be set aside to be completed when it is safe to do so.

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What should I tell my guarantor?

Almost all Uni2 Rent tenants will have a guarantor in place to ensure that rent is paid should you not be able to. You should ensure that you keep your guarantor updated with this information as much as possible.

If you are struggling to continue paying your rent you should inform your guarantor as soon as possible. Regardless of whether they are in a position to help you, you are required to make them aware if you fall into arrears, as they too are liable for the outstanding balance.

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What happens if one of my housemates default on their rent?

The vast majority of our tenancies are contracted under joint and several liability. This means that the responsibility of ensuring the terms of this contract are upheld is shared by all of their tenants as well as their guarantors.

Given the nature of events that are unfolding, of course a compassionate view will be taken to enforcing the terms of this contract. However, it should be noted that landlords are within their rights to seek recovery of any outstanding rents and/or costs from the other named parties on the tenancy should they believe unethical or immoral conduct is being pursued.

You can consult the flow chart on the top question to check if you’re eligible to enter a discussion with your landlord about rent.

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What do the changes to the eviction process mean for students?

The government has extended the standard notice period for eviction proceedings from 8 to 12 weeks and have put a temporary pause on evictions. The objective of this extension is to allow tenants and landlords time to agree a payment plan to settle any arrears built up on the rent ledger.

As our tenancies end in July, August, or September, we do not anticipate this to cause any issue for our students. There remains the possibility that the government may extend this timeframe, and we shall monitor the situation accordingly.

We will be sending out Section 21 notices to all of our tenants in the coming weeks and have already begun this process. While in the current climate a formal, legally required letter may worry you, it should not have any cause for concern. A Section 21 notice simply informs tenants that the landlord intends to take back possession of the property from the tenants once the contract ends. It ensures that our tenants leave the property when they are supposed to.

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Where can I find more information?

For more information about coronavirus, its symptoms, how to avoid catching it and what to do if you do have it, please visit the NHS website.

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