As landlords and students look ahead to returning to in-person teaching at university in the coming weeks, landlords are continuing to ramp up efforts to ensure student accommodation comes with new levels of hygiene, safety checks and check-in/out procedures in light of the ‘new normal’.

There are, however, end-of-tenancy issues that remain from last year. These include:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Tenants not leaving due to shielding, infection, nowhere to go, or home is based overseas and they still can’t travel
  • Check-out process delays due to social distancing, hygiene rules or reluctance of the tenant to be present
  • Deposit disputes and disagreements on damage and wear and tear
  • Availability of trades people for repairs and maintenance, cleaning and safety checks

Unpaid rent at end of student tenancy

The National Union of Students (NUS) and some universities have previously pressed landlords to release students from contracts and waive rent. It is important to remember that landlords are entitled to enforce the tenancy contract and can pursue the guarantor or use the deposit for lost rent (at end of tenancy), if rent remains due.

It is, however, often quicker and cheaper to negotiate with the students. Try to understand the student’s situation. Are they continuing to use the property? What can they afford?

By agreeing a payment plan, landlords could save money that would otherwise be spent on court proceedings. Remember, universities have hardship funds that students may not be aware of. Landlords should encourage student tenants to research what support is available to them to help them pay rent.

Alternatively, you can seek help from TDS Resolution. This free service from The Dispute Service and the NRLA provides a mediation service that aims to facilitate a satisfactory resolution between landlords and tenants to help sustain tenancies and avoid the need for formal legal action. Learn more at TDS Resolution.

Formally ending the tenancy

With the eviction ban now extended to May 31st 2021, landlords could be charged with illegal eviction if they don’t end the tenancy formally by mutual agreement. Landlords  must not pressure the tenant and make sure  tenants confirm, in writing, that the tenancy has ended.

Transitions in-between tenancies

Typically, student tenancies are agreed months in advance (October/November the year before), but these have not been typical times. For example, landlords have been carrying out right to rent checks by video link rather than when the students arrive.

Historically, student tenants could move in and out on the same day but that can’t currently happen due to cleaning and social distancing, etc. It is therefore important to make sure time delays are considered when planning the start and end of tenancies.

Maintenance and cleaning

Right now, the safety of tenants, cleaners, agency staff and trades people is of utmost importance, over and above everything else. Landlords will need to allow extra time for that and take measures to enforce strict PPE and hygiene observance by visitors to student accommodation.

Don’t forget to check the travel ban countries and quarantine times for overseas students arriving to the UK, as this will affect the moving-in and tenancy deposit process.

Communication is key

The key to resolving all of the above end of tenancy issues is through communication. Students are eager to attend universities and enjoy student life as they did before the pandemic.

Try to negotiate for the benefit of all.

Protect yourself and your student tenants through the government-approved tenancy deposit scheme from Tenancy Deposit Scheme(TDS)join today!

Alternatively, you can use the TDS scheme through your NRLA membership. NRLA members receive the leading deposit protection rates with TDS, too! If you are not yet a member of the NRLA, CLICK HERE to join and receive £15 off membership!

If you are an existing NRLA member, protect your tenant’s deposit with TDS Insured, via your NRLA member dashboard here. Or alternatively, you can also protect your tenant’s deposit today for FREE with TDS Custodial, via your NRLA member dashboard here.

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About the Author

Sandy Bastin
Head of TDS Adjudication Services

Sandy Bastin - Head of TDS Adjudication Services

Sandy joined TDS in 2008 and is now Head of TDS Adjudication Services. A qualified solicitor with many years’ experience practising and specialising in Real Estate. Sandy is responsible for recruiting and training TDS Adjudicators, providing continued support and mentoring to include quality assurance activity to ensure the high standards expected from TDS Adjudication decisions are met. Sandy is a complaints handler for TDS England and Wales; is involved with final decisions issued following reviews for SafeDeposits Scotland and TDS Northern Ireland. Sandy delivers TDS Adjudication Workshops and provides Adjudication training – the TDS Way. Sandy also plays a role in ensuring TDS provides an excellent Customer Service experience.

About TDS

TDS Insured for landlords: where a TDS customer can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy. Join TDS Insured today.

TDS Custodial: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy. Landlords, you can protect your deposits for FREE today.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.

These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.

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